Covert ephemeral communication in named data networking


In the last decade, there has been a growing realization that the current Internet Protocol is reaching the limits of its senescence. This has prompted several research efforts that aim to design potential next-generation Internet architectures. Named Data Networking (NDN), an instantiation of the content-centric approach to networking, is one such effort. In contrast with IP, NDN routers maintain a significant amount of user-driven state. In this paper we investigate how to use this state for covert ephemeral communication (CEC). CEC allows two or more parties to covertly exchange ephemeral messages, i.e., messages that become unavailable after a certain amount of time. Our techniques rely only on network-layer, rather than application-layer, services. This makes our protocols robust, and communication difficult to uncover. We show that users can build high-bandwidth CECs exploiting features unique to NDN: in-network caches, routers’ forwarding state and name matching rules. We assess feasibility and performance of proposed cover channels using a local setup and the official NDN testbed.

Proceedings of the 9th ACM symposium on Information, computer and communications security (AsiaCCS)