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Article

Reversible and Plausibly Deniable Covert Channels in One-Time Passwords Based on Hash Chains

1
Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, FernUniversität in Hagen, 58084 Hagen, Germany
2
Department of Computer Science, Worms University of Applied Sciences, 67549 Worms, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
This paper is an extended version of our paper published in European Interdisciplinary Cybersecurity Conference 2020, cf. https://doi.org/10.1145/3424954.3424966.
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(2), 731; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020731
Received: 10 December 2020 / Revised: 8 January 2021 / Accepted: 11 January 2021 / Published: 13 January 2021
Covert channels enable stealthy communications over innocent appearing carriers. They are increasingly applied in the network context. However, little work is available that exploits cryptographic primitives in the networking context to establish such covert communications. We present a covert channel between two devices where one device authenticates itself with Lamport’s one-time passwords based on a cryptographic hash function. Our channel enables plausible deniability jointly with reversibility and is applicable in different contexts, such as traditional TCP/IP networks, CPS/IoT communication, blockchain-driven systems and local inter-process communications that apply hash chains. We also present countermeasures to detect the presence of such a covert channel, which are non-trivial because hash values are random-looking binary strings, so that deviations are not likely to be detected. We report on experimental results with MD5 and SHA-3 hash functions for two covert channel variants running in a localhost setup. In particular, we evaluate the channels’ time performance, conduct statistical tests using the NIST suite and run a test for matching hash values between legitimate and covert environments to determine our channels’ stealthiness. View Full-Text
Keywords: cryptographic hash function; hash chain; plausible deniability; steganography; covert channel cryptographic hash function; hash chain; plausible deniability; steganography; covert channel
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MDPI and ACS Style

Keller, J.; Wendzel, S. Reversible and Plausibly Deniable Covert Channels in One-Time Passwords Based on Hash Chains. Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 731. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020731

AMA Style

Keller J, Wendzel S. Reversible and Plausibly Deniable Covert Channels in One-Time Passwords Based on Hash Chains. Applied Sciences. 2021; 11(2):731. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020731

Chicago/Turabian Style

Keller, Jörg, and Steffen Wendzel. 2021. "Reversible and Plausibly Deniable Covert Channels in One-Time Passwords Based on Hash Chains" Applied Sciences 11, no. 2: 731. https://doi.org/10.3390/app11020731

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