HTML5 Zero Configuration Covert Channels: Security Risks and Challenges

Jason Farina, Mark Scanlon, Stephen Kohlmann, Nhien-An Le-Khac, Tahar Kechadi


In recent months there has been an increase in the popularity and public awareness of secure, cloudless file transfer systems. The aim of these services is to facilitate the secure transfer of files in a peer-to-peer (P2P) fashion over the Internet without the need for centralized authentication or storage. These services can take the form of client installed applications or entirely web browser based interfaces. Due to their P2P nature, there is generally no limit to the file sizes involved or to the volume of data transmitted - and where these limitations do exist they will be purely reliant on the capacities of the systems at either end of the transfer. By default, many of these services provide seamless, end-to-end encryption to their users. The cybersecurity and cyberforensic consequences of the potential criminal use of such services are signicant. The ability to easily transfer encrypted data over the Internet opens up a range of opportunities for illegal use to cybercriminals requiring minimal technical know-how. This paper explores a number of these services and provides an analysis of the risks they pose to corporate and governmental security. A number of methods for the forensic investigation of such transfers are discussed.


Covert Transfers, Encrypted Data Transmission, Counter-forensics

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