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Cryptographic techniques "scramble" messages so if intercepted, the messages cannot be understood. Steganography, in an essence, "camouflages" a message to hide its existence and make it seem "invisible" thus concealing the fact that a message is being sent altogether. An encrypted message may draw suspicion while an invisible message will not. The word "Steganography" is of Greek origin and means "covered, or hidden writing. The advantage of stegnography is that those who are outside the party even do not realize that some sort of communication is being done.

Steganography can be viewed as akin to cryptography. Both have been used throughout recorded history as means to protect information. At times, these two technologies seem to converge while the objectives of the two differ.The advantage of unused bits within the structure of a file or those bits those are mostly not detectable if altered are used. If not identified as a steganographic message; there is no chance of any leakage of information. The message rides safely and secretly to its destination. The message can be decrypted only if it is identified. So it has an advantage over the encryption process.

This paper's focus is on a relatively new field of study in Information Technology known as Steganography. This paper will take an in-depth look at this technology by introducing the reader to various concepts of Steganography, a brief history of Steganography and a look at some of the Steganographic techniques available today. The paper is closely looked at how we can use Steganography in an open-systems environment such as the Internet, as well as some of the tools and resources available to help us to accomplish this. We conclude with the description of a design of model stegnography software, which hides small messages inside an image.

Steganography or Stego as it is often referred to in the IT community, literally means, "covered writing" which is derived from the Greek language. Steganography is defined by Markus Kahn as follows, "Steganography is the art and science of communicating in a way which hides the existence of the communication. In contrast to Cryptography, where the enemy is allowed to detect, intercept and modify messages without being able to violate certain security premises guaranteed by a cryptosystem, the goal of Steganography is to hide messages inside other harmless messages in a way that does not allow any enemy to even detect that there is a second message present". Steganography hides the covert message but not the fact that two parties are communicating with each other. The steganography process generally involves placing a hidden message in some transport medium, called the carrier. The secret message is embedded in the carrier to form the steganography medium. The use of a steganography key may be employed for encryption of the hidden message and/or for randomization in the steganography scheme. In a short way Stegnography_medium = hidden_message + stagnography_key + carrier In this context, the cover_medium is the file in which we will hide the hidden_data, which may also be encrypted using the stego_key. The resultant file is the stego_medium (which will, of course. be the same type of file as the cover_medium). The cover_medium (and, thus, the stego_medium) are typically image or audio files.

Steganography has been widely used in historical times, especially before cryptographic systems were developed. Examples of historical usage include:

Hidden messages in wax tablets: in ancient Greece, people wrote messages on the wood, then covered it with wax so that it looked like an ordinary, unused tablet. Hidden messages on messenger's body: also in ancient Greece. Herodotus tells the story of a message tattooed on a slave's shaved head, hidden by the growth of his hair, and exposed by shaving his head again. The message allegedly carried a warning to Greece about Persian invasion plans.

Hidden messages on paper written in secret inks under other messages or on the blank parts of other messages. During and after World War II, espionage agents used photographically produced microdots to send information back and forth..


The above figure shows a common taxonomy of steganographic techniques

Technical steganography uses scientific methods to hide a message, such as the use of invisible ink or microdots and other size-reduction methods. Linguistic steganography hides the message in the carrier in some nonobvious ways and is further categorized as semagrams or open codes. Semagrams hide information by the use of symbols or signs. A visual semagram uses innocent-looking or everyday physical objects to convey a message, such as doodles or the positioning of items on a desk or Website. A text semagram hides a message by modifying the appearance of the carrier text, such as subtle changes in font size or type, adding extra spaces, or different flourishes in letters or handwritten text.

Open codes hide a message in a legitimate carrier message in ways that are not obvious to an unsuspecting observer. The carrier message is sometimes called the overt communication whereas the hidden message is the covert communication. This category is subdivided into jargon codes and covered ciphers.

Jargon code, as the name suggests, uses language that is understood by a group of people but is meaningless to others. Jargon codes include war chalking (symbols used to indicate the presence and type of wireless network signal [War chalking 2003]), underground terminology, or an innocent conversation that conveys special meaning because of facts known only to the speakers. A subset of jargon codes is cue codes, where certain prearranged phrases convey meaning.

