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30

Degradation of Stego-image

Mahwish Bano, Tasneem M. Shah, and Shaheryar Malik

with minimum change in its appearance has been a major concern

in image-based steganography techniques. In this paper, we present

a strategy of attaining maximum embedding capacity in an image in

a way that maximum possible neighboring pixels are analyzed for

their frequencies, to determine the amount of information to be

added in each pixel. The technique provides a seamless insertion of

data into the carrier image and reduces the error assessment and

artifacts insertion required to a minimal. We

justify our

approach with the help of an experimental evaluation on a

prototypic implementation of the proposed model.

Security and Cryptography

I. INTRODUCTION

TEGANOGRAPHY is an art of transferring message in a

way that the existence of message is concealed.

Steganography can utilize various medium as carriers of

the message. These mediums may include the classical

methods of steganography using text, like character marking,

invisible ink, using pin pictures, type-writer correction),

images, and audio, video signals. Most of the steganography

techniques use images a stego-medium. Information can be

hidden in images through many different ways. The most

common approaches to information hiding in images are:

Least significant bit (LSB) insertion [5], Masking and filtering

techniques [3], Algorithms and transformations [3].

Masking and filtering techniques hide information by

marking an image in a manner similar to paper watermarks

[2]. Because watermarking techniques are more integrated

into the image, they may be applied without fear of image

destruction from lossy compression.

The least significant bit insertion (LSB) is the most widely

used image steganography technique [2]. It embeds message

in the least-significant bits of each pixel. In order to increase

the embedding capacity, two or more bits in each pixel can be

.

T.M. Shah,Professor/Chair Department of Mathematics, Air

University,Islamabad,Pakistan(email:dr.tasneem@mail.au.edu.pk )

Mahwish Bano, Assistant professor, Air University, Islamabad,

Pakistan (email: mahwish@mail.au.edu.pk)

S. Malik, Assistant professor,Air University,Islamabad,

Pakistan(email:malikshary@yahoo.com)

and image degradation [8]. The LSB techniques might use a

fixed least significant bit insertion scheme, in which the bits of

data added in each pixel remains constant, or a variable least

significant bit insertion, in which the number of bits added in

each pixel vary on the surrounding pixels, to avoid degrading

the image fidelity

In this paper we discuss the embedding of text into image

through variable size least significant bit insertion. The

process of insertion of text in our proposed approach is not

sequential, rather it follows a random order, based on a

random algorithm. The technique proposed aims at providing

not only maximum insertion capacity, but also performs a

maximum analysis of surrounding pixels to determine the

embedding capacity of each pixel. The process results in a

stego-image which is very much similar in appearance to the

original image.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section II

discusses the proposed steganography model and its different

stages, Section III presents an experimental evaluation of the

proposed steganography model, and Section IV discusses the

conclusion and future work.

II. PROPOSED STEGANOGRAPHY MODEL

In this section, we propose a steganography model that

ensures maximum embedding of information in both gray

scalale and colored images, and also ensures that maximum

pixels are analyzed to determine the embedding capacity. This

would lead to a reduction of the overall error induction in the

image. The stego-image obtained after application of this

analysis would not only have maximum amount of

information, but would also have the minimum difference in

appearance with the original image.

Fig 1 shows a block diagram of the proposed steganography

model. The approach used in the model requires a

random/pseudo-random number generation algorithm, and a

transposition algorithm. For simplicity, we use one of the

simplest algorithms for random number generation to explain

our model. In practice the model can utilize any of the other

well-accepted random generation algorithms [4][10],

depending on the nature of the message and security

requirements.

Discussion of different steps involved in model is:

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31

shall be followed at the senders end:

A. Encryption of the plain text

The plain text obtained can be optionally encrypted to

provide additional amount of security in the process. The

model does not propose any restriction on the type of

encryption technique utilized. Any of the symmetric or

asymmetric key ciphers can be applied. For public key based

ciphers we can utilize the ECC or RSA, while the block

ciphers that can be applied may include the DES cipher or the

RC-5. The decision of the type of cipher to be used is purely

the user-based decision, and he/she may or may not even

apply any encryption procedure.

