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Covert channel resistant information leakage protection using a multi-agent architecture

Covert channel resistant information leakage protection using a multi-agent architecture

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Covert channel attacks utilise shared resources to indirectly transmit sensitive information to unauthorised parties. Current operating systems (e.g. SELinux) rely on tagging the filesystem with security labels and enforcing security policies at the time of access to a file or resource. However, such mechanisms do not provide strong protection against information laundering via covert channels. Colored Linux, an extension to SELinux, utilises watermarking algorithms to ‘colour’ the contents of each file with their respective security classification, or context, to enhance resistance to information laundering attacks. In this study, the authors propose a mobile agent-based approach to automate the process of detecting and colouring receptive hosts' filesystems and monitoring the coloured filesystem for instances of potential information leakage. Implementation details and execution results are included to illustrate the merits of the proposed approach. The authors have also evaluated the performance of their agent-based system over a single host as well as a local network of machines. Finally, using formal method techniques, the authors have proved correctness properties about the agent-based approach and identified and corrected a flaw in their initial implementation.

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