Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography


1. Abstract ……………………………………………………... 2 2. Introduction ………………………………………………… 2 3. Preliminary Approaches …………………………………… 4
3.1 Visual Cryptography 3.2 Image Steganography 3.3 Secret-ballot Receipts

4. Voting procedure …………………………………………… 8
4.1 Registration Stage 4.2 Authentication Stage 4.3 Voting System 4.4 Tallying Stage 4.5 Publishing and Vote Verification Stage

5. Implementation and Results ………………………………. 12 6. Conclusion ………………………………………………….. 17 7. References …………………………………………………... 18


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ABSTRACT As information technology evolves over time. two steganography techniques are considered and their performances are compared for different image file formats. more convenient and secure electronic voting is relevant since the traditional election procedures cannot satisfy all of voter‘s demands. BNMIT Page 2 . this approach is costly. • Verifiability – No one can falsify the result of the voting. the need for a better. Such systems have to be designed to satisfy the following requirements [1]–[7]: • Completeness – All valid votes are counted correctly. However. INTRODUCTION Voting has played a major role in the democratic societies. It thus helps to encourage each voter to make use of their right to vote. No one can indicate the tally before the votes are counted. As a preliminary investigation. • Eligibility – No one who is not allowed to vote can vote. This paper proposes a secure electronic voting system that provides enhanced security by implementing cryptography and steganography in Java. 2. • Soundness – The dishonest voter cannot disrupt the voting.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography 1. To increase the number of voters and to offer an enhanced procedure in an election. many researchers are proposing secure. inconvenient and time consuming for voters. DEPT OF ECE. • Privacy – All votes must be secret. With the evolution of computer technology. • Fairness – Nothing must affect the voting. Many people nowadays prefer a more instant way to vote. • Unreusability – No voter can vote twice. many researchers have been introducing novel and advanced approaches to secure electronic voting systems. faster. reliable and convenient electronic voting systems as a substitute to the traditional voting procedure. Traditional voting procedure uses paper-based ballot.

Yet on the other hand. In the recent years. the E2E system would still protect the voter‘s privacy.cryptography. homomorphic encryption. cryptography is used to protect the data transmitted between the voter and the server to ensure that it would not be leaked to a third party. • Uncoercibility – No voter should be able to convince any other participant of the value of its vote. in one session and with minimal equipment or special skills. receipt-freeness and also universal-verifiability. Therefore. BNMIT Page 3 . • Mobility – The voter can vote anytime and anywhere through internet. such as blind signature scheme. this receipt cannot be used as a proof in vote buying or vote coercion although all of the receipts will be posted publicly in a secured append-only Bulletin Board once the voter finished the voting process. many schemes have been implemented and proposed. There are many cryptography methods that can be applied. oblivious signature scheme. the originality of the ballot. bit commitment scheme. In electronic voting mechanism. In principle. Those schemes are mostly rooted in one particular field of security . the reliability of the tallied votes and the privacy throughout the election.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography • Robustness – The result reflects all submitted and well-formed ballots correctly. • Convenience – System must allow voters to cast their votes quickly. even if some voters and (or) possibly some of the entities running the election cheat. casted and collected votes. E2E voting system offer assurance to the voters as they cast their vote by distributing a receipt of their vote which can be used for verification purpose from the overall tabulation of the collected votes. • Receipt-freeness – Voters must neither obtain nor be able to construct a receipt proving the content of their vote. Cryptography theories are also applied in each process in the system to make sure the authenticity of the voter. researchers are more focusing on developing a new technology which can support uncoercibility. Many end-to-end verifiable systems (E2E) are proposed and being widely used. In order to accomplish the previously stated requirements. Schnorr identification DEPT OF ECE.

etc. In cryptography field. it is necessary to assume that the voter would complete the voting process secretly. There are five different stages in the system design architecture such as – registration stage. Those schemes are secret-ballot receipts theory. The implementation overview based on the proposed approaches is explained further in section 4. Secret-ballot receipts theorem introduced by David Chaum [8] is mainly a combination of cut and choose scheme together with a cryptography technique by Naor and Shamir [9]. The combined method is believed to be sufficient to provide a secure.a branch of information security technique that has not been commonly used in this field. reliable and convenient voting system. 3. steganography . tallying stage. However. secure multi-party computation. In section 2 the cryptographic preliminaries that would be applied are explained. visual cryptography offers less computational performance compare to the other cryptography schemes due to their complex cryptographic algorithms used to protect a secret. visual cryptography and threshold decryption cryptosystem.1 Visual Cryptography: This scheme was introduced by Naor and Shamir [9]. visual cryptography. voting stage. Right after the voter casted their votes. publishing and verification stage. authentication stage. the threshold decryption cryptosystem will be implemented. Both branches of information security are combined together in this paper to ensure the design of a secure electronic voting system by providing a double layer of data protection. These schemes would be implemented respectively and secret-ballot receipt scheme is going to be applied in the voting stage together with visual cryptography. cryptographic hash-function. PRELIMINARY APPROACHES 3. It encrypts DEPT OF ECE.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography scheme. The conclusion is in section 5. in this paper only a few selected schemes would be applied in different voting stages to preserve the main characteristics of an electronic voting system. In the tallying stage. Since the proposed tool is an electronic voting system. followed by the voting procedure description in section 3. including the experimental results on steganography. digital signature scheme. mixed-net schemes. BNMIT Page 4 . steganography would be used throughout the system processes for data communication purpose.

