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Low-latency Approach for Secure ECG Feature Based Cryptographic Key Generation

Sanaz Rahimi Moosavi, Ethiopia Nigussie, Marco Levorato, Seppo Virtanen, Jouni Isoaho, Low-latency Approach for Secure ECG Feature Based Cryptographic Key Generation. IEEE Access , 14, 2017.



We propose a low-latency approach for generating secure
Electrocardiogram (ECG) feature based cryptographic keys. This is
done by taking advantage of the uniqueness and randomness properties
of ECG’s main features. This approach achieves low-latency since the
key generation relies on 4 reference-free ECG’s main features that
can be acquired in short time. We call the approach Several ECG
Features (SEF) based cryptographic key generation. SEF consists of
(i) detecting the arrival time of ECG’s fiducial points using Daubechies
wavelet transform to compute ECG’s main features accordingly; (ii)
using a dynamic technique to specify the optimum number of bits that
can be extracted from each main ECG feature, comprising of PR, RR,
PP, QT, and ST intervals; (iii) generating cryptographic keys by exploiting
the above-mentioned ECG features; and (iv) consolidating and
strengthening the SEF approach with cryptographically secure pseudorandom
number generators. Fibonacci linear feedback shift register and
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithms are implemented as
the pseudo-random number generator to enhance the security level
of the generated cryptographic keys. Our approach is applied to 239
subjects’ ECG signals comprising of Normal Sinus Rhythm, Arrhythmia,
Atrial Fibrillation and Myocardial Infraction. The security analyses of the
proposed approach are carried out in terms of distinctiveness, test of
randomness, temporal variance, and using National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST) benchmark. The analyses reveal that the
normal ECG rhythms have slightly better randomness compared to the
abnormal ones. The analyses also show that the strengthened SEF key
generation approach provides a higher security level in comparison to
existing approaches that rely only on singleton ECG features. For the
normal ECG rhythms, the SEF approach has in average the entropy
of about 0.98 while cryptographic keys which are generated utilizing the
strengthened SEF approach offer the entropy of ∼ 1. The execution time
required to generate the cryptographic keys on different processors is
also examined. The results reveal that our SEF approach is in average
1.8 times faster than existing key generation approaches which only
utilize the Inter Pulse Interval (IPI) feature of ECG.

BibTeX entry:

  title = {Low-latency Approach for Secure ECG Feature Based Cryptographic Key Generation},
  author = {Rahimi Moosavi, Sanaz and Nigussie, Ethiopia and Levorato, Marco and Virtanen, Seppo and Isoaho, Jouni},
  journal = {IEEE Access},
  pages = {14},
  year = {2017},
  ISSN = {2169-3536},

Belongs to TUCS Research Unit(s): Communication Systems (ComSys)

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