Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Electronic Engineering

First Advisor

Fergus O'Reilly


Mobile technologies with limited resources, such as smart phones or PDAs, have increased dramatically in popularity. However, the level of security provided for these technologies has not kept pace with the value of the data that they contain or transmit.

Wireless networks usually provide some security, in the form of encryption. GSM and GPRS use different forms of the A5 algorithm, and Wi-Fi uses WEP or WPA. These encryption algorithms have proven weaknesses and in some cases have been efficiently cracked. To improve the security of wireless networks, stronger encryption algorithms need to be developed. One of the most attractive algorithms for this is Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC). This is because it uses very small key sizes, which can result in smaller system parameters, smaller processors, faster implementations and lower power requirements.

This thesis investigates two different ECC algorithms, ECIES and a hybrid of AES and ECC, over two finite fields, on mobile devices with limited resources. Both algorithms are implemented and then executed across a wired, Wi-Fi, GPRS and 3G networks to evaluate their performance. From these performance results it is established that:

• ECC is appropriate for mobile devices,

• That the GF(2"’) field is the most efficient finite field

• That the network type has a serious impact on the performance of the encryption operations and transfers.

In this way, ECC can allow for user controlled end-to-end secure channels, across a mixed network infrastructure, where appropriately used.

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