Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Creation of a covert communications network for evasion of surveillance
by Nish, Rose, M.S., University of the Pacific, 2016, 65; 10117064
Abstract (Summary)

People all around the world have their internet access censored or monitored by governments or large corporations. Whistleblowers and human rights activists oftentimes need to communicate in secret to avoid persecution by the powerful organization monitoring their communications. Current anonymity systems often depend on the public internet, and as such are subject to some degree of interference.

Cloak is a textual communication network created to hide the existence of the network itself from an outside observer, such as a repressive government or corrupt corporation. Cloak does not use the public internet, and as such would evade the majority of the monitoring in place today. Cloak also does not use any special infrastructure or create its own infrastructure, minimizing the risk of infrastructure attacks. Finally, Cloak provides plausible deniability for its users should they be investigated.

Cloak works by hiding its messages inside of normal phone activity. Two Cloak nodes can identify each other by looking at wifi probe messages that are generated by phones in the vicinity of an open wifi hotspot. They can then connect to the hotspot and browse like normal, while hiding messages inside their browsing. Because this is open wifi, the other nodes can see the hidden messages and store them, and carry them closer to their destination.

Cloak can hide its messages in a lot of ways. It can first send images with messages embedded in them. It can also use places where a website asks for data in a opaque format, such as YouTube video ids. Finally, if encrypted browsing is available, a Cloak node can just send the encrypted message and act like something went wrong with its encrypted browsing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shafer, Jeffrey
Commitee: El Kari, Chadi, Hayes, Emma
School: University of the Pacific
Department: Engineering
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 55/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Computer Engineering, Computer science
Keywords: Anonymous communication, Computer networks, Delay tolerant networks
Publication Number: 10117064
ISBN: 978-1-339-78467-0
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