A single flipped bit or a weak random number generator can cause secure systems to fail. Therefore, the main motivation of this project is to bridge basic algorithmic approaches with hardware-level security implementations. It requires integrating secure cryptographic primitives such as random number generators (RNGs) and physically uncloneable functions (PUFs), together with physical attack countermeasures. The goal is to study, design and implement RNGs and PUFs with demonstrable entropy guarantees and quality metrics. This includes on-the-fly entropy testing and physical attacks evaluations, which will enable more secure systems and easier certification.


The main objectives of HECTOR are to

  • implement state-of-the-art cryptographic algorithms efficient in terms of low-area, low-memory, high throughput, power-efficiency or low-latency
  • provide robust and high-entropy random numbers including quality metrics
  • master gradual degradation of security levels of cryptographic primitives and hardware security countermeasures as a function of randomness quality
  • balance efficiency and robustness and to aim at more efficient countermeasures
  • provide inputs towards certification and standardization regarding quality testing and evaluation of random numbers
  • Technical Approach

    The HECTOR project is planned to run 36 month. The work performed in the framework of this project is organized in six different work packages tailor-made to achieve the maximum of efficiency and output quality:

    WP1 Requirements Specification

    WP1 intends to derive industry-driven requirements and specifications for the building blocks in WP2, WP3 and the demonstrator in WP4.

    WP2 RNGs and PUFs

    WP2 contains the core technology of the HECTOR project and will include the design and selection of suitable TRNG and PUF principles. Furthermore, it will include deriving stochastic models, the implementation and finally the evaluation as well as advanced testing of the designed components. The derivation of a generic approach for the design and testing is an essential outcome of this WP to enable secure-by-design TRNGs and PUFs.

    WP3 Hardware Aware Crypto Building Block Design

    The third WP starts from existing algorithms and countermeasures in order to build novel designs with inherent protection against physical attacks. Two approaches are pursued. While the first approach aims to explore to what degree cryptographic building blocks and countermeasures can accept imperfect random numbers before becoming insecure, the goal of the second approach is to design efficient crypto building blocks and countermeasures relying on higher-quality random number generators as pursued in the second WP. Both approaches will be compared in terms of security and hardware efficiency. The final outcome is to build suitable next-generation building blocks to obtain true hardware enabled cryptographic building blocks.

    WP4 Demonstration and Evaluation

    The aim of WP4 is to showcase the work done in previous work packages through the design and realization of a hardware demonstrator, which will also be used both as a testing and an evaluation platform.

    WP5 Dissemination, Communication, Exploitation, Standardisation and Training

    WP5 wraps the project by focusing on dissemination, communication, exploitation, standardization and training. Hence, it is in charge of the widespread diffusion of HECTOR concepts and results through publications and standardization actions and will furthermore cope with exploitation plans, business plans and intellectual property rights.

    WP6 Project-, Risk-, and Innovation-Management

    WP6 will interact with all other WPs in order to ensure a successful project lifetime with respect to risk- and innovation management. It shows dependencies to all other WPs as it coordinates and ensures that the tasks are in line with the project plan in order to reach the common goal of HECTOR.