Digital Image Watermarking Techniques

:
An Overview
Shivam Maurya, Mukul Salhotra
Department of Computer Science and Information
Technology
Jaypee University of Information Technology
Solan, India
Amit Kumar Singh
Department of Computer Science and Information
Technology
Jaypee University of Information Technology
Solan, India
amit.singh@juit.ac.in
Abstract- In this paper we are discussing different
methods that are currently being used in digital
watermarking field.
We would like to concentrate on image watermarking. We
will present various techniques that are used in domain
based watermarking and their advantages and
disadvantages.
Keywords- digital watermarking, LSB manipula-
tion, patchwork, DCT, DWT
I. INTRODUCTION Steganography is derived
from the Greek for covered
writing and essentially means “to hide in plain sight”.
As defined by Cachin [1] steganography is the art
and science of communicating in such a way that the
presence of a message cannot be detected.
In digital steganography, electronic communications
may include steganographic coding inside of a transport
layer, such as a document file, image file, program or
protocol. One of the major area of steganography is
copyright marking, where the message to be in-
serted is used to assert copyright over a document.
This can be further divided into watermarking
and fingerprinting. Digital watermarking is the act
of hiding a message related to a digital signal (i.e. an
image, song and video) within the signal itself. It is
a concept closely related to steganography, as
they both hide a message inside a digital signal.
However, what separates them is their goal.
Watermarking tries to hide a message related to the
actual content of the digital signal, while in
steganography the digital signal has no relation to the
message, and it is merely used as a cover to hide its
existence. Also, steganography typically relates to covert
Point-to-point communication between two parties.
Thus, steganographic methods are usually not robust
against modification of the data, or have only limited
robustness and protect the embedded information against
technical modifications that may occur during
transmission and storage, like format conversion,
compression, or digital-to-analog conversion.
Figure 1: Types of Steganography [2]
Watermarking, on the other hand, has the additional
notion of resilience against attempts to remove the hidden
data.
II. DIGITAL WATERMARKING
Watermarking is a technique used to hide data or
identifying information within digital image files. Digital
watermarking is becoming popular, especially for adding
undetectable identifying marks, such as author or
copyright information.
Watermarking has been around for several centuries, in
the form of watermarks found initially in plain paper and
subsequently in paper bills. However, the field of digital
watermarking was only developed during the last 15 years
and it is now being used for many different applications.
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III. PROPERTIES OF WATERMARKING SYSTEM
Every watermarking system has some very important
desirable properties. Some of these properties are often
conflicting and we are often forced to accept some trade-
offs between these properties depending on the
application of the watermarking system. There are four
essential factors those are commonly used to determine
quality of watermarking scheme. They are robustness,
imperceptibility, capacity, and blindness.
A. Robustness: Watermark should be difficult to
remove or destroy. Robust is a measure of
immunity of watermark against attempts
to
image modification and manipulation like
compression, media filtering, stir mark,
down scaling, SPIHT etc.[16][17]
B. Imperceptibility: means quality of host image
should not be destroyed by presence of
watermark.
C. Capacity: It includes techniques that make
it possible to embed majority of information.
D. Blind Watermarking: Extraction of watermark from
watermarked image without original image is preferred
because sometimes it’s impossible to avail original image.
General watermarking method needs to keep the three
factors (capacity, imperceptibility and robustness)
reasonably very high [3].
IV.CLASSIFICATION OF WATERMARKING
TECHNIQUES
Watermarking algorithms can be classified on several
criteria as given below:
A. According to domain of watermark insertion:
• Spatial Domain Watermarking Techniques
• Transform or Frequency Domain Techniques.
B. According to Watermark detection and extraction:
• Blind Watermarking
• Non-blind Watermarking.
The non-blind watermarking requires that original image
to exist for detection and extraction whereas blind
techniques do not require original image.
C. According to ability of watermark to resist
attack:
• Fragile Watermarking
• Semi-fragile Watermarking
D. According to Visibility:
• . Visible Watermarks
• No visible Watermarks
V. WATERMARKING TECHNIQUES
There are several ways in which we can model a
watermarking process as discussed above. Here we are
going to restrict our self to methods related to domain of
watermark insertion. Domain based watermarking
techniques are broadly divided into two Image or Spatial
domain and Transform or Frequency Domain.
A. Spatial Domain Watermarking Techniques
Spatial domain is also known as image domain techniques
embed messages in the intensity of the pixels directly.
Image domain techniques encompass bit-wise methods
that apply bit insertion and noise manipulation and are
sometimes characterized as “simple systems”[9].LSB
substitution, patchwork, and spread spectrum image
steganography are some of the important spatial domain
techniques [4,5].
i. Least Significant Bit Modification
This method is probably the easiest and straight forward
way of hiding information in an image and yet it is
surprisingly effective. It works by using the least
significant bits of each pixel in one image to hide the
most significant bits of another. So in a JPEG image for
example, the following steps would need to be taken
1. First load up both the host image and the image you
need to hide.
