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Calling the Shots

Calling the Shots

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Published by Douglas Page
Digital photos can now be linked to the precise camera that took the picture. Smile.
Digital photos can now be linked to the precise camera that took the picture. Smile.

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Published by: Douglas Page on Jun 13, 2009
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07/02/2009

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Forensic Magazine® | Articles | Calling The Shots: New Technique Links Digital Images to Exact Camera
 
Calling The Shots: New Technique Links Digital Images to Exact Camera
 
Douglas Page 
 
February/March 2007 
 
Just as ballistic experts can trace bullet casings back to the gun that fired the shell, universityresearchers have devised a way to trace specific digital photographs back to the exact digitalcamera that took the photo.
Every original digital picture is overlaid by a weak noiselike pattern of pixel-to-pixel nonuniformity,according to Jessica Fridrich, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering atBinghamton University, State University of New York.Although these patterns are invisible to the human eye, the unique reference pattern or “fingerprint” ofany camera can be electronically extracted by analyzing a number of images taken by a singlecamera.“This technique can provide a proof that a given digital image came from a specific digital still or videocamera,” Fridrich said. Thus, whenever a digital image is associated with a crime – such as childpornography or movie piracy –investigators can now provide crucial evidence linking those images tospecific cameras. 
http://www.forensicmag.com/Article_Print.asp?pid=133 (1 of 3)6/12/2009 2:19:37 PM
 
Forensic Magazine® | Articles | Calling The Shots: New Technique Links Digital Images to Exact Camera
An example of the ‘noise’ researchers believe to be unique to each digital camera,allowing digital images to be linked to the precise camera that shot thephotograph. (Binghamton University photo.)
Fridrich said that means that as long as examiners have either the camera that took the image ormultiple images they know were taken by the same camera, an algorithm she developed can extractand define the camera’s unique pattern of pixel-to-pixel nonuniformity.“The defense in these kind of cases has often been that the images were not taken by this person’scamera or that the images are not of real children,” Fridrich said. Sometimes child pornographers willeven cut and paste an image of an adult’s head on the image of a child to try to avoid prosecution,she said.“But if it can be shown that the original images were taken by the person’s cell phone or camera, itbecomes a much stronger case than if you just have a bunch of digital images that we all know arenotoriously easy to manipulate.”Like actual fingerprints, the digital “noise” in original digital images is stochastic in nature – that is, itcontains random variables – which are inevitably created during the manufacturing process of thecamera and its sensors.
Binghamton electrical and computer engineering researcherJessica Fridrich has devised a technique able to trace specificdigital photographs back to the exact digital camera that tookthe photo, much the same as ballistics can trace bullets toguns that fired them. (Binghamton University photo.)
http://www.forensicmag.com/Article_Print.asp?pid=133 (2 of 3)6/12/2009 2:19:37 PM

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