News | December 4, 2009

Revere Security Fast-Tracks RFID Adoption With Small, Fast, Secure Hummingbird Cryptographic Algorithm

  • Hummingbird provides 256-bit security that fits within the size, speed and power limitations of passive, semi-passive and active RFID tags
  • Hummingbird delivers secure identification and message authentication where other algorithms can't
  • Revere Security's technology is the first high-security algorithm suitable for passive UHF RFID systems

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is poised to revolutionize the world's way of thinking, doing and interacting with people and objects, but obstacles like size reduction, speed, limited or no security, power consumption and cost have hindered widespread RFID adoption and the realization of the technology's true benefits. Industry analysts continue to raise concerns about the security and privacy of the data being transmitted by these tiny wireless systems as well as the amount of power needed to ensure the security of these devices. Revere Security ( cryptanalysts and RFID experts engineered their flagship Hummingbird algorithm to alleviate those concerns and become the right fit for RFID systems, providing high levels of security, including secure identification and mutual authentication, with minimal impact on tag performance.

Revere Security's Hummingbird is the only RFID-friendly algorithm that enables high-speed, 256-bit encryption in conjunction with message authentication to meet security and performance requirements. In fact, current requirements involve using encryption without a message authentication code (MAC) to conserve space and battery power due to the limitations of previous industry offerings. Revere Security's Hummingbird enables these components to have heightened security with integrated MAC generation thus reducing power consumption exponentially. This makes Hummingbird ideal for RFID environments where privacy and clandestine tracking are concerns such as the identification tags in an ISO 18000-6C passive UHF RFID system being implemented in vehicle identification programs.

"While we're beginning to see an increase in RFID implementations, information security is still a major concern across the board for both active and passive UHF RFID systems," said Daniel Engels, Ph.D., Revere Security's chief technology officer and a world-renowned RFID expert. "Revere Security's Hummingbird algorithm was engineered with RFID technology in mind, addressing major concerns in security, performance, power and size restrictions. We recognized the gaps in existing encryption offerings and, instead of forcing device and chip manufacturers to adapt to poorly suited encryption methods, we adjusted our technology to support the innovative efforts of these companies and the expansion of the technology. Revere Security eliminates the security compromises associated with existing algorithms and provides the efficient security necessary for new, secure RFID systems to operate without performance compromises."

While Hummingbird's small size, high performance and low-power consumption serve as major advantages to chip and device designers, its true strength is a groundbreaking algorithm design that provides tremendous security while using only a fraction of the processing and memory capacity of a typical cryptographic solution. Based on a novel rotor-stepping rule that digitizes the principles of the classic rotor machine for the first time in cryptography, Hummingbird is able to automatically generate a MAC as a by-product of message encryption without draining excessive computational power.

Revere Security independently tested its Hummingbird algorithm with former National Security Agency (NSA) cryptanalysts at ISSI. After more than 1,000 hours of study, ISSI found no vulnerabilities, labeled Hummingbird as "secure" and added that it "seems particularly appropriate for use within resource-constrained environments such as wireless sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags."

About Revere Security
Revere Security is a privately owned company specializing in cryptographic data security solutions for small, power-constrained chips and devices. Revere Security's solutions rely on a remarkably simple, efficient and powerful algorithm developed by Revere Security Co-founder Eric Smith. The unique algorithm has been tested, analyzed and proven successful through rigorous study by former cryptanalysts from the National Security Agency. Revere Security safeguards solutions in embedded systems, RF communications, sensor technologies, mobile computing and more. The company is headquartered in Dallas. For more informatio, visit

SOURCE: Revere Security