2. Next chose the number of bits you wish to hide the
secret image in. The more bits are used in the host image,
the more it deteriorates. Increasing the number of bits
used though obviously has a beneficial reaction on the
secret image increasing its clarity.
3. Now you have to create a new image by combining the
pixels from both images. If you decide for example, to use
4 bits to hide the secret image, there will be four bits left
for the host image. (PGM - one byte per pixel, JPEG - one
byte each for red, green, blue and one byte for alpha
channel in some image types)
Host Pixel: 10110001
Secret Pixel: 00111111
New Image Pixel: 10110011
4. To get the original image back you just need to know
how many bits were used to store the secret image. You
then scan through the host image, pick out the least
significant bits according the number used and then use
them to create a new image with one change - the bits
extracted now become the most significant bits.
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The advantage of LSB embedding is its simplicity and
many techniques use these methods [6]. LSB embedding
also allows high perceptual transparency. However, there
are many weaknesses when robustness, tamper resistance,
and other security issues are considered. LSB encoding is
extremely sensitive to any kind of filtering or
manipulation of the stego-image. Scaling, rotation,
cropping, addition of noise, or lossy compression to the
stego-image is very likely to destroy the message.
Furthermore an attacker can easily remove the message
by removing (zeroing) the entire LSB plane with very
little change in the perceptual quality of the modified
stego-image.
An improvement on basic LSB substitution would be to
use a pseudo-random number generator to determine the
pixels to be used for embedding based on a given “seed”
or key [7] also, block LSB schemes can used for colour
images in which one colour component of bit is chosen.
Also, to add robustness colour can be 'Blue' as it is less
sensitive to Human Visual System (HVS), manipulating
the value LSB of 'Blue'(B) value of each pixel of
individual tiles of host image. The 'Red' value and 'Green'
value of colour host image will remain unchanged [18].

Security of the watermark would be improved as the
watermark could no longer be easily viewed by
intermediate parties. The algorithm however would still
be vulnerable to replacing the LSB’s with a constant.
LSB modification proves to be a simple and fairly
powerful tool for stenography, however lacks the basic
robustness that watermarking applications require.
ii. Patchwork:
In this method algorithm chooses random pairs of pixel
sets and then modifies the pixel values of each set in
various ways. For example, a constant d is added to all
pixel values of one set, while d is subtracted from other
set values as long as the patchwork algorithm is additive.
In other words, it makes the bright pixels brighter and the
dark pixels darker. Then the sample means of each set are
changed accordingly or the location of the mean is shifted
according to the value d and its sign. Thus the location-
shift scheme stresses the fact of shifting sample means
due to the additive algorithm. Most patchwork algorithms
[8,9] up till now have been additive. The additive
patchwork algorithm detects watermarks by computing
differences between mean values of two sets and applying
a hypothesis test.
The multiplicative patchwork algorithm (MPA) changes
the sample variances by multiplying (1+d) or (1−d) by
pixel values. Accordingly, the sample variance value of
one set increases, and that of the other set decreases. In
other words, the multiplicative patchwork scheme scales
the variance values up or down. Similarly, the scale-shift
scheme stresses the fact of scaling sample variances due
to the multiplicative scheme. The ratio of the resulting
variances between two sets is a clue to detecting
embedded bit information. Cox et al. [10] first suggested
the multiplicative patchwork scheme.

The generalized patchwork algorithm (GPA) [19], which
is an extension of the modified patchwork algorithm
(MPA). The MPA embeds watermarks additively and
changes the mean of the pixels accordingly. In this
technique, we take multiplicative watermarks into
consideration where the GPA can change the variance of
pixels. The GPA combines both additive watermarks and
multiplicative watermarks. The embedding functions of
the GPA determine embedding parameters adaptively
according to the host signals. Detection functions also
determine thresholds adaptively. This algorithm allows us
to choose watermarking parameters adaptively according
to the host signal conditions. Content dependent
watermarking requires this feature, which is essential for
fighting a copy attack.
The patchwork algorithm has several features. Most
important, the algorithm itself is blind. From two sets we
can draw watermarking information even without a host
signal. With this in mind, we choose a pair of sets. It
hides information across small numbers of pixels for each
set to hide one bit. Thus, signal artefacts due to watermark
embedding are less noticeable since the algorithm
modifies a relatively small number of pixels. Patchwork is
the watermarking algorithm that uses statistical properties
of the embedding and detecting functions [8].However,
the detection rate of earlier algorithms was not very high.
Therefore, the original algorithm should have been
improved further. As mentioned above, the patchwork
itself is a good algorithm, but it had some inherent
drawbacks. The original patchwork algorithm was based
on the following assumptions:
• The number of pixels of each patch should be
sufficiently large, say, 1000 or more. Such a
large number was derived under the assumption
that pixel populations are uniformly distributed.
• All sample mean values or variances are the
same. These assumptions are not practical.