B. Binary Conversion

In this step, the alphabetic plain text is converted into its

corresponding binary string. The conversion depends on the

standard being followed at the user end.

C. Transposition

In this step, the binary text obtained from the previous step

the binary key, so that the transformation would remove the

occurrence of text characters in a sequence. Any of the

standard transposition techniques can be applied to transpose

the data. [6], [7], [9].

D. Random Location Marking

This step requires the carrier image, the transposed binary

permutation combinations, as input. Based on the carrier

image the seed is calculated, so as to produce random distinct

combinations of locations in the image. Every pixel

corresponding to the random location is marked. The

algorithm for generation is shown in Fig. 2. The function

RANDOM generates a pseudo-random value based on a seed.

The algorithm takes care that for each pixel location (x, y), not

more than four neighboring pixels are marked. If the

RANDOM function generates such a number, then the

number would be discarded and next random would be

generated. Any standard pseudo-random number generation

function can be used in place of the RANDOM function. One

of the functions to generate the random numbers is shown

below:

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32

length of image.

Capacity of the image.

Description: image_startX and image_startY are the starting location of the carrier image, image_endX and image_endY are the

ending locations of the carrier image, randomFunctionSeed is the seed given as input to the RANDOM function, binaryText is the

text that has to be inserted in the image; binary.getLength():integer returns the length binary string, initializeRANDOM function

initializes the RANDOM function with a seed, the maximum length and the maximum number that can be generated by the

algorithm, nextRANDOM():integer returns the next random number generated by RANDOM, MOD(a,b) returns the modulus of a

and b, DIV(a,b) returns the divisor of a and b, Locations.add(integer, integer) adds the coordinates passed into the Locations,

Locations is the class storing the random marked locations (x, y coordinates of the image)

MarkRandom (integer image_startX, integer image_startY, integer image_endX, integer imageEndY, integer randomFunctionSeed,

binary binaryText): Locations

1. {

2. Locations randomMarkedLocations

3. binTextLength = binaryText. getLength()

4. initializeRANDOM(randomFunctionSeed, binaryTextLength, image_endX image_startX * image_endY image_startY, )

5. integer ranNum = nextRANDOM()

6. image_startX + newX = MOD(ranNum, image_endX image_startX)

7. image_startY + newY = DIV(ranNum, image_endX image_startX)

8 randomMarkedLocations.add(newX, newY)

9. return randomMarkedLocations

10. }

Fig. 2 Algorithm for Random Location Marking

Error assessment in the proposed model would vary and

would be dependent on the number of neighboring pixels that

are being analyzed for each marked pixel. Greater the number

neighboring pixels being analyzed smaller would be the

amount of error induction.

The embedding process determines the embedding capacity

of each pixel from the neighboring pixels and inserts the

transposed binary in to the image. The text is inserted in the

image in each marked pixel in a sequential order. We could

have opted for a random insertion, but the sequential insertion

allows us to have a run-time analysis of variable embedding

capacity of each marked pixel and would also remove the

check of having at least four unmarked bits in neighbors of

each marked pixel, thus increasing the overall insertion

Fig. 3. According to sequential insertion algorithm, the first

pixel marked is picked. All unmarked neighboring pixels are

analyzed, which would also include the four preceding pixels

that have already been analyzed. The four preceding pixels are

highlighted in Fig. 4. The analysis process used is similar to

the process followed in [1], but the variation is that the authors

of one restricted their frequency analysis to only the four

preceding pixels, but our model allows a possibility of

analysis of all unmarked neighboring pixels.

For Gray Scale 8-bit images following process is followed.

Compute the intensity f(x,y) at pixel position x,y to

calculate the embedding capacity E(x,y). Then compute the

maximum [Max(x,y)] and minimum [Min{x,y)] from the

upper and left neighboring pixels of x,y location pixel, and all

{

1.