in a particular way and produces a set of shares as the result. It is introduced as a branch of information security based on the needs of providing an enhanced security technique of hiding secret information. steganography offers a less suspicious way of hiding a secret.Visual Cryptography is a method for protecting image-based secrets that has a computation-free decryption process [11]. Therefore. BNMIT Page 5 . etc. text. As the information technology evolves. for example pictures. Illustration on how visual cryptography works in electronic voting system is displayed in Fig. These shares need to be stacked altogether by using a visual cryptography tool to reveal the hidden secret [9]–[11]. An encrypted data could easily cause suspicion since it is clearly shown as one. Figure 1. low in computational cost and could still be done without any external devices needed. 1. more threats arise and a simple encryption method is just not sufficient enough to protect the secrecy of data anymore.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography visual information. Data flow diagram of how visual cryptography applied in the system It can be considered as a convenient and reliable tool for secret protection or even for verification (authentication) process because it is not time-consuming. steganography is proposed to be used as a main DEPT OF ECE. On the other hand. 3.2 Image Steganography: Steganography is the art of hiding information in ways that prevent the detection of hidden messages [12].

2 is the original image and Fig. audio. 2 and Fig. 3 has been encoded with random encrypted words. digital signatures. As a result. to spreadspectrum communications [12]. as its purpose is to maintain a secret communication between two parties. Thus. image steganography would be applied in this system together with secret-ballot receipts scheme and visual cryptography in the voting stage and also to be used throughout the system for data transmission process. One of the most used approaches in embedding information in image domain method is Least Significant Bit (LSB). Therefore. microdots. Fig. Image steganography can be separated into two types based on its compression method. give a better encoding technique to be used as it can securely hide the secret message. LSB is implemented with a similar characteristic to text 2011 IEEE Conference on Open Systems (ICOS2011). BNMIT Page 6 . For this reason. they are not completely feasible to be applied in the system. the input and output data (stego-object) of steganography would be identical. character arrangement. Unlike cryptography.28. a message would directly be embedded into a source image and then it would be compressed with lossy compression. It can be used together with few image file formats. such as BMP and GIF image file. video and protocol file format. Image steganography on the other hand. 2011. However some of the steganography schemes like text steganography are limited in data encoding. In general. it would be difficult to recognize and interpret the hidden secret in the stego-object. Langkawi. transform domain is more robust compare to image domain technique because it eliminates the possibility of message being destroyed during the compression process when the excess image data is removed (lossy compression). image (spatial) domain and transform (frequency) domain [13]. in transform domain. This scheme could be applied to various types of data such as text. The methods of steganography vary from invisible inks.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography tool in this paper to secure the data communication in the election procedure. images. It supports data transmission process by securely transferring a hidden secret in a digital image file. Malaysia 81 DEPT OF ECE. Fig. all the embedded information would not be altered in the compression phase. On the other hand. 3 shows the comparison of an original and stego-image with very unnoticeable difference. covert channels. For image domain. message would be embedded into an image in between the compression phases with both lossy and lossless compression. September 25 .

As a result. DEPT OF ECE. In transform domain technique. a message can be hidden in every nth character of a passage. the stegoimage would be more resistant to image manipulation. It is widely used in the Internet due to the small size of the image after the compression. JPEG steganography is commonly used in hiding a secret besides Patchwork and Spread Spectrum. spread spectrum ethod hides data by spreading it throughout the cover image without changing its statistical properties [13]. likewise in LSB the secret information would be embedded to the least significant bit (8th bit) or could also be in all of the bytes in an image [13].Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography steganography. Patchwork is a method that marks image areas or patches by using redundant pattern encoding to scatter hidden information throughout the cover image [12]. Similar to patchwork. such as rotation or cropping. In text steganography. Both methods are suitable to be applied in encoding a small amount of secretive information. BNMIT Page 7 . To encode and decode the hidden secret. LSB is suggested to be used for embedding in a large size image. a pair of key can be distributed to both sender and receiver as another layer of security. The algorithm adds redundancy to the hidden information and then scatters it throughout the image [13].