Covered or concealment ciphers hide a message openly in the carrier medium so that it can be recovered by anyone who knows the secret for how it was concealed. A grille cipher employs a template that is used to cover the carrier message. The words that appear in the openings of the template are the hidden message. A null cipher hides the message according to some prearranged set of rules, such as "read every fifth word" or "look at the third character in every word." As an increasing amount of data is stored on computers and transmitted over networks, it

is not surprising that steganography has entered the digital age. On computers and networks, steganography applications allow for someone to hide any type of binary file in any other binary file, although image and audio files are today's most common carriers.

Information can be hidden many different ways in images. To hide information, straight message insertion may encode every bit of information in the image or selectively embed the message in noisy areas that draw less attentionthose areas where there is a great deal of natural color variation. The message may also be scattered randomly throughout the image. Redundant pattern encoding wallpapers the cover image with the message. A number of ways exist to hide information in digital images.

Common approaches include Least significant bit insertion, Masking and Filtering, and Algorithms and Transformations. Each of these techniques can be applied, with varying degrees of success, to different image files. Least significant bit encoding Least significant bit (LSB) insertion4 is a common, simple approach to embedding information in a cover file. Unfortunately, it is vulnerable to even a slight image manipulation. Converting an image from a format like GIF or BMP, which reconstructs the original message exactly (lossless compression) to a JPEG, which does not (lossy compression), and then back could destroy the information hidden in the LSBs. To hide an image in the LSBs of each byte of a 24-bit image, you can store 3 bits in each pixel. A 1,024 768 image has the potential to hide a total of 2,359,296 bits (294,912 bytes) of information. If you compress the message to be hidden before you embed it, you can hide a large amount of information. To the human eye, the resulting stego-image will look identical to the cover image. For example, the letter A can be hidden in three pixels (assuming no compression). The original raster data for 3 pixels (9 bytes) may be (00100111 11101001 11001000) (00100111 11001000 11101001) (11001000 00100111 11101001) The binary value for A is 10000011. Inserting the binary value for A in the three pixels would result in (00100111 11101000 11001000) (00100110 11001000 11101000) (11001000 00100111 11101001) The underlined bits are the only three actually changed in the 8 bytes used. On average, LSB requires that only half the bits in an image be changed. You can hide data in the least and second least significant bits and still the human eye would not be able to discern it.

Masking and filtering Masking and filtering techniques, usually restricted to 24-bit and gray-scale images, hide information by marking an image, in a manner similar to paper watermarks. Watermarking techniques may be applied without fear of image destruction due to lossy compression because they are more integrated into the image. Visible watermarks are not steganography by definition. The difference is primarily one of intent. Traditional steganography conceals information; watermarks extend information and become an attribute of the cover image. Digital watermarks may include such information as copyright, ownership, or license. In steganography, the object of communication is the hidden message. In digital water- marks, the object of communication is the cover. To create the watermarked image in we increased the luminance of the masked area by 15 percent. If we were to change the luminance by a smaller percentage, the mask would be undetected by the human eye. Now we can use the watermarked image to hide plaintext or encoded information. Masking is more robust than LSB insertion with respect to compression, cropping, and some image processing. Masking techniques embed information in significant areas so that the hidden message is more integral to the cover image than just hiding it in the noise level. This makes it more suitable than LSB with, for instance, lossy JPEG images. Algorithms and transformations. LSB manipulation is a quick and easy way to hide information but is vulnerable to small changes resulting from image processing or lossy compression. Such compression is a key advantage that JPEG images have over other formats. High color quality images can be stored in relatively small files using JPEG compression methods; thus, JPEG images are coming more abundant on the Internet. One steganography tool that integrates the compression algorithm for hiding information is Jpeg- Jsteg. Jpeg-Jsteg creates a JPEG stego-image from the input of a message to be hidden and a lossless cover image. According to the Independent JPEG Group, the JPEG software we tested has been modified for 1- bit steganography in JFIF output files, which are composed of lossy and nonlossy sections. The software combines the message and the cover images using the JPEG algorithm to create lossy JPEG stego-images.