2.

integer cur_x = carrierImage.getStartX()

3.

integer cur_y = carrierImage.getStartY()

4. Do

(isMarked(pixel(cur_x, cur_y))

5. if

6.

pixels[] neighboringPixels = getUnmarkedNeighboringPixels(pixel(cur_x,cur_y))

7.

capacity = analyzeFrequency(neighboringPixels)

8.

insertData(data, capacity, carrierImage)

9.

data=data-capacity

10. else

if(cur_y < carrierImage.getEndY())

11.

12.

increment cur_y

13.

else

14.

increment cur_x

15.

While (cur_x <= carrierImage.getEndX() and cur_y < carrierImage.getEndY()

16.

return carrierImage

Fig. 3 Algorithm for Sequential Embedding of Data

IJENS

available unmarked neighboring pixels . Max(x,y) = Max {

f(x-1,y-1), f(x-1,y), f(x-1,y+1) ,f(x,y-1), f(x, y+1), f(x+1, y-1),

f(x+1, y), f(x+1, y+1)} and Min(x,y) = Min { f(x-1,y-1), f(x1,y), f(x-1,y+1), f(x,y-1),

f(x,y+1), f(x+1,y-1), f(x+1,y),

f(x+1,y+1)}. Now compute the difference [Diff(x,y)] between

maximum [Max(x,y)] and minimum [Min(x,y)].

(x-1,y-1)

(x-1,y)

(x-1,y+1)

(x,y-1)

(x,y)

(x,y+1)

(x+1,y-1)

(x+1,y)

(x+1,y+1)

highlighted)

shown in [1]. Due to the inclusion of pixels, other than the

four preceding pixel in the capacity assessment allows us to

have more precise judgment of embedding capacity and

minimizes the error assessment required in the proposed

methodology.

After the embedding process is complete, the stego-image is

transferred to the receiver, who then obtains the plain text

using the procedure shown in Fig. 1.

Following we will explain the procedure followed at the

receiver end.

A. Random Location Marking

In this step the random location in the stego-image are

marked using the same algorithm and the same seed used at

the senders end. This step would result in the marking of

locations that actually include the binary text.

B. Extraction

In the extraction step, same procedure is followed as in the

embedding step. The embedding capacity of each marked

pixel is obtained using the same algorithm as at the senders

side (Fig. 3). After the embedding capacity of each marked

pixel is obtained, sequential retrieval of data from pixels is

performed. The binary text obtained is transposed originally,

so the process of inverse transposition should be performed on

it before the actual retrieval of alphabetic text.

C. Inverse Transposition

In this step the binary text is passed through an inverse

transposition sequence, using the same permutation and key as

done at the senders end.

D. Alphabetic Conversion

In this step, the binary string obtained is converted to the

conversion to binary and vice versa. We have applied a

33

mutually agreed between the sender and the receiver.

E. Decryption

This step is optional and is performed only if an encryption

process was conducted at the senders end. The decryption

process is the inverse of the encryption process performed and

reveals the original plain text message.

III. EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATION USING PROTOTYPE

For the proof of concept of our proposed approach we have

developed a prototype tool. The tool developed takes a key

and plain text as input. Based on the key it is determined

whether the plain text is to be encrypted or not. The key also

determines the type of encryption that is to be performed.

Currently the tool supports the DES and RSA as encryption

techniques. We have used the ASCII standard for alphabet

classical transposition technique for transposition process. The

binary text provided as input is converted into blocks of size

equivalent to the key. The blocks are placed in rows, and the

column positions are transposed based on the key. We have

used this simplistic approach due to ease of development and

ease of understanding. Any complex transposition technique is

compatible with our model and can be developed for the tool.

The random allocation marking and embedding procedure is

an implementation of the algorithms discussed above.

Following we present an experiment conducted with the

developed prototype tool. The developed tool was developed

in JAVA using the Java Advance Imaging API. The tool is

independent of the platform because of the language used to

develop it. Fig. 5 shows four different experiments conducted

on same image. Fig. 5a shows the original image on which the

experiment was conducted. Fig 5b is a stego image obtained

by 4-LSB insertions . Fig 5c shows the image obtained after

performing the steganography proposed by Lee method [2].

