Covertly Controlling a Linear System

Barak Amihood, Asaf Cohen

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


Consider the problem of covertly controlling a linear system. In this problem, Alice desires to control (stabilize or change the parameters of) a linear system, while keeping an observer, Willie, unable to decide if the system is indeed being controlled or not.We formally define the problem, under the model when Willie can only observe the system's output. Focusing on AR(1) systems, we show that when Willie observes the system's output through a clean channel, an inherently unstable linear system can not be covertly stabilized. However, an inherently stable linear system can be covertly controlled, in the sense of covertly changing its parameter. Moreover, we give positive and negative results for two important controllers: a minimal-information controller, where Alice is allowed to use only 1 bit per sample, and a maximal-information controller, where Alice is allowed to view the real-valued output. Unlike covert communication, where the trade-off is between rate and covertness; and in cyber-physical systems the trade-off is between control and attack detection, the results reveal an interesting three-fold trade-off in covert control: the amount of information used by the controller, control performance and covertness. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study formally defining covert control.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIEEE Information Theory Workshop, ITW 2022
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781665483414
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Event2022 IEEE Information Theory Workshop, ITW 2022 - Mumbai, India
Duration: 1 Nov 20229 Nov 2022

Publication series

Name2022 IEEE Information Theory Workshop, ITW 2022


Conference2022 IEEE Information Theory Workshop, ITW 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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