An optical covert-channel to leak data through an air-gap

Mordechai Guri, Ofer Hasson, Gabi Kedma, Yuval Elovici

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years, various out-of-band covert channels have been proposed that demonstrate the feasibility of leaking data out of computers without the need for network connectivity. The methods proposed have been based on different type of electromagnetic, acoustic, and thermal emissions. However, optical channels have largely been considered less covert: Because they are visible to the human eye and hence can be detected, they have received less attention from researchers. In this paper, we introduce VisiSploit, a new type of optical covert channel which, unlike other optical methods, is also stealthy. Our method exploits the limitations of human visual perception in order to unobtrusively leak data through a standard computer LCD display. Our experiments show that very low contrast or fast flickering images which are invisible to human subjects, can be recovered from photos taken by a camera. Consequentially, we show that malicious code on a compromised computer can obtain sensitive data (e.g., images, encryption keys, passwords), and project it onto a computer LCD screen, invisible and unbeknownst to users, allowing an attacker to reconstruct the data using a photo taken by a nearby (possibly hidden) camera. Our research yielding novel attack paradigms that exploit the subtle mechanisms of human visual perception.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2016 14th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust, PST 2016
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages642-649
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781509043798
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Event14th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust, PST 2016 - Auckland, New Zealand
Duration: 12 Dec 201614 Dec 2016

Publication series

Name2016 14th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust, PST 2016

Conference

Conference14th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust, PST 2016
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
CityAuckland
Period12/12/1614/12/16

Keywords

  • Air-Gap
  • Covert-Channel
  • Optical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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