In this thesis, we designed and implemented a new covert channel over the RTP protocol. The covert channel modifies the timestamp value in the RTP header to send its secret messages. The high frequency of RTP packets allows for a high bitrate covert channel, theoretically up to 350 bps. The broad use of RTP for multimedia applications, including VoIP, provides plentiful opportunities to use this channel. By using the RTP header, many of the challenges present for covert channels using the RTP payload are avoided. Using the reference implementation of this covert channel, bitrates of up to 325 bps were observed. Speed decreases on less reliable networks, though message delivery was flawless with up to 1% RTP packet loss. The channel is very difficult to detect due to expected variations in the timestamp field and the flexible nature of RTP.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Computer security; Internet telephony--Security measures; Cryptography; Real-time data processing; Computer network protocols
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Forbes, Christopher, "A New covert channel over RTP" (2009). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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