Computer Engineering Seminar

Chupja–PHY Covert Channels: Can you see the Idles?

Hakim WeatherspoonAssociate ProfessorCornell University

Network covert timing channels embed secret messages in legitimate packets by
modulating interpacket delays. Such channels are normally implemented in higher
network layers (layer 3 or above), are often fairly slow, and can be easily
detected or prevented. In this talk, I will present a new approach, Chupja
(Korean for spy), which is a very effective covert timing channel that works over
the Internet. It is implemented in the physical layer of the network stack and is
many orders of magnitude faster than prior art while being very robust and
virtually invisible to software endhosts. Key to our approach is software and
real-time access and control over every bit in the physical layer of a 10 Gigabit
network stack (a bit is 100 picoseconds wide at 10 gigabit per seconds), which
allows us to modulate and interpret interpacket spacings at sub-microsecond
scale. In the talk, I will discuss when and how a timing channel in the physical
layer works, how hard it is to detect such a channel, and what is required to do
Hakim Weatherspoon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer
Science at Cornell University. He is on a one year sabbatical at the University
of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory. His research interests cover various aspects
of fault-tolerance, reliability, security, and performance of large
Internet-scale (and rack-scale!) systems such as cloud computing and distributed
systems. He received his Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley and
B.S. from University of Washington. He is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and
recipient of an NSF CAREER award, DARPA Computer Science Study Panel (CSSP), IBM
Faculty Award, the NetApp Faculty Fellowship, Intel Early Career Faculty Honor,
and the Future Internet Architecture award from the National Science Foundation

More information about Hakim is available online at his research group website and/or personal website

Sponsored by


Faculty Host

Peter Chen