The final product of this process is a tally batch in the form of ballot image. instead of generating a printed receipt. In the voting process.3 Secret-ballot Receipts: The principle of secret-ballot receipt lays in the concept where privacy violation should not occur at all in the election. to ensure its integrity and also to prevent altered votes in the election process due to vote buying or selling and vote coercion [8]. the progress of an election is divided into a few different stages based on each of their role. where a secret – in this case. BNMIT Page 8 . VOTING PROCEDURE In a paper-based voting procedure. a vote that is hidden in two separated layer of pixel symbols. the voter‘s chosen layer would be passed respectively among few trustees who are going to generate intermediate batches based on voter‘s receipt batch as an input. audit and observation in several stages of the system as it does not require any external hardware to be applied as a compliment to its functionality. Chaum also proposed the conjunction of mix-net scheme in the secret-ballot receipt to ensure the integrity and privacy of the tallying process [8]. to minimize external hardware usage in the election process. However.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography 3. Likewise in an electronic voting procedure. The secret would only be revealed once those layers are overlaying one another. the system would then generate a digital receipt in an image format to each voter. Described below are the stages where the proposed approaches are to be implemented. Hence. researchers have implemented and presented their work in a few different stages as well. vote tabulation officers and the voters themselves. the processes would be time-consuming because different trustees (servers) are required to be included in the election procedure. a simple amendment made to the applied mix-net scheme would be introduced in this paper in order to fulfill the system‘s requirement by implementing threshold decryption scheme. it is also assumed that the system contains three main personnel types – election administrator(s). The technique provides a direct assurance of each voter‘s vote. The implementation of secret–ballot receipts scheme helps to reduce the need for physical security. It also applies the same concept as Naor and Shamir in visual cryptography [9]. 4. However. [14]. DEPT OF ECE. The initial flow of secret ballot receipts implementation requires each voter to use an external hardware (printer) in order to retrieve and verify their casted ballots in a printed receipt. Here.

Once the voter submits their vote. This ballot will later on be sent over to the tally server as a stego-image. 2011. To 2011 IEEE Conference on Open Systems (ICOS2011). 4. each of them would be prompted to insert few random characters of a secret word that would then be used as authorization key in the next stage. the sequence of the candidate list could be display randomly by using SecureRandom class from Sun‘s JCE package. Once the user has been identified as an eligible voter and successfully logged in to the system. stronger protection is required to convince the voters that a proper level of trust has been established between the voter and the system [16]. As another layer of security during login process.3 Voting System: In a paper-based voting. Malaysia 82 minimize the security attack. It is proposed as in a remote electronic voting system. the user is required to enter few random characters on their predefined authorization key as another layer of authentication. 4. In this phase all of the necessary constraints for the election are prepared. registered voters can authorize themselves by logging into the system.1 Registration Stage: This stage is also known as the preparation stage.2 Authentication Stage: In a remote electronic voting system. this stage is carried out by sending the voter‘s casted vote in an electronic ballot to the server where all the ballots would be collected and stored. Voter‘s registration would be carried out to respect the voters‘ right by ensuring only eligible voters can vote [15]. They would be identified by using their respective organization‘s email address. September 25 . it would then be encoded in the ballot by implementing steganography.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography 4. Similarly in the electronic voting system. Upon login. BNMIT Page 9 . they will see a welcome screen which states their account status and a menu panel where they can navigate to cast their vote.28. They would be prompted to enter their self-defined username and encrypted password for security purposes. Prior to vote transmission. Langkawi. this stage would be carried out by inserting the ballot into a securely sealed box. the vote is going to be ‗encrypted‘ with visual DEPT OF ECE.

while the other separated layer of the vote would be kept – or saved by the administrator for the purpose of vote‘s tally. BNMIT Page 10 . but once the shares are overlaid (combined) by using a visual cryptography tool.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography cryptography technique by splitting the vote before it is encoded in an image into few shares. the voter‘s vote would be revealed. Basically.4 Tallying Stage: In this stage. the private key which has been divided and distributed to a few appointed personnel must be merged together. In order to perform this decryption process. In this system the shares would be limited to two shares. Stand-alone share would not reveal any information to anybody. Figure 4. 4. the voters would still be able to verify their votes to themselves and have a better confidence in the system. each voter would be given one layer (share) of the image as their receipt. all of the collected ballots would be initially ‗decrypted‘ by using the other half of the vote share. The data flow during voting submission process in this stage is illustrated in Fig. Data flow diagram of voting submission process in Voting Stage 4. Therefore. This method DEPT OF ECE.

