A covert channel attack is initiated by using an existing information channel to transfer objects from one source to another without the knowledge of the user. Since the system or information channel was not originally built for such communication or conveyance of information, hackers transfer the data in small bits to keep the attack unnoticed.
The data is embedded in the free space available in a data stream without affecting the main body of information being transferred. The space used for creating a covert channel may be the free space left within the padding or other parts of the network data packets. Usually, only 1-2 bits of covert data stream are added to one data packet which makes it difficult to detect the attack. As the original data is not tampered, the covert receiver can receive information from the system without creating a data trail.
Covert channels are of two types:
- Covert Time Channel- The processing of signal information of a network channel by manipulating own system resources which affects real response time observed by the original network.
- Covert Storage Channel- Direct or indirect embedding of data to a storage location by a system & direct or indirect reading of this data by another system at a different security level.
Using DNS As A Covert Channel
To create a covert channel, attacker installs a malware or specially designed program on the victim’s system via malicious links or by using remote administration to alter its DNS. An altered DNS is configured to serve random text in addition to website information. It behaves normally under usual conditions, but acts as per the covert channel program for a special domain. The flow of information between DNS & malware follows the normal client-server architecture. The malware plays the role of second component of covert channel. It sends DNS requests which look legitimate. The compromised DNS responds to these requests with hidden key information. Covert receiver extracts this hidden information. Thus, a covert channel uses a fully functional authorized system to transfer unauthorized information in a secretive manner.
Covert channel attacks make use of simple forums like a file or time used for computation, which makes it difficult to identify these attacks. Two techniques that are commonly used for detection of covert channels are analyzing the resources of a system and vigilance of the source code.
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Healthcare industry is moving towards preventive care solutions with the help of technological advancements. Digital innovative platforms like information systems and wearable devices are rapidly growing in health care market. Also, new technological trends like big data and healthcare analytics are gaining momentum. These advancements aim at achieving universal healthcare by making medical facilities accessible and affordable for everybody.
Technology trends that will potentially dominate healthcare industry in coming years are:
- Primary Healthcare: The industry is focusing on quality improvement techniques to enhance primary care based on accessibility and equity. This will promote good health among a wide range of people regardless of their age, socio-economic status or geographic origin. Primary care revolves around prevention and patient education for longer & healthier lives. New technologies such as mobile apps that track calories, sleep pattern & fitness plans for improved health cycle are being widely used for educating patients.
- Artificial Intelligence: Healthcare industry is employing artificial intelligence systems like IBM Watson for enhancing care management, drug discovery, managing patients for clinical trials, etc. Numerous other robotic and machine learning systems are being introduced in the healthcare sector as they offer attractive & valuable applications like image processing to detect abnormalities, robot assisted surgery, virtual nursing assistants and administrative assistance.
- Blockchain: The technology is gaining popularity in health care industry because of its ability to secure data and protect it from breaches. Blockchain will facilitate the health care providers to manage endless data including patient health information, insurance claims, and electronic health records in a hassle free manner. Also, it will increase transparency between pharmaceutical industry and customers by enhancing drug traceability to prevent fake drugs.
- Guiding Patients: Digital health tools like chatbots and companion robots have made healthcare accessible and convenient. They assist the patients in a humane way by addressing their needs. Chatbots make it possible for patients living in remote and rural areas to benefit from telemedicine projects and consult a doctor sitting far off through online channels. On the other hand, companion robots reduce workload of professionals like nurses & helping staff to save time and money.
- Advance Analytics: Adoption of predictive analytics across hospitals have made it easier to analyze large amount of patient’s data. The analytic tools are capable of identifying genetic factors related to chronic diseases like cancer and spotting individuals with elevated risks of developing these diseases. This plays a key role in formulating preventive medicine programs, providing appropriate treatment as early as possible, reducing the chances of high-cost lengthy treatments and admission costs.
For more information on how medical establishments can benefit from advanced IT solutions, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.