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Steganography is, the art and science of hiding

information in ways that prevent the detection of hidden information.

The word is derived from Greek, meaning

The goal of steganography is to avoid drawing

suspicion to the transmission of a hidden message.


During World War 2 invisible ink was used to write

information on pieces of paper. Liquids such as vinegar and fruit juices were used, because each one of these substances on heating would get darken and become visible to the human eye. In Ancient Greece, wax covered tablets were used to send messages. Message was written underneath, then wax was re-applied. The recipient of the message would simply remove the wax from the tablet to view the message. In Ancient Greece, Kings used to select messengers and shave their head and write a message on their scalp. After the hair grew back, messenger was sent to deliver the message, the recipient would shave have off the messengers hair to see the secret message.




STEG-FILE (with hidden data)

STEG-FILE (with hidden data)

The simplest and most common type of image

steganography is LSB (least significant bit). The one bit of a byte is used to encode the hidden information. By doing so, the value of each pixel is changed slightly, but not enough to make significant visual changes to the image, when compared to the original.
When using a 24-bit image, a bit of each of the red, green

and blue colour components can be used, since they are each represented by a byte. In other words, one can store 3 bits in each pixel.

For example a grid for 3 pixels of a 24-bit image can be as follows:

(00101101 00011100 11011100) (10100110 11000100 00001100) (11010010 10101101 01100011)

Suppose we want to encode the letter A (ASCII 65 or binary 01000001) then it is embedded into the least significant bits of this part of the image, the resulting grid is as follows:
(00101100 00011101 11011100) (10100110 11000100 00001100) (11010010 10101101 01100011)

Image in which we want to hide another image

Image we wish to hide

Stego-image after hiding process

Bliss.bmp No Steganography Detected




Since there are 256 possible intensities of each primary colour, changing the LSB of a pixel results in small changes in the intensity of the colours. These changes cannot be perceived by the human eye thus the message is successfully hidden. GIF images can also be used for LSB steganography, although extra care should be taken. The problem with the palette approach used with GIF images is that should one change the least significant bit of a pixel, it can result in a completely different colour since the index to the colour palette is changed. Solution to the problem is to use greyscale images. In an 8-bit greyscale GIF image, there are 256 different shades of grey. The changes between the colours are very gradual, making it harder to detect.







The art and science of detecting hidden data and

extracting the data. Steganalysis, the goal is to be able to compare the cover-object (cover message), the stego-object (the cover message with the hidden data embedded in it) in an effort to intercept, analyze and/or destroy the secret communication. Why is it important? Prevent Terrorist Attacks Catch people engaging in illegal activities Discourage Piracy

Passive steganalysis: simple detection or extraction of the message, stegodata doesnt change. Active steganalysis: manipulation of the data to destroy, remove or alter the hidden information. Two methods of Steganography: 1. Detecting messages on their transmission. 2. Disabling embedded information. These approaches vary depending upon the methods used to embed the information in to the cover media.

Detecting Hidden Information

Looking for Signatures: For detecting the existence of

hidden messages in stego-images is to look for obvious and repetitive patterns which may point to the signature of a steganography tool or hidden message.

Distortions or patterns visible to the human eye are the

easiest to detect.

An approach used to identify such patterns is to

compare the original cover-images with the stegoimages and note visible differences (known-cover attack).

Some of the tools, specifically those in the bit-wise set, produced severely distorted and noisy stegoimages. These distortions are severe color shifts that advertise the existence of a hidden message.

8-bit color and gray-scale images which have color palettes or indexes are easier to analyze visually. Detecting the existence of a hidden message is accomplished by creating an array of unique pixel values within the image. Then, sort by luminance calculated as follows: L = (0.299 x Red) + (0.587 x Green) + (0.114 x Blue)

S-Tools, which hides data

in the LSB planes of the GIF table. It cuts the colors down to 32 from 256 then uses the last 3 bit locations to hide the information. It can be detected by inspecting the palette and ordering the palette entries by luminance value: if like colors are in groups, be suspicious.

Using S-Tools (a) Palette of original 8 bit GIF Renoir before inserting Airfield, sorted by luminance. (b) Palette of 8 bit GIF of Renoir stego image after Airfield inserted, sorted by luminance.

A software algorithm called jsteg-jpeg leaves a signature on the

stegoimage It modifies coefficients in the DCT that are not either zero or one by changing that coefficients LSB. If one has the cover image and the stego image then one can compare the two coefficients, and they differ by either 0, 1 or -1. Also, by looking at the histogram of the stego image, one can see a stepping effect where the data is stored (see Information Hiding, Johnson et al, pg. 57). Automated techniques can be developed to detect these artifacts without looking at them with a human eye.

With this embedding method, you also have a good chance of determining message length, by looking at where the changes in the histogram stop. Jsteg-jpeg takes an image that is NOT in jpeg format, and converts it to jpeg. When it calculates the quantized DCT coefficient values, it overwrites the jpeg-calculated coefficient LSB value with the message value, in order of the message bit (no random order of embedding).

Disabling Steganography
Detecting the existence of hidden information defeats the

Steganographys goal of imperceptibility. With each method of hiding information there is a tradeoff between the sizes of the payload (amount of hidden information) that can be embedded and the survivability or robustness of that information to manipulation. For LSB methods of inserting data, simply using a lossy compression technique, such as JPEG, is enough to render the embedded message. Hidden information may also be overwritten. If information is added to some media such that the added information cannot be detected, then there exists some amount of additional information that may be added or removed within the same threshold which will overwrite or remove the embedded information.

Secure Communication. Digital Watermarking. Digital Signature Authentication. Digital Storage and Linkage.

Success in steganographic results from selecting the proper

mechanisms. However, a stegomedium which seems innocent enough may, upon further investigation, actually broadcast the existence of embedded information. Most data-hiding systems take advantage of human perceptual weaknesses, but have weaknesses of their own. It in no way can replace cryptography, but is intended to supplement it. Its application in watermarking for use in detection of unauthorized, illegally copied material. Formerly just an interest of the military, is now gaining popularity among the masses.