Sneak-Peek: High speed covert channels in data center networks

Rashid Tahir, Mohammad Taha Khan, Xun Gong, Adnan Ahmed, Amiremad Ghassami, Hasanat Kazmi, Matthew Caesar, Fareed Zaffar, Negar Kiyavash

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With the advent of big data, modern businesses face an increasing need to store and process large volumes of sensitive customer information on the cloud. In these environments, resources are shared across a multitude of mutually untrusting tenants increasing propensity for data leakage. This problem stands to grow further in severity with increasing use of clouds in all aspects of our daily lives and the recent spate of high-profile data exfiltration attacks are evidence. To highlight this serious issue, we present a novel and highspeed network-based covert channel that is robust and circumvents a broad set of security mechanisms currently deployed by cloud vendors. We successfully test our channel on numerous network environments, including commercial clouds such as EC2 and Azure. Using an information theoretic model of the channel, we derive an upper bound on the maximum information rate and propose an optimal coding scheme. Our adaptive decoding algorithm caters to the cross traffic in the channel and maintains high bit rates and extremely low error rates. Finally, we discuss several effective avenues for mitigation of the aforementioned channel and provide insights into how data exfiltration can be prevented in such shared environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIEEE INFOCOM 2016 - 35th Annual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781467399531
StatePublished - Jul 27 2016
Event35th Annual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications, IEEE INFOCOM 2016 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Apr 10 2016Apr 14 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Other35th Annual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications, IEEE INFOCOM 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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