JPEG images use the discrete cosine transform to achieve compression. DCT is a lossy compression transform because the cosine values cannot be calculated exactly, and repeated calculations using limited precision numbers introduce rounding errors into the final result. Variances between original data values and restored data values depend on the method used to calculate DCT. In addition to DCT, images can be processed with fast Fourier transformation and wavelet transformation. Other image properties such as luminance can also be manipulated. Patchwork and similar techniques use redundant pattern encoding or spread spectrum methods to scatter hidden information throughout the cover images (patchwork is a method that marks image areas, or patches). These approaches may help protect against image processing such as cropping and rotating, and they hide information more thoroughly than by simple masking. They also support image manipulation more readily than tools that rely on LSB. Encoding Secret Messages in Audio Encoding secret messages in audio is the most challenging technique to use whendealing with Steganography. This is because the human auditory system (HAS) has such a dynamic range that it can listen over. To put this in perspective, the (HAS) perceives over a range of power greater than one million to one and a range of frequencies greater than one thousand to one making it extremely hard to add or remove data from the original data structure. The only weakness in the (HAS) comes at trying to differentiate sounds (loud sounds drown out quiet sounds) and this is what must be exploited to encode secret messages in audio without being detected. There are two concepts to consider before choosing an encoding technique for audio. They are the digital format of the audio and the transmission medium of the audio. There are three main digital audio formats typically in use. They are Sample Quantization, Temporal Sampling Rate and Perceptual Sampling. Sample Quantization is a 16-bit linear, sampling architecture used by popular audio formats such as (.WAV and. AIFF). Temporal Sampling Rate uses selectable frequencies (in the KHz) to sample the audio. Generally, the higher the sampling rate is, the higher the usable data space gets. The last audio format is Perceptual Sampling. This format changes the statistics of the audio drastically by encoding only the parts the listener perceives, thus maintaining the sound but changing the signal. This format is used by the most popular digital audio on the Internet today in ISO MPEG (MP3).

Transmission medium (path the audio takes from sender to receiver) must also be considered when encoding secret messages in audio. W. Bender introduces four possible transmission mediums: 1) Digital end to end - from machine to machine without modification. 2) Increased/decreased re sampling - the sample rate is modified but remains digital. 3) Analog and re sampled - signal is changed to analog and re sampled at a different rate. 4) Over the air - signal is transmitted into radio frequencies and re sampled from a microphone. The more popular encoding methods for hiding data inside of audio. They are low-bit encoding, phase-coding and spread spectrum. Low-bit encoding embeds secret data into the least significant bit (LSB) of the audio file. The channel capacity is 1KB per second per kilohertz (44 kbps for a 44 KHz sampled sequence). This method is easy to incorporate but is very susceptible to data loss due to channel noise and re sampling. Phase coding substitutes the phase of an initial audio segment with a reference phase that represents the hidden data. This can be thought of, as sort of an encryption for the audio signal by using what is known as Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT), which is nothing more than a transformation algorithm for the audio signal. Spread spectrum encodes the audio over almost the entire frequency spectrum. It then transmits the audio over different frequencies, which will vary depending on what spread spectrum method is used. Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) is one such method that spreads the signal by multiplying the source signal by some pseudo random sequence known as a (CHIP). The sampling rate is then used as the chip rate for the audio signal communication. Spread spectrum encoding techniques are the most secure means by which to send hidden messages in audio, but it can introduce random noise to the audio thus creating the chance of data loss.

