A Secure and Robust Covert Channel Based on Secret Sharing Scheme

  • Xiaorong Lu
  • Yang Wang
  • Liusheng Huang
  • Wei Yang
  • Yao Shen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9932)


Network covert channel (referred to as network steganography) is a covert communication technique that uses the redundancies of network protocols to transfer secret information. While encryption only protects communication from being decoded by unauthorised parties, a covert channel aims to hide the very existence of the secret communication. More recently focus has shifted towards network protocols based covert channels because the huge amount of data and vast number of different protocols in the Internet seems ideal as a high-bandwidth vehicle for covert communication. However, few approaches which can embed secret information with both great security and robustness ensured have been worked out by so far. In this paper, we propose a novel packet length based covert channel exploiting the secret sharing scheme in order to overcome the drawbacks of existing schemes. A comprehensive set of corresponding experiment results and security analysis show that the proposed covert channel is provably secure and with great robustness than that of the existing algorithms.


Covert channel Network steganography Packet length Network security Information hiding Network protocols 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 61572456, No. 61379131) and the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (No. BK20151241, No. BK20151239).


  1. 1.
    Shamir, A.: How to share a secret. Commun. ACM 22(11), 612–613 (1979)MathSciNetCrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Blakley, GR.: Safeguarding cryptographic keys. In: AFIPS 1979 National Computer Conference, vol. 48 (1979)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kothari, S.C.: Generalized linear threshold scheme. In: Blakely, G.R., Chaum, D. (eds.) CRYPTO 1984. LNCS, vol. 196, pp. 231–241. Springer, Heidelberg (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Simmons, G.J.: An introduction to shared secret and/or shared control schemes and their application. Contemp. Cryptol.: Sci. Inf. Integrity, pp. 441–497 (1992)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Beimel, A.: Secret-sharing schemes: a survey. In: Chee, Y.M., Guo, Z., Ling, S., Shao, F., Tang, Y., Wang, H., Xing, C. (eds.) IWCC 2011. LNCS, vol. 6639, pp. 11–46. Springer, Heidelberg (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sur, A., Nair, A.S., Kumar, A., et al.: Steganalysis of network packet length based data hiding. Circ. Syst. Sig. Process. 32, 1–18 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lampson, B.W.: A note on the confinement problem. Commun. ACM 16(10), 613–615 (1973)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Wolf, M.: Covert channels in LAN protocols. In: Local Area Network Security, Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 89–101 (1989)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tsai, C.R., Gligor, V.D., Chandersekaran, C.S.: A formal method for the identification of covert storage channels in source code. In: IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, p. 74 (1987)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cabuk, S., Brodley, C.E., Shields, C.: IP covert timing channels: design and detection. In: Proceedings of the 11th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, pp. 178–187. ACM (2004)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mazurczyk, W., Szczypiorski, K.: Steganography in handling oversized IP packets. In: Proceedings of First International Workshop on Network Steganography (IWNS 2009), Wuhan, Hubei, China, 18–20 November 2009 - Co-located with 2009 International Conference on Multimedia Information Networking and Security (MINES 2009), vol. I, pp. 569–572Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Padlipsky, M.A., Snow, D.W., Karger, P.A.: Limitations of end-to-end encryption in secure computer networks. MITRE CORP BEDFORD MA (1978)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Girling, C.G.: Covert channels in LAN’s. IEEE Trans. Softw. Eng. 2, 292–296 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nair A S, Kumar A, Sur A, et al.: Length based network steganography using UDP protocol. In: 2011 IEEE 3rd International Conference on Communication Software and Networks (ICCSN), pp. 726–730. IEEE (2011)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ji L, Jiang W, Dai B, et al.: A novel covert channel based on length of messages. In: International Symposium on Information Engineering and Electronic Commerce, IEEC 2009, pp. 551–554. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ji, L., Liang, H., Song, Y., et al.: A normal-traffic network covert channel. In: 2009 International Conference on Computational Intelligence and Security CIS 2009, vol. 1, pp. 499–503. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nair A S, Sur A, Nandi S. Detection of packet length based network steganography. In: 2010 International Conference on Multimedia Information Networking and Security (MINES), pp. 574–578. IEEE (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Quan-zhu, Y., Peng, Z.: Coverting channel based on packet length. Comput. Eng. 34(3), 183–185 (2008)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaorong Lu
    • 1
  • Yang Wang
    • 2
  • Liusheng Huang
    • 1
  • Wei Yang
    • 1
  • Yao Shen
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer Science and TechnologyUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.Suzhou Institute for Advanced StudyUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaSuzhouChina

Personalised recommendations