Journal of Computer Science and Technology ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (6): 1351-1365.doi: 10.1007/s11390-019-1979-8

• Computer Networks and Distributed Computing • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An Efficient Approach for Mitigating Covert Storage Channel Attacks in Virtual Machines by the Anti-Detection Criterion

Chong Wang1,2, Student Member, CCF, Nasro Min-Allah3, Bei Guan1, Yu-Qi Lin4, Jing-Zheng Wu1, Member, CCF, Yong-Ji Wang1,2, Senior Member, CCF   

  1. 1 Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China;
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China;
    3 College of Computer Science and Information Technology, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam 1982 Saudi Arabia;
    4 Block Chain Research Center, Blue Helix, Grand Cayman KY1-1100, Cayman Islands
  • Received:2018-11-29 Revised:2019-09-09 Online:2019-11-16 Published:2019-11-16
  • About author:Chong Wang is currently working toward his Ph.D. degree at the Institute of Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. He received his B.S. degree in computer science and technology from Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, in 2014. His main research interests include covert channel analysis, virtualization techniques, and information hiding.
  • Supported by:
    The work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 61772507 and the National Key Research and Development Program of China under Grant No. 2017YFB1002300.

Covert channels have been an effective means for leaking confidential information across security domains and numerous studies are available on typical covert channels attacks and defenses. Existing covert channel threat restriction solutions are based on the threat estimation criteria of covert channels such as capacity, accuracy, and short messages which are effective in evaluating the information transmission ability of a covert (storage) channel. However, these criteria cannot comprehensively reflect the key factors in the communication process such as shared resources and synchronization and therefore are unable to evaluate covertness and complexity of increasingly upgraded covert storage channels. As a solution, the anti-detection criterion was introduced to eliminate these limitations of cover channels. Though effective, most threat restriction techniques inevitably incur high performance overhead and hence become impractical. In this work, we avoid such overheads and present a restriction algorithm based on the anti-detection criterion to restrict threats that are associated with covert storage channels in virtual machines while maintaining the resource efficiency of the systems. Experimental evaluation shows that our proposed solution is able to counter covert storage channel attacks in an effective manner. Compared with Pump, a well-known traditional restriction algorithm used in practical systems, our solution significantly reduces the system overhead.

Key words: covert storage channel; information security; covert channel threat evaluation; security and privacy protection;

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