Digital Detective Hunts Hidden Messages
University of Delaware graduate students are working to develop steganalysis methods that can uncover hidden messages in digital images, hoping to foil possible terrorist communications. Steganography is the practice of hidden messages, and steganalysis is discovering those messages through investigation.
University of Delaware electrical and computer engineering professor Charles Boncelet is leading a team of graduate students in creating algorithms that can detect subtle abnormalities in images, indicating added data; the techniques developed for digital image steganalysis will later be applied to video and audio, he says. Eventually, the team plans to create automated scanners that can quickly analyze large amounts of multimedia for steganographic messages.
Modern computer-based steganography places secret messages within normal-looking files so that people who know where to look and have the key can extract the message.
The National Science Foundation is funding the University of Delaware research for one year, including training in intelligence techniques for students.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is also collaborating, as Boncelet says steganography is a major concern for governments because it could allow terrorist organizations to broadcast orders or other communications. Boncelet says, "When you hide a message in a digital image, you change the image a little bit. If you change the image too much, it gives it away."
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the UDaily (University of Delaware) (01/28/05); Thomas, Neil .