Covert Communication Channel Detection in Low-Power Battery Operated IoT Devices: Leveraging Power Profiles

James Shelley, Hawzhin Mohammed, Lizzy Zink, Syed Rafay Hasan, Omar Elkeelany

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


A hardware trojan (HT) is a malicious addition or modification of the circuitry of an integrated circuit. A hardware Trojan is characterized by its physical representation and its behavior. The payload part of an HT is the entire activity that the Trojan executes when it is triggered. Malicious Trojans try to bypass or disable the security barrier of a system. It can leak confidential information by radio emission. HTs also can disable, derange or destroy the entire chip. Low-power battery operated IoT devices have limited security features of encryption or decryption, hence it is even more difficult to detect such anomalies. In this paper, we leveraged the low and power frugal feature of IoT device to our benefit and show that the hardware Trojan can be detected by judiciously observing the power profile of the IoT device. We propose that any covert channel activity in such low-power device can distinctly alter the power profile of such devices. Hence, it can lead to the detection of the covert channel in low-power IoT devices. This research looks at these different profiles devices on a test-bed which simulates IoT devices, with the end goal of detecting unwanted and/or malicious hardware Trojan running in the background.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSoutheastcon 2018
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538661338
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018
Event2018 IEEE Southeastcon, Southeastcon 2018 - St. Petersburg, United States
Duration: Apr 19 2018Apr 22 2018

Publication series

NameConference Proceedings - IEEE SOUTHEASTCON
ISSN (Print)1091-0050
ISSN (Electronic)1558-058X


Conference2018 IEEE Southeastcon, Southeastcon 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySt. Petersburg

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing


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