A detailed look at Steganographic Techniques and their use In an Open-Systems Environ
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19-02-2011, 12:39 PM
A detailed look at Steganographic Techniques and their use In an Open-Systems Environmen[/b[b]]t
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 will close by looking 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 accomplish this.
II. What is Steganography and why is it important?
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". In a digital world, Steganography and Cryptography are both intended to protect information from unwanted parties. Both Steganography and Cryptography are excellent means by which to accomplish this but neither technology alone is perfect and both can be broken. It is for this reason that most experts would suggest using both to add multiple layers of security. Steganography can be used in a large amount of data formats in the digital world of today. The most popular data formats used are .bmp, .doc, .gif, .jpeg, .mp3, .txt and .wav. Mainly because of their popularity on the Internet and the ease of use of the steganographic tools that use these data formats. These formats are also popular because of the relative ease by which redundant or noisy data can be removed from them and replaced with a hidden message. Steganographic technologies are a very important part of the future of Internet security and privacy on open systems such as the Internet. Steganographic research is primarily driven by the lack of strength in the cryptographic systems on their own and the desire to have complete secrecy in an open-systems environment. Many governments have created laws that either limit the strength of cryptosystems or prohibit them completely. This has been done primarily for fear by law enforcement not to be able to gain intelligence by wiretaps, etc. This unfortunately leaves the majority of the Internet community either with relatively weak and a lot of the times breakable encryption algorithms or none at all. Civil liberties advocates fight this with the argument that “these limitations are an assault on privacy”. This is where Steganography comes in. Steganography can be used to hide important data inside another file so that only the parties intended to get the message even knows a secret message exists. To add multiple layers of security and to help subside the "crypto versus law" problems previously mentioned, it is a good practice to use Cryptography and Steganography together. As mentioned earlier, neither Cryptography nor Steganography are considered "turnkey solutions" to open systems privacy, but using both technologies together can provide a very acceptable amount of privacy for anyone connecting to and communicating over these systems. E4 A169 4E46 Key finger=III. A Brief History of Steganography
The earliest recordings of Steganography were by the Greek historian Herodotus in his chronicles known as "Histories" and date back to around 440 BC. Herodotus recorded two stories of Steganographic techniques during this time in Greece. The first stated that King Darius of Susa shaved the head of one of his prisoners and wrote a secret message on his scalp. When the prisoner’s hair grew back, he was sent to the Kings son in law Aristogoras in Miletus undetected. The second story also came from Herodotus, which claims that a soldier named Demeratus needed to send a message to Sparta that Xerxes intended to invade Greece. Back then, the writing medium was text written on waxcovered tablets. Demeratus removed the wax from the tablet, wrote the secret message on the underlying wood, recovered the tablet with wax to make it appear as a blank tablet and finally sent the document without being detected. Romans used invisible inks, which were based on natural substances such as fruit juices and milk. This was accomplished by heating the hidden text, thus revealing its contents. Invisible inks have become much more advanced and are still in limited use today. During the 15th and 16th centuries, many writers including Johannes Trithemius (author of Steganographia) and Gaspari Schotti (author or Steganographica) wrote on Steganagraphic techniques such as coding techniques for text, invisible inks, and incorporating hidden messages in music. Between 1883 and 1907, further development can be attributed to the publications of Auguste Kerckhoff (author of Cryptographic Militaire) and Charles Briquet (author of Les Filigranes). These books were mostly about Cryptography, but both can be attributed to the foundation of some steganographic systems and more significantly to watermarking techniques. During the times of WWI and WWII, significant advances in Steganography took place. Concepts such as null ciphers (taking the 3rd letter from each word in a harmless message to create a hidden message, etc), image substitution and microdot (taking data such as pictures and reducing it to the size of a large period on a piece of paper) were introduced and embraced as great steganographic techniques. In the recent digital world of today, namely 1992 to present, Steganography is being used all over the world on computer systems. Many tools and technologies have been created that take advantage of old steganographic techniques such as null ciphers, coding in images, audio, video and microdot. With the research this topic is now getting we will see a lot of great applications for Steganography in the near future.
IV. A Detailed Look at Steganography
In this section we will discuss Steganography at length. We will start by looking at the different types of Steganography generally used in practice today along with some of the other principles that are used in Steganography. We will then look at some of the Steganographic techniques in use today. This is where we will look at the nuts and bolts of Steganography and all the different ways we can use this technology. We will then close by going over Steganalysis. Steganalysis concentrates on the art and science of finding and or destroying secret messages that have been produced using any of the various steganographic techniques we will cover in this paper. To start, lets look at what a theoretically perfect secret communication (Steganography) would consist of. To illustrate this concept, we will use three fictitious characters named Amy, Bret and Crystal. Amy wants to send a secret message (M) to Bret using a random ® harmless message to create a cover © which can be sent to Bret without raising suspicion. Amy then changes the cover message © to a stego-object (S) by embedding the secret message (M) into the cover message © by using a stego-key (K). Amy should then be able to send the stegoobject (S) to Bret without being detected by Crystal. Bret will then be able to read the secret message (M) because he knows the stego-key (K) used to embed it into the cover message ©. As Fabien A.P. Petitcolas  points out, "in a 'perfect' system, a normal cover should not be distinguishable from a stego-object, neither by a human nor by a computer looking for statistical patterns." In practice, however, this is not always the case. In order to embed secret data into a cover message, the cover must contain a sufficient amount of redundant data or noise. This is because the embedding process Steganography uses, actually replaces this redundant data with the secret message. This limits the types of data that we can use with Steganography. 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.
A. Encoding Secret Messages in Text
Encoding secret messages in text can be a very challenging task. This is because text files have a very small amount of redundant data to replace with a secret message. Another drawback is the ease of which text based Steganography can be altered by an unwanted parties by just changing the text itself or reformatting the text to some other form (from .TXT to .PDF, etc.). There are numerous methods by which to accomplish text based Steganography. I will introduce a few of the more popular encoding methods below. Line-shift encoding involves actually shifting each line of text vertically up or down by as little as 3 centimeters. Depending on whether the line was up or down from the stationary line would equate to a value that would or could be encoded into a secret message.
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