Fig 5d is obtained from the experiment conducted in [1]. Fig.

5e shows the image obtained by applying steganography using

the proposed methodology. Image obtained by the proposed

model is very much similar to the original and is closer to the

original than the one obtained from method in [1]. The

difference between our proposed model and the one proposed

in [1] is the number of pixels that are used in analysis of the

embedding capacity. The error rate is negligibly minimized as

the number of surrounding pixels analyzed increases. In the

method proposed in [1], only four preceding pixels were

analyzed, but our proposed model provides a provision of

analysis of maximum possible surrounding pixels, thus

reducing the amount of error possible. Further our proposed

methodology uses transposition on binary string which would

remove any chances of obtaining the original text from the

image even if the technique is known and no encryption is

performed.

The proposed approach results in an image having no

artifacts and false counter. The stego-image generated by our

IJENS

approach has an embedding capacity greater than the 4 LSB

method and almost equivalent to the Lee method [2].

Although embedding capacity is less than Lee [2] and 4-LSB,

but it is robust and no one can judge the difference between

original image and the stego image. Table-1 shows a

34

method, Lee method, and the method proposed in [1]. The

table clearly shows the increase in data capacity of the image

to a 51% embedding capacity of the image.

Fig. 5 Comparison of stego-image produced by different methods

TABLE 1

RESULTS OF EMBEDDING USING DIFFERENT METHODS

Method

Image Size

Message Size

Capacity (bits

False

Artifacts

RMS

PSNR

4 LSB Method

Lees Method [2]

Maliks Method [1]

Proposed Method

(bytes)

9480x3

9480x3

9480x3

9480x3

(bytes)

14220

14298

10604

14270

per pixel)

50%

51%

41%

51%

Contour

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

3.52

3.15

2.18

2.50

40.63

41.88

43.10

42.30

IJENS

35

We have presented a steganography model that attains the

maximum LSB capacity and utilizes the maximum number of

surrounding pixels to attain an optimal embedding capacity

that ensures the seamless inclusion of data into the image. We

have transposed the binary equivalent of data and have

selected the pixels for the insertion of data in random order to

remove the tracking of sequential data in the image. We have

justified our approach with the help of a prototype and have

provided a comparison of effectiveness of our approach with

other well-established and related works. Our future work

aims at enhancing our current approach to increase the data

capacity in the stego-image.

REFERENCES

[1]

Capacity in Image Steganography using Dynamic LSB Technique,

submitted at the

IEEE International Conference on Emerging

Technologies (ICET), June 2005

[2] Y. K. Lee & L. H. Chen, High Capacity Image Steganography,

Department of Computer Science & Information Science, National

Chiao Tung University, Taiwan, R.O.C.

[3] W. Bender, D. Gruhl, N. Morimoto, and A. Lu. Techniques for data

hiding, In IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 35, Nos. 3-4, pages 313-336,

February 1996.

[4] U. V. Vazirani, V. V. Vaziarani, Efficient and Secure Pseudo-Random

Number Generation, In Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on

Foundations of Computer Science, 1984, 458 463

[5] E.T. Lin, E.J.DELP, A review of data hiding in digital images, in

Conference on Image Processing, Image Quality, Image Capture

Systems, PICS, April 1999, 274-278

[6] N.J.A. Sloane, Encrypting by Random Rotations," Lecture Notes in

Computer Science 149, 71-128, Springer-Verlag, 1983

[7] W. Stallings, Cryptography and Network Security: Principles and

rd

Practice 3 ed. Prentice Hall, August 2002

[8] N.F. Johnson and S. Jajodia. Exploring steganography: Seeing the

unseen, Computer, 31, no 2:26-34, February 1998.

[9] B. Schneier, Applied cryptography , Wiley, NewYork, 1996, 2nd

edition

[10] M. Naor, O. Reingold, A. Rosen , Pseudo-Random Functions and

Factoring, in SIAM Journal of Computing, 2002

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