Steganographic protocols
In practice, there are basically three types of steganographic protocols used. They are Pure Steganography, Secret Key Steganography and Public Key Steganography. Pure Steganography is defined as a steganographic system that does not require the exchange of a cipher such as a stego-key. This method of Steganography is the least secure means by which to communicate secretly because the sender and receiver can rely only upon the presumption that no other parties are aware of this secret message. Using open systems such as the Internet, we know this is not the case at all. Secret Key Steganography is defined as a steganographic system that requires the exchange of a secret key (stego-key) prior to communication. Secret Key Steganography takes a cover message and embeds the secret message inside of it by using a secret key (stego-key). Only the parties who know the secret key can reverse the process and read the secret message. Unlike Pure Steganography where a perceived invisible communication channel is present, Secret Key Steganography exchanges a stego-key, which makes it more susceptible to interception. The benefit to Secret Key Steganography is even if it is intercepted; only parties who know the secret key can extract the secret message. Public Key Steganography takes the concepts from Public Key Cryptography as explained below. Public Key Steganography is defined as a steganographic system that uses a public key and a private key to secure the communication between the parties wanting to communicate secretly. The sender will use the public key during the encoding process and only the private key, which has a direct mathematical relationship with the public key, can decipher the secret message. Public Key Steganography provides a more robust way of implementing a steganographic system because it can utilize a much more robust and researched technology in Public Key Cryptography. It also has multiple levels of security in that unwanted parties must first suspect the use of steganography and then they would have to find a way to crack the algorithm used by the public key system before they could intercept the secret message.

Steganalysis is the art and science of stopping or detecting the use of all steganographic techniques mentioned earlier. In 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) and any possible portions of the stego-key (encryption method) in an effort to intercept, analyze and/or destroy the secret communication. Most steganalysis today is signature-based, similar to antivirus and intrusion detection systems. Anomaly-based steganalysis systems are just beginning to emerge. Although the former systems are accurate and robust, the latter will be more flexible and better able to quickly respond to new steganography techniques. One form of so-called "blind steganography detection" distinguishes between clean and steganography images using statistics based on wavelet decomposition, or the examination of space, orientation, and scale across subsets of the larger image. There are six general protocols used to attack the use of Steganography. 1) Stego only attack - only the stego object is available for analysis. 2) Known cover attack - the original cover object and the stego object are available for analysis. 3) Known message attack - the hidden message is available to compare with the stego-object. 4) Chosen stego attack - the stego tool (algorithm) and stego-object are available for analysis. 5) Chosen message attack - takes a chosen message and generates a stego object for future analysis. 6) Known stego attack - the stego tool (algorithm), the cover message and the stego-objects are available for analysis.

Applications of Steganography in an Open Systems Environment

The three most popular and researched uses for steganography in an open systems environment are Covert channels, Embedded data and Digital watermarking.

Covert channels in TCP/IP involve masking identification information in the TCP/IP headers to hide the true identity of one or more systems. This can be very useful for any secure communications needs over open systems such as the Internet when absolute secrecy is needed for an entire communication process and not just one document as mentioned next. Using containers (cover messages) to embed secret messages into is by far the most popular use of Steganography today. This method of Steganography is very useful when a party must send a top secret, private or highly sensitive document over an open systems environment such as the Internet. By embedding the hidden data into the cover message and sending it, you can gain a sense of security by the fact that no one knows you have sent more than a harmless message other than the intended recipients. Although not a pure steganographic technique, digital watermarking is very common in today's world and does use Steganographic techniques to embed information into documents. Digital watermarking is usually used for copy write reasons by companies or entities that wish to protect their property by either embedding their trademark into their property or by concealing serial numbers/license information in software, etc. Digital watermarking is very important in the detection and prosecution of software pirates/digital thieves. Some modern printers, including HP and Xerox brand color laser printers, also use Steganography. Tiny yellow dots are added to each page. The dots are barely visible and contain encoded printer serial numbers, as well as date and time stamps.


The field of stegnography is still in early stage. There are lot of possibilities for the experiments and researches to be done in this field. This model is designed by keeping the fact in mind that after receiving the stego-image at the other end of the person may separate the image for getting the hidden data. It only hides a simple message behind the image and it has been to model a stegnography software. Even some security technique can also be applied on application layer to further increase the security. This software has in-built password security to protect the unauthorized use of the software.

Steganography has its place in security. It is not intended to replace cryptography but supplement it. Hiding a message with steganography methods reduces the chance of a message being detected. However, if that message is also encrypted, if discovered, it must also be cracked. There are an infinite number of steganography applications. This paper explores a tiny fraction of the art of steganography. It goes well beyond simply embedding text in an image. There are many good reasons as well to use this type of data hiding, including watermarking or a more secure central storage method for such things as passwords or key processes. This technology is easy to use and difficult to detect. the more you know about its features and functionality, the more ahead you will be in the game.