First, the number of pixels should be as small as possible
so as not to degrade the quality of the host signal. Second,
the actual values of sample means are not always the
same. The expected value of each set plays a critical role
in detecting watermarks. If the second assumption is
violated, a detection error occurs. Similarly, the sample
variances are not always the same.
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B. Transformation or frequency based watermarking
techniques
While the spatial domain techniques are having least
complexity and high payload they can not withstand low
pass filtering and common image processing attacks .The
widely accepted schemes for watermarking are in
transform domains i.e. DCT, DFT and DWT etc.
i. Discrete Cosine Transformation (DCT)
Another way of hiding data is by way of a discrete cosine
transformation (DCT). The DCT algorithm is one of the
main components of the JPEG compression technique
[11]. This works as follows [12], [13]:
1. First the image is split up into 8 x 8 squares.
2. Next each of these squares is transformed via a DCT,
which outputs a multidimensional array of 63 coefficients.
3. A quantizer rounds each of these coefficients, which
essentially is the compression stage as this is where data
is lost.
4. Small unimportant coefficients are rounded to 0 while
larger ones lose some of their precision.
5. At this stage you should have an array of streamlined
coefficients, which are further compressed via Huffman
encoding scheme or similar.
6. Decompression is done via an inverse DCT.
Figure 2. Definition of DCT Regions
FL is used to denote the lowest frequency components of
the block, while FH is used to denote the higher
frequency components. FM is chosen as the embedding
region as to provide additional resistance to lossy
compression techniques, while avoiding significant
modification of the cover image.
Hiding via a DCT is useful as someone who just looks at
the pixel values of the image would be unaware that
anything is amiss. Also the hidden data can be distributed
more evenly over the whole image in such a way as to
make it more robust. One technique hides data in the
quantizer stage [12]. If you wish to encode the bit value 0
in a specific 8 x 8 square of pixels, you can do this by
making sure all the coefficients are even, for example by
tweaking them. Bit value 1 can be stored by tweaking the
coefficients so that they are odd. In this way a large image
can store some data that is quite difficult to detect in
comparison to the LSB method. This is a very simple
method and while it works well in keeping down
distortions, it is vulnerable to noise. Also, exploring
properties of neighbouring pixel values in image can help
in removing correlation as adjacent pixels generally have
almost the same intensity value [21].
Other techniques, which use DCT transformations,
sometimes use different algorithms for storing the bit.
One uses pseudo noise to add a watermark to the DCT
coefficients while another uses an algorithm to encode
and extract a bit from them. These other techniques are
generally more complex and are more robust than the
technique described.
ii. Discrete Wavelet Transformation(DWT)
While DCT transformations help hide watermark
information or general data, they don’t do a great job at
higher compression levels. The blocky look of highly
compressed JPEG files is due to the 8 x 8 blocks used in
the transformation process. Wavelet transformations on
the other hand are far better at high compression levels
and thus increase the level of robustness of the
information that is hidden, something which is essential in
an area like watermarking [14]. Wavelet-based
watermarking has recently gained great attention due to
its ability to provide excellent multi-resolution analysis,
space-frequency localization and superior HVS modelling
[15].
The DWT separates an image into a lower resolution
approximation image (LL) as well as horizontal (HL),
vertical (LH) and diagonal (HH) detail components. The
process can then be repeated to computes multiple “scale”
wavelet decomposition, as in the 2-scale wavelet
transform shown below in Figure 3.
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Figure 3. A 2-Scale Discrete Wavelet Transform
This technique works by taking many wavelets to encode
a whole image. They allow images to be compressed such
that it stores the high frequency “detail” in the image
separately from the low frequency parts. The low
frequency areas can then be compressed which is
acceptable as they are most viable for compression.
Quantization can then take place to compress things
further and the whole process can start again if needed.
Instead of altering the DCT coefficients with pseudo
noise, instead the coefficients of the wavelets are altered
with the noise within tolerable levels. Embedding
information into wavelets is an ongoing research topic,
which still holds a lot of promise.
On comparing DCT and DWT using the PSNR at higher
threshold for different images DWT gives better image
quality than DCT [20]. Further the combination of DCT
and DWT techniques can be used to improve the PSNR
and it can also overcome the drawbacks of both methods
and strengthen the robustness.
VI. CONCLUSION
Every watermarking technique discussed has some very
important desirable properties. Some of these properties
are often conflicting and we are often forced to accept
some trade-offs between these properties depending on
the application of the watermarking system. But
considering the four essential factors those which are
commonly used to determine quality of watermarking
scheme that are robustness, imperceptibility, capacity, and
blindness wavelet transformation based technique
performs better than other techniques. The watermarking
techniques in which the watermark is embedded in
transform domains are typically better candidates for
watermarking than spatial, for both reasons of robustness
as well as visual impact. Embedding in the DCT domain
proved to be highly resistant to JPEG compression as well
as significant amounts of random noise.
Wavelet transformations works far better at high
compression levels and thus increase the level of
robustness of the information that is hidden, something
which is essential in an area like watermarking [14].
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