Feeds

New steganography technique relies on letter shapes

Indian researchers say cunning scheme is secure, has good signal:noise ratio

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A trio of Indian researchers have proposed a method of steganography which hides messages in by using non-random distribution of letters with or without straight lines.

Steganography is a group of techniques for hiding messages in plain sight. Microdots, tiny text written inside a full stop and only legible when magnified, are one steganography technique. Steganography is hard to detect and decrypt, so much so that this paper from the US National Science and Technology Council (PDF) wrings its hands about it's potential use by terrorists.

The new method for steganography has been outlined by Shraddha Dulera and Devesh Jinwala, both from the Department of Computer Engineering at the S V National Institute of Technology in Surat, India, and Aroop Dasgupta of Gandhinagar ‘s Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics. The trio’s paper, Experimenting with the Novel Approaches in Text Steganography, suggests that the low signal-to-noise ratio required by many current steganography techniques makes for slow decipherment.

The trio’s alternative is a system based on the characteristics of letters in the Hindu-Arabic alphabet, which they group into those possessing straight lines and those possessing curved lines. Each group is assigned a value of either zero or one as the basis for a binary code.

One method for using this scheme is to “ … generate a random string that contains the single letters (from alphabet) as the cover text. Subsequently, whenever we want to hide a ‘0’ bit in the input text file, we use the letters from the group A amongst the letters generated; whereas whenever we wish to hide a ‘1’ bit, we use the letters from the group B amongst the letters generated.”

A second scheme sees curved or straight letters capitalised at the start of sentences, so that the sentence “All birds can fly. Ostrich is a bird. Ostrich can also fly” yields a binary value of 100.

The trio’s third scheme proposes to further divide the alphabet into letters with:

  • Curves;
  • A straight horizontal middle line;
  • One vertical straight line;
  • A diagonal line.

By doing so, it becomes possible to create a code in which capital letters can have a binary value of 0, 1, 10 or 11.

The trio assert that “Our analysis reveals that our approaches impart increased randomness and because of randomness, these approaches are noticeable but it cannot be decoded until a user is not aware about these approaches. In addition, the proposed approaches are also immune to retyping and reformatting of text.”

But they also warn that “… one of the weaknesses of the proposed approaches is that once their applicability is known, they can easily be attacked. Hence, it is essential to keep the application of a particular approach to a particular data set secret, while using them.”

Do you promise not to tell? ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.