Visible to the public Covert Communications in Packet Collision Channels

TitleCovert Communications in Packet Collision Channels
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsSheikholeslami, Azadeh, Ghaderi, Majid, Goeckel, Dennis
Conference Name2019 IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC)
Date PublishedApril 2019
ISBN Number978-1-5386-7646-2
Keywordsaccess protocols, achievable covert rates, channel capacity, channel coding, composability, compositionality, Conferences, covert channels, covert communications, covert rate, covert systems, decision theory, Detectors, Measurement, medium-access control layer, Monitoring, packet collision channels, Physical layer, physical layer environment, physical-layer models, pubcrawl, random access MAC, random access system, Receivers, resilience, Resiliency, Scalability, security, slotted ALOHA, sophisticated receiver, telecommunication channels, telecommunication security, transmitted signal, transmitter Alice, unauthorized users, watchful adversary Willie, Willie's receiver, wireless system security

Covert communications, where a transmitter Alice wishes to hide the presence of her transmitted signal from a watchful adversary Willie, has been considered extensively in recent years. Those investigations have generally considered physical-layer models, where the adversary has access to a sophisticated (often optimal) receiver to determine whether a transmission has taken place, and have addressed the question of what rate can information be communicated covertly. More recent investigations have begun to consider the change in covert rate when Willie has uncertainty about the physical layer environment. Here, we move up the protocol stack to consider the covert rate when Willie is watching the medium-access control (MAC) layer in a network employing a random access MAC such as slotted ALOHA. Based on the rate of collisions and potentially the number of users involved in those collisions, Willie attempts to determine whether unauthorized (covert) users are accessing the channel. In particular, we assume different levels of sophistication in Willie's receiver, ranging from a receiver that only can detect whether there was a collision or not, to one that can always tell exactly how many packets were on the channel in the random access system. In each case, we derive closed-form expressions for the achievable covert rates in the system. The achievable rates exhibit significantly different behavior than that observed in the study of covert systems at the physical layer.

Citation Keysheikholeslami_covert_2019