How is Lightweight Cryptography Applicable to Various IoT Devices?

Cryptography is the key factor that prevents anyone from directly accessing information regarding any encrypted data. Lightweight cryptography refers to all those algorithms which are designed to consume fewer resources and make them more powerful. These lightweight cryptography algorithms can be applied to various IoT devices, securing the connection and ensuring safe data transfer. But how can such algorithms increase the security factor, and how can they be applicable to IoT devices? First, let us see how cryptography works.

What Is Cryptography?

Cryptography is the technique of converting plain text or normal information into a non-readable format that has no language format and cannot be read by anyone. Only the machines can convert such non-readable text into an original message using reverse cryptography. This helps to transfer the information to the network without worrying about the misuse of information. The confidentiality of the information is maintained when passed through the network using encryption.

How does Cryptography work?

Good cryptography refers to such non-breachable algorithms that cannot be cracked by any hacker. The cryptography method includes encryption of information, generating a key, hashing, passing through different servers and again decrypting the encrypted information to its original form. The steps are mentioned below

Encryption − Normal text is converted into the non-readable format by changing the positions of letters and each character, using a specific unique key that is the cypher text. It is all mathematically calculated according to a unique key.

Key − The key generated using random numbers are then passed through the internet along with the encrypted message.

Hashing − Hashing algorithms help to create a digital fingerprint. It helps to maintain the ritghteousness of the original data even if the original data is changed.

Decryption − The message generated is then decrypted using the same key so that each and every character can be arranged in its original position.

Lightweight Cryptography Used In IoT Devices

Lightweight cryptography focuses on the efficient use of computational resources required to encrypt the data. Nowadays, there are many powerful cryptography algorithms such as RSA public-key encryption, Diffie-Hellman exchange algorithm, Elliptic Curve Cryptography, Twofish, Blowfish and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). But these algorithms perform many mathematical operations at once and can be difficult for a longer input text. Hence research is carried out in lightweight cryptography, which uses less computational power but generates powerful cypher text.

This lightweight cryptography can be used especially in IoT devices because IoT devices must run on low power. Technological advancement has given us smaller transmitters, microchips, advanced low-power Bluetooth, and faster internet, and this all made IoT sensors smaller in size. Small IoT sensors fit easily on devices and consume low power. Hence there is a need for lightweight cryptography to encrypt the data with low power consumption.

Which Are Different Lightweight Cryptography Methods?

There are many popular lightweight cryptography methods that can ensure the secure transfer of data between IoT devices. Some of the famous lightweight cryptography methods are −

  • PRESENT − Present is a lightweight block cypher algorithm that runs on limited resources and provides powerful encryption. It operates on data blocks of only 64 bits and has a key size of 80 bits. It is simple and reduces the complexity of implementation, mainly used in IoT devices and smart cards.

  • LED − LLIghtweight Encryption and Decryption (LED) is another lightweight block cypher algorithm that uses a data block of 64 bits and a key size of 128 bits. Mainly used in wearable devices, smart cards and other IoT embedded systems.

  • SPONGENET − Mainly used in IoT devices for a large variety of applications and data integrity checks. A good alternative to other lightweight algorithms, such as SHA-3 and Keccak.

  • ECC − Another public-key cryptography is Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) that uses a mathematical form of elliptic curves to generate secure encryption keys. It is lightweight and used in digital signatures, key agreements and different cryptographic applications for IoT devices.

  • Grain-128a − A lightweight steam cipher algorithm having a 128-bit key, known for its strong encryption with no vulnerabilities. It is used in wireless communications, smart devices, and low-power operated IoT devices.

How Lightweight Cryptography Benefits IoT Devices?

There are many factors affecting IoT devices when a hacker tries to break a connection or steal information from the IoT grid, increasing vulnerability. Encryption at low power consumption can help to maintain a secure connection in the network and provides confidentiality. IoT devices boost up with lightweight cryptography.

  • Efficient Resource Optimization − Low resource requirement is the first priority in making a good IoT device. Consuming low power, IoT devices can be maintained for a longer time period with a secure connection.

  • Simplified Algorithm − Lightweight cryptography provides simpler and faster encryption and decryption unless traditional cryptography methods.

  • Key Management − Generally, follows single key management, which is simple and efficient for smaller IoT devices.

  • Security trade-offs − If we compare both the traditional and lightweight cryptography methods, lightweight uses simpler algorithms. Hence it may have lesser security strengths but is still much more powerful for smaller low-power operating IoT devices, making communication secure.

  • Authentication − Authentication always requires an ID and password, and it must have to be passed securely through the network grid. Hence at lower connectivity areas, such as login using a smartwatch or any other IoT device authentication, lightweight cryptography helps the most.


As technology is becoming more and more advanced, we see IoT devices growing in each and every sector. But the main sector is security, and it cannot be ignored. The 5G technology and low-energy Bluetooth have provided IoT devices with superfast low power consuming internet connectivity. Therefore, adding lightweight cryptography for optimized security.