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[tor-talk] Games Without Frontiers: Investigating Video Games as a Covert Channel



Hey all,

I just thought I'd share and get feedback about some recent work from our
team at Stony Brook University.

Title: Games Without Frontiers: Investigating Video Games as a Covert
Channel [ http://arxiv.org/pdf/1503.05904v1.pdf ]
Abstract: The Internet has become a critical communication infrastructure
for citizens to organize protests and express dissatisfaction with their
governments. This fact has not gone unnoticed, with governments clamping
down on this medium via censorship, and circumvention researchers working
tirelessly to stay one step ahead. In this paper, we explore a promising
new avenue for covert channels: using video games as a cover protocol. The
popularity of platforms like Steam have given rise to a rich population of
video games for use as cover. The common properties of games in the same
genre simplify the process of adapting channels to evade detection. We
demonstrate the feasibility of this approach using two real time strategy
games (including a popular closed-source game). We show how common
properties of these games can be used to design a coding scheme to
translate data into game commands in a way that is general across games and
requires little per-game customizations. We evaluate the security of Castle
by quantifying its resilience to a censor-adversary, its similarity to real
game traffic, and its ability to avoid common pitfalls in covert channel
design. We use our prototype to demonstrate that Castle can provide
throughput which is amenable to transfer of textual data (\eg e-mail, short
articles, etc.).

I thought this was a cool idea, and had a lot of fun exploring it. One of
the key changes that Castle brings to the PT landscape is easy
extensibility and large space diversity -- i.e., it takes very little skill
and developer time to port Castle to any of 100's of existing (and
perennially releasing) RTS games, in the event that it is detected and
blocked for one game. Please check out the paper and feel free to post
questions here, or email them to me.

Rishab
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