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Reliable transmission over covert channels in first person shooter multiplayer games

Zander, S., Armitage, G. and Branch, P. (2009) Reliable transmission over covert channels in first person shooter multiplayer games. In: IEEE 34th Conference on Local Computer Networks (LCN) 2009, 20 - 23 October 2009, Zurich, Switzerland

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We propose and evaluate a novel improvement to a previously published, unreliable covert channel based on the network traffic of multiplayer, first person shooter online games (FPSCC). Covert channels typically embed themselves within pre-existing (overt) data transmissions in order to carry hidden messages. FPSCC encodes covert bits as slight, yet continuous, variations of a player's character's movements. These variations are visually imperceptible to human players, yet occur frequently enough to create a low bit-rate covert channel. The nature of first person shooter network protocols means the original FPSCC channel is noisy (not reliable), experiencing a significant number of bit errors (including synchronisation errors). We have now augmented FPSCC to ensure bits are transmitted reliably. Evaluation of our technique with a prototype demonstrates throughput of up to 13 bits/second without any bit errors.

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