Peer-to-Peer Networking and Applications

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 143–157 | Cite as

XTRA—eXtended bit-Torrent pRotocol for Authenticated covert peer communication

Authenticated covert P2P communication
  • Avinash SrinivasanEmail author
  • Hatoon Aldharrab


Today, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks have risen to the top echelon of information sharing on the Internet. Consequently, it is a daunting task to prevent sharing of both legitimate and illegitimate information such as—music, movies, software, and child pornography—on P2P overt channels. Considering that, preventing covert channel information sharing is inconceivable given even its detection is near impossible. The standard P2P bit-torrent peer wire communication protocol uses a very simple handshake process and as such does not provide peer authentication service. In this paper, we propose XTRA—a framework for covert communication using the standard bit-torrent protocol with a robust handshake process for authentication among covert peers. Under this framework, covert peers authenticate each other prior to covert message exchanges. Participating peers send data over an encrypted covert channel making use of only the standard bit-torrent message types. We have validated the performance XTRA through a working prototype implementation and present results comparing it with two state-of-the-art techniques. Finally, we have analyzed the robustness of XTRA to popular security attacks.


Authentication Bit-torrent Covert channel Handshake Information hiding P2P networks Security Steganography 


  1. 1.
    Antineskul AV, Bezukladnikov II (Feb 2016) The building of covert channels in serverless p2p filesharing networks. In: 2016 IEEE NW Russia young researchers in electrical and electronic engineering conference (EIConRusNW), pp 124– 128Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arianpoo N, Leung VCM (2017) A smart fairness mechanism for concurrent multipath transfer in sctp over wireless multi-hop networks. Ad Hoc Netw 55:40–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bhattacharjee AK, Das A (2015) Impact of basic parameters in the performance of BitTorrent protocol-a survey.
  4. 4.
    Butler P, Xu K, Yao DD (2011) Quantitatively analyzing stealthy communication channels. In: Applied cryptography and network security. Springer, Berlin, pp 238–254Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chan-Tin E, Heorhiadi V, Hopper N, Kim Y (2014) Hijacking the vuze BitTorrent network: all your hop are belong to us. IET Inf Secur 9(4):203–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chang H-P, Kan H-W, Ho M-H (2012) Adaptive tcp congestion control and routing schemes using cross-layer information for mobile ad hoc networks. Comput Commun 35(4):454–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cunche M, Kaafar MA, Boreli R (2014) Asynchronous covert communication using bittorrent trackers. In: 2014 IEEE international conference on high performance computing and communications, 2014 IEEE 6th international symposium on cyberspace safety and security, 2014 IEEE 11th international conference on embedded software and system (HPCC, CSS, ICESS). IEEE, pp 827–830Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Desimone J, Johnson D, Yuan B, Lutz P (2012) Covert channel in the bittorrent tracker protocol. In: Proceedings of the international conference on security and management (SAM). The Steering Committee of The World Congress in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Applied Computing (WorldComp), p 1Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eidenbenz R, Locher T, Wattenhofer R (2011) Hidden communication in p2p networks steganographic handshake and broadcast. In: INFOCOM, 2011 Proceedings IEEE. IEEE, pp 954–962Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gao B, Zhai J (2016) A survey of covert channels in bittorrent networkGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Goudar RM, Wagh SJ, MD Goudar (2011) Secure data transmission using steganography based data hiding in tcp/ip. In: Proceedings of the international conference & workshop on emerging trends in technology. ACM, pp 974–979Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Johnson D, Lutz P, Yuan B (2010) Behavior-based covert channel in cyberspace. In: Intelligent decision making systems, pp 311–318Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Khan FA, Imran M, Abbas H, Durad M (2017) A detection and prevention system against collaborative attacks in mobile ad hoc networks. Futur Gener Comput Syst 68:416–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kopiczko P, Mazurczyk W, Szczypiorski K (2013) Stegtorrent: a steganographic method for the p2p file sharing service. In: Security and privacy workshops (SPW), 2013 IEEE. IEEE, pp 151–157Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kundur D, Ahsan K (2003) Practical internet steganography: data hiding in ip. In: Proceedings of the Texas wksp. Security of information systemsGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Li Y, Bao X (2017) Bitmap-based steganographic handshake and hidden communication in BitTorrent network. IEEJ Trans Elec Electron Eng, 12:721–727. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Li Z, Sun X, Wang B, Wang X (2008) A steganography scheme in p2p network. In: IIHMSP’08 international conference on intelligent information hiding and multimedia signal processing, 2008. IEEE, pp 20–24Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mazurczyk W, Karas M, Szczypiorski K (2013) Skyde: a skype-based steganographic method. arXiv:1301.3632
  19. 19.
    Sharma VK, Kumar M (2017) Adaptive congestion control scheme in mobile ad-hoc networks. Peer-to-Peer Netw Appl 10(3):633–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sharma VK, Shukla SSP, Singh V (2012) A tailored q-learning for routing in wireless sensor networks. In: 2012 2nd IEEE international conference on parallel distributed and grid computing (PDGC). IEEE, pp 663–668Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tan Q, Shi J, Fang B, Zhang W, Wang X (2015) StegoP2P: Oblivious user-driven unobservable communications. In Communications (ICC), 2015 IEEE International Conference on (pp. 7126–7131). IEEEGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Vu CH, Soneye A (2009) “An Analysis of Collaborative Attacks on Mobile Ad hoc Networks,” Master Thesis at School of Computing, Blekinge Institute of Technology, 2009Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wang K, Chai TY, Wong W-C (2016) Routing, power control and rate adaptation: a q-learning-based cross-layer design. Comput Netw 102(Supplement C):20–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wielaard M (2003) The hunting of the snark project - bittorrent application suite. Accessed 21 Apr 2013Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Xu K (2013) Performance modeling of bittorrent peer-to-peer file sharing networks. arXiv:1311.1195
  26. 26.
    Yarochkin FV, Dai S-Y, Lin C-H, Huang Y, Kuo S-Y (2009) Introducing p2p architecture in adaptive covert communication system. In: First Asian Himalayas international conference on internet. AH-ICI 2009. IEEE, pp 1–7Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information SciencesTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health SciencesRiyadhSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations