Sensing Danger: Exploiting Sensors to Build Covert Channels

Thomas Ulz, Markus Feldbacher, Thomas Pieber, Christian Steger

Abstract

Recent incidents have shown that sensor-equipped devices can be used by adversaries to perform malicious activities, such as spying on end-users or for industrial espionage. In this paper, we present a novel attack scenario that uses unsecured embedded sensors to build covert channels that can be used to bypass security mechanisms and transfer information between isolated processes. We present covert channels that require read- and write-access for sensor registers as well as a covert channel that transfers data by just triggering sensor readings so that malicious behavior cannot be distinguished from normal sensor usage. For each presented covert channel we discuss the trade-off between data rate and the likelihood of being detected as well as potential countermeasures. The fastest covert channel we implemented achieves a data rate of 4844 bit/s while the stealthiest but slower covert channel cannot be distinguished from normal user behavior. To highlight the significance of these security issues, we used popular platforms, such as Linux and Android, to evaluate the presented covert channels. However, we do not make any assumption regarding the device’s platform, and thus we believe that the presented exploits pose a significant security risk for any sensor-equipped device.

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Paper Citation


in Harvard Style

Ulz T., Feldbacher M., Pieber T. and Steger C. (2019). Sensing Danger: Exploiting Sensors to Build Covert Channels.In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy - Volume 1: ICISSP, ISBN 978-989-758-359-9, pages 100-113. DOI: 10.5220/0007353801000113


in Bibtex Style

@conference{icissp19,
author={Thomas Ulz and Markus Feldbacher and Thomas Pieber and Christian Steger},
title={Sensing Danger: Exploiting Sensors to Build Covert Channels},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy - Volume 1: ICISSP,},
year={2019},
pages={100-113},
publisher={SciTePress},
organization={INSTICC},
doi={10.5220/0007353801000113},
isbn={978-989-758-359-9},
}


in EndNote Style

TY - CONF

JO - Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Information Systems Security and Privacy - Volume 1: ICISSP,
TI - Sensing Danger: Exploiting Sensors to Build Covert Channels
SN - 978-989-758-359-9
AU - Ulz T.
AU - Feldbacher M.
AU - Pieber T.
AU - Steger C.
PY - 2019
SP - 100
EP - 113
DO - 10.5220/0007353801000113