A Cross-layer Plausibly Deniable Encryption System for Mobile Devices

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Computer Science


Mobile computing devices have been used to store and process sensitive or even mission critical data. To protect sensitive data in mobile devices, encryption is usually incorporated into major mobile operating systems. However, traditional encryption can not defend against coercive attacks in which victims are forced to disclose the key used to decrypt the sensitive data. To combat the coercive attackers, plausibly deniable encryption (PDE) has been introduced which can allow the victims to deny the existence of the sensitive data. However, the existing PDE systems designed for mobile devices are either insecure (i.e., suffering from deniability compromises) or impractical (i.e., unable to be compatible with the storage architecture of mainstream mobile devices, not lightweight, or not user-oriented). In this work, we design CrossPDE, the first cross-layer mobile PDE system which is secure, being compatible with the storage architecture of mainstream mobile devices, lightweight as well as user-oriented. Our key idea is to intercept major layers of a mobile storage system, including the file system layer (preventing loss of hidden sensitive data and enabling users to use the hidden mode), the block layer (taking care of expensive encryption and decryption), and the flash translation layer (eliminating traces caused by the hidden sensitive data). Experimental evaluation on our real-world prototype shows that CrossPDE can ensure deniability with a modest decrease in throughput.

Publication Title

Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, LNICST