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A survey of covert channels and countermeasures in computer network protocols

Zander, S., Armitage, G. and Branch, P. (2007) A survey of covert channels and countermeasures in computer network protocols. IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, 9 (3). pp. 44-57.

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Covert channels are used for the secret transfer of information. Encryption only protects communication from being decoded by unauthorised parties, whereas covert channels aim to hide the very existence of the communication. Initially, covert channels were identified as a security threat on monolithic systems i.e. mainframes. More recently focus has shifted towards covert channels in computer network protocols. The huge amount of data and vast number of different protocols in the Internet seems ideal as a high-bandwidth vehicle for covert communication. This article is a survey of the existing techniques for creating covert channels in widely deployed network and application protocols. We also give an overview of common methods for their detection, elimination, and capacity limitation, required to improve security in future computer networks.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: IEEE
Copyright: © 2007 IEEE
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