Master's Thesis Defense Presentation IMPLEMENTATION, BENCHMARKING, AND PROTECTION OF LIGHTWEIGHT CRYPTOGRAPHY CANDIDATES Richard Haeussler Bachelor of Science, George Mason University 2015 Wednesday, April 28, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Zoom Meeting Link: https://gmu.zoom.us/j/99822502088 All are invited to attend Committee Dr. Kris Gaj, Thesis Director Dr. Jens-Peter Kaps Dr. Avesta Sasan Abstract In August 2019, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced 32 candidates for Round 2 of their Lightweight Cryptography (LWC) standardization process. NIST needed to understand how each of the candidates performed in software and hardware before making their finalist selections. George Mason University's Cryptographic Engineering Research Group (CERG) assisted NIST by organizing the Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) benchmarking of the Round 2 candidates. CERG developed LWC Hardware API compliant implementations for 14 of the Round 2 candidates. This work contains a detailed breakdown of the unprotected hardware implementations of Elephant and Xoodyak, along with figures and tables to illustrate the design choices that were made. It also highlights several new features that CERG added to the LWC Hardware API development package to assist in the FPGA benchmarking. An overview of CERG's benchmarking efforts, along with the results for Elephant and Xoodyak, are contained. From the results, analysis was conducted to determine possible design improvements. On March 29, 2021, NIST announced both Elephant and Xoodyak as LWC finalists. Before NIST announced finalists, Domain Oriented Masking was used to develop side-channel resistant implementations of both Elephant and Xoodyak. The efforts from this work certainly provide NIST with valuable information for their LWC standardization process.