Threshold scheme would be implemented in the ballot decryption process to ensure that only the authorized personnel can count the vote. Therefore. 4. Other than that. the authorized personnel will announce the result of the election. universal-verifiability. once the tally process is done. the voter would not be able to verify their own vote because the authorized personnel will only announce and publish the total result of each candidate. On the other hand. The process is shown in Fig. etc. The votes would then be published for verification purpose. However. The feature is implemented by combining visual cryptography and secret ballot receipts together. the system would also be provided with a vote verification data to check their casted vote. BNMIT Page 11 . in remote electronic voting system the voters can verify their own votes because each voter receives a share of receipt that would be published in the secured append-only bulletin board. PKI is going to be applied before votes and can then be retrieved and counted by matching the other half of the shares and the voter‘s receipt. However. Figure 5. would be delivered as neither the user nor the election officials (administrator) has access to identify the collected ballots. 5. all of the votes are stored as cipher texts in the database. receiptfreeness.5 Publishing and Vote Verification Stage: In a paper-based voting. most of electronic voting system‘s requirements.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography is called the threshold decryption cryptosystem [17] – [19]. In this way. such as uncoercibility. Data flow diagram during verification process in Publishing and Vote Verification Stage DEPT OF ECE.

such as transform domain that applies lossy compression and image domain which implements lossless compression. As stated before. BMP. For that reason the implementation of image steganography cannot be combined in one single algorithm for both image domain (GIF.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography 5. F5 and Outguess are used for image comparison purpose. the compression image steganography has been divided into two categories. etc) and transform domain images (JPEG). PNG. As a result. 7 [20]. 6 and Fig. Both algorithms are explained further in Fig. IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS A preliminary implementation of steganography on some images is discussed below. in this experiment two different steganography tools. BNMIT Page 12 . DEPT OF ECE.

Each image is represented in three color channels. Green and Blue Toned images with 856 bytes text file as a secret message that would be encoded in 24 bit image depth. such as Grayscale. Green and Blue with the length of 8 bits for each channel. DEPT OF ECE. such as Red.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography The experiments were done for five types of images based on their coloration. BNMIT Page 13 . Colored. The results are shown in more detail in Table 1 and Table 2. also Red.

As a result. BNMIT Page 14 .Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography As shown in Table 1 and Table 2. they have larger amount of colors compared to the stego-images in PNG file format. It can be used as one of the aspects to ensure the security assurance of the system. DEPT OF ECE. However. Compared with the PNG file format. Another element that could be taken into consideration to compare both image file formats is their histogram level. the number of noise and the altered LSB pattern in the original image would be increased. each of the numbers of the stego-images is larger compare to its original image. This is because by embedding a message. the stego-image size and its resolutions (for PNG file format) would be enlarged. stego-images in JPEG file format produced a much lesser size image as their end result.

BNMIT Page 15 . it can be concluded that there are only slight changes in their histogram level after secret message is embedded. 8.Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography As observed from both original and stego-image histogram of colored images in JPEG and PNG format in Fig. Therefore. 10 and 11 above. 9. DEPT OF ECE. image steganography could be applied into this proposed electronic voting system with the implementation of JPEG file format as its cover image and stego-image file format. based on those previously described aspects.

Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography Figure 8. Original image histogram of the colored image (PNG) DEPT OF ECE. BNMIT Page 16 . Altered stego-image histogram of the colored image (JPEG) Figure 10. Original image histogram of the colored image (JPEG) Figure 9.

Secure Electronic Voting System Based on Image Steganography Figure 11. If it is designed properly. It is as important to their rights to verify that their vote has been counted correctly in the tally phase. BNMIT Page 17 . the system could actually provide a more secure system than the paper-based election by providing precise data communication and logging. It would ensure the reliability. the electronic voting system implementation could also help the election officials who administer the election to minimize the cost of the election itself. DEPT OF ECE. The proposed algorithm is based on a combination of cryptography and steganography techniques. prevention over threats and attacks by the intruders. CONCLUSION In conclusion. Other than that. in an electronic voting system life cycle. security. the protection of voter‘s personal information and vote is crucial. convenience while offering more efficient election process and it allows the voter to retrieve a receipt for their own verification purpose. Altered stego-image histogram of the colored image (PNG) 6.

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