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20 years of covert channel modeling and analysis

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1 Author(s)
Millen, J. ; Comput. Sci. Lab., SRI Int., Menlo Park, CA, USA

Covert channels emerged in mystery and departed in confusion. Covert channels are a means of communication between two processes that are not permitted to communicate, but do so anyway, a few bits at a time, by affecting shared resources. Information hiding is slightly different: the two communicating parties are allowed to talk, but the content is censored and restricted to certain subjects. The trick is to “piggyback” some contraband data invisibly on the legitimate content. The canonical example of this is to use the low-order two bits of each pixel in a picture for your secret message, since no one would notice if they were changed. When a similar idea was applied to smuggle information in network headers, we called it a network covert channel, mostly because the term “information hiding” hadn't been invented yet. The article traces the history of covert channel modeling from 1980 to the present (1999)

Published in:

Security and Privacy, 1999. Proceedings of the 1999 IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference: