Securing Cybersecurity with Covert Response
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Covert political action encompasses a range of detrimental practices, such as assassination, support for coup d’etat, sabotage and theft, dissemination of disinformation, use of agents provocateurs, and espionage.
Successful cyber attacks, if successful, are usually illegal and require some morally sound justification for undertaking them. They may, however, be justified for purely defensive purposes like deterring cyber-attacks by foreign governments that pose a danger to US ICT infrastructure.
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A covert channel is a communication method employed by attackers to send and receive data in violation of a system’s security policy. This can be accomplished by taking advantage of shared storage or memory resources or exploiting different communication protocols.
A covert channel can be an avenue for attackers to obtain sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by breaking into computers or networks.
Cyber-physical systems (CPSs) rely on distributed control logic for managing machine operations, making this type of attack particularly hazardous. If an attacker gains access to CPS software, they could inject malware into the controller and rearrange its control logic without being noticed. Furthermore, attackers could use this information to launch a false data injection attack which could cripple performance while going undetected.
Due to this, using covert channels in a cybersecurity environment is crucial. However, it’s essential to identify and detect covert channels before they can be utilized for malicious attacks.
Some methods that can be employed to detect covert channels include analyzing system resources and inspecting source code. Others may involve running a simulator that replicates a vulnerable virtual machine so that differences between them can be identified in real-time.
A more advanced method for detecting covert channels involves recognizing synchronization variables that could be utilized for operations on multiple data variables. Depending on how the sender and receiver set and read these synchronization variables, they could be aggregated in serial or parallel to provide optimal bandwidth for a given amount of data.
These methods can be helpful for uncovering possible covert channels, but they are not guaranteed. Care must be taken when analyzing them for accuracy.
To effectively detect and handle covert channels, you must take into account the vulnerabilities of a targeted system and its architecture. This includes not only kernels and trusted processes but also hardware instructions and user-visible registers.
Covert channels are methods used for circumvention or attack that allow the unauthorized transmission of information over a communication channel. They may be employed for espionage purposes or to boost the security of crucial communications networks.
The most prevalent covert channel is timing-based, employing delay to separate bits of information. Another type is storage-based, which utilizes shared storage or memory resources not intended for data transmission.
These types of channels can be established by altering the arrival patterns of packets. This provides an attacker with a means to transmit data from a secure computer system to an insecure one.
These channels are typically implemented at different layers of the TCP/IP protocol stack, such as at the link layer and application layer. This enables an attacker to circumvent security policies on the network while still enabling basic features like simultaneous connections or session management.
However, the effectiveness of these channels depends on their resistance to detection. It’s essential that they can bypass systems with advanced detection technologies, such as firewalls.
To avoid detection, some methods have been devised to reduce the bandwidth of a covert channel by interjecting delays or noise into it. While these do not guarantee security, they postpone it until an attacker has more time to respond than what would be possible with standard covert channels.
For instance, a slower channel might use one-thousandth of a data bit per second. This would require the malicious user to wait several hours or days for an answer before believing it is accurate.
By contrast, a faster channel might use one-hundredth of a data bit per second and provide probabilistic answers with seventy-five percent correct answers and twenty-five percent incorrect. This makes it more likely for malicious users to believe the answer is correct.
Security systems have been breached through various types of covert channels, including timing-based, storage-based, and physical ones. Countermeasures have been devised to prevent these breaches, such as shielding, jamming, and runtime detection to protect data.
A covert channel is a communication mechanism that permits information to be transferred between processes without being authorized by the system’s security policy. These channels often exist in multilevel systems and can be exploited by malicious users to transfer classified data beyond their clearance level.
A covert channel can be detected using a variety of techniques. These range from analyzing the resources of a system to working at the source-code level.
One common technique is timing detection. This works by examining the frequency of time intervals between packets in a network. If this deviation deviates from an established threshold, an attacker can be detected by the network.
One type of covert channel is noise detection. This involves monitoring the output noise from a sensor to identify signals sent by a covert channel.
However, this technique may be challenging to implement due to its extensive processing and error control coding requirements. Furthermore, detecting an attacker who frequently changes an encoding scheme or protocol may prove challenging.
Other techniques involve tracking data distribution over time and comparing it with other signals. This can be done by measuring various metrics, such as delay between packet delivery and reception.
This method can be useful to detect potential covert channels, though it may not be suitable for all networks. For instance, a network with many sensors and actuators might have difficulty detecting a covert channel due to the variability in timing statistics.
Counteracting covert channels requires preempting their exploitation from the start. To do this, developers should employ methodologies that prevent ambiguities in protocols, services, and architectures from being exploited during early development stages. Doing this helps reduce overall costs associated with defending against covert channels.
A covert channel is a cyber weapon that can be utilized to transfer sensitive data in an unauthorized or illicit manner. It may also be employed to extract information from an organization or implant data into it.
Cyberattackers can utilize Internet covert channels to conceal a cyber weapon, such as downloading malware from an external server onto a host within an organization’s private network. This is similar to using a briefcase with a secret compartment to sneak weapons past security guards into or out of secure facilities.
To utilize a covert channel, an adversary must find an information channel with low bandwidth that is noisy enough to corrupt the data signal. This noise makes the channel’s data probabilistic, necessitating multiple retransmissions in order to accept any given answer to yes-or-no questions.
Additionally, error control coding is necessary to reliably transmit signals through a noisy channel. This requires extensive processing power. Furthermore, the detection of noise can be challenging, particularly in busy environments where other processes run concurrently and interpose themselves.
Conversely, legitimate channels designed to transmit data through the computer system can be safeguarded with various security measures. These may include encryption and steganography, which transform messages into unintelligible codes and hide them within what appears to be innocent messages or data.
Another type of covert channel is a timing channel, which utilizes delay to separate bits of information between senders and receivers. This can be accomplished either by reprogramming hardware or abusing different communication protocols.
A storage channel is similar to a timing channel, except it utilizes storage variables for synchronization or data transfers between senders and receivers. This could be shared memory or an external hard drive.
A covert channel is a vulnerability in the multilevel policy of a computer system that permits malicious users to access data classified beyond their user’s clearance. This occurs because an otherwise legitimate program running within the system can be modified so as to allow malicious users to send data through this covert channel – known as an “information leakage problem” (ILP).
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