Peer-to-Peer Networking and Applications

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 277–286 | Cite as

Whispers in the cloud storage: A novel cross-user deduplication-based covert channel design

  • Hermine Hovhannisyan
  • Wen Qi
  • Kejie Lu
  • Rongwei Yang
  • Jianping Wang


To efficiently provide cloud storage services, most providers implement data deduplication schemes so as to reduce storage and network bandwidth consumption. Due to its broad application, many security issues about data deduplication have been investigated, such as data security, user privacy, etc. Nevertheless, we note that the threat of establishing covert channel over cloud storage has not been fully investigated. In particular, existing studies only demonstrate the potential of a single-bit channel, in which a sender can upload one of the two predefined files for a receiver to infer the information of “0” and “1”. In this paper, we design a more powerful deduplication-based covert channel that can be used to transmit a complete message. Specifically, the key features of our design include: (1) a synchronization scheme that can establish a covert channel between a sender and a receiver, and (2) a novel coding scheme that allows each file to represent multiple bits in the message. To evaluate the proposed design, we implement the covert channel and conduct extensive experiments in different cloud storage systems. Our work highlights a more severe security threat in cloud storage services.


Cloud storage service Deduplication Covert channel 



The work is supported in part by a General Research Fund from Hong Kong Research Grant Council under project 122913 and project 61272462 from NSFC China, and by the Shanghai Oriental Scholar Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceCity University of Hong KongKowloonHong Kong
  2. 2.School of Computer EngineeringShanghai University of Electric PowerShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of Puerto Rico at MayagüezMayagüezPuerto Rico
  4. 4.School of Computer Science and TechnologyUniversity of Science and Technology of China(USTC)HefeiChina

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