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6, 2011

**Steganography based on Contourlet Transform
**

Sushil Kumar1 Department of Mathematics, Rajdhani college,University of Delhi, New Delhi, India e-mail- skazad@rajdhani.du.ac.in

Abstract— In this paper we present a steganographic technique based on Contourlet transform (CTT). The proposed technique uses a self-synchronizing variable length code to encode the original message which has been proved better than Huffman code in terms of power energy. The secret data then is embedded in the high frequency sub-bands obtained by applying CTT to the cover-image using variable LSB method and Thresholding method. The Contourlet transform is more suitable for data hiding applications as Contourlet gives more edges. Moreover more data can be hidden in the high frequency regions without perceptibility distorting the original image. Experimental results show that the original message and original image both can be recovered form stego-image accurately. The results are compared with existing steganographic techniques [10-12] based on Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) and Discrete Slantlet Transform (SLT). It is known that SLT is a better candidate for signal compression compared to the DWT based scheme and it can provide better time localization. Experimental results have confirmed CTT based method gives better imperceptibility and better embedding rate than the DWT. Keywords- Steganography, DWT, SLT, CTT, LSB, PSNR

**S.K.Muttoo2 Department of Computer Science, University of Delhi, Delhi, India e-mail- skmuttoo@cs.du.ac.in
**

The image steganography in the frequency domain is one of the growing research areas in recent years because of its capability of providing robustness to attacks and posing a real challenge to anybody trying to discover and decode hidden messages.. Wavelet transforms are most widely-used tool in signal processing due to its inherent multi-resolution representation akin to the operation of the human visual system. However, the research on applying the wavelets to data hiding techniques is still too weak, only a few publications deal with this topic at present. This paper focuses on this challenging research topic. In medical profession and law enforcement fields, it is not only the hiding and recovery of message required perfectly but also the recovery of original image is important for the examination. Various distortionless (or invertible or lossless) data hiding methods have been proposed and analyzed, e.g., [3, 5, 6, 13-16]. Xuan et al.[14] have presented distortionless data hiding based integer wavelet transform. Celik et al. [3] have proposed a reversible data hiding method based on the idea of first compressing portion of the signal that are susceptible to embedding distortion and then transmitting it as part of embedded payload. Hsiag-Cheh Huang et al. [5] have proposed scheme for protecting and recovering sensitive information by mosaikking the region with confidential information and then delivering the modified image to the public. The person who has the secret key can only to view the confidential information. In this paper, we propose a steganographic technique based on Discrete Contourlet Transform (CTT). It is well known that SLT offers superior compression performance compared to the conventional DCT and the DWT based approaches [7]. It has been observed that SLT can be implemented employing filters of shorter supports and maintaining the orthogonality and an octave-band characteristic, with two zero moments. The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2 presents a review of Contourlet transform. Section 3 presents the proposed algorithms. Performance evaluation is presented in Section 4. Conclusions and future scope are presented in Section 5.

I. INTRODUCTION

In the era of new generation technology, the Internet and multimedia applications have reached places where other communication or transport means are still at its infancy. It is now convenient for people to transmit mass data in the form of text, images, audio and video through internet. However, there is always a threat from the hackers of stealing the valuable information. The organizations such as banking, commerce, diplomacy and medicine, private communications are essential. Security is an important issue in the information technology now-a-days. Modern cryptography provides a variety of mathematical tools for protecting privacy and security that extend far beyond the ancient art of encrypting messages. However, for carrying out confidential communication over public networks, simply concealing the contents of a message using cryptography is found to be inadequate as it can still raise suspicion to eavesdroppers. People have found the solution to this problem in Steganography. Steganography deals with a host of techniques that conceal the existence of a hidden communication. The secret message to be transmitted is camouflaged in a carrier media so that its detection becomes difficult.

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II. CONTOURLET TRANSFORM In image compression, the Wavelet transforms produces much less blocking artifacts than the DCT. They are adopted in JPEG2000. They also perform well in image de-noising. However, 2D wavelet transform is, intrinsically, a tensorproduct implementation of the 1D wavelet transform, and it provides local frequency representation of image regions over a range of spatial scales, and it does not represent 2D singularities effectively. Therefore it does not work well in retaining the directional edges in the image, and it is not sufficient in representing the contours not horizontally or vertically. The Contourlet transform (CTT) is a true 2-D geometrical image based transform, which is recently introduced by M.N. Do and M. Vetterli [5]. It overcomes the difficulty in exploring the geometry in digital images due to the discrete nature of the image data. It possesses the important properties of directionality and anisotropy which wavelet do not possesses.. It can represent a smooth contour with fewer coefficients compared with wavelets ( figure 2.2.1). The CTT is based on a double filter bank structure by combining the Laplacian Pyramid (LP) with a directional filter bank (DFB). The Laplacian pyramid (LP) is used to decompose an image into a number of radial subabnds and the directional filter bank ( DFB) decompose each LP details subband into a number of directional subbands. The required number of directions can be specified by the user. Multiresolution flexibility, local and directional image expansion in the contourlet image representation, allows for easy sub-band processing. In all, Contourlet has the properties Multiresolution ,i.e, representing images from a coarse level to fine-resolution level, Localization , i.e., basis elements can be localized in both the spatial and the frequency domains, Critical sampling ,i.e., representation form a basis, or a frame with small redundancy, Directionality, i.e., representation of basis elements oriented at variety of directions and Anisotropy, i.e., capturing of smooth contours in images. The first three properties are also provided by separable wavelets. The analysis part of this type of filter is shown figure 2.2.2.

We can extract important coefficients and edge directional information by contourlet transform, as shown in the figure 2.2.3. The figure 2.2.4 is the level 2 decompositon of image ‘aeroplane.tif’.

LL

LH1

LH2

H1L

H1H1

H1H2

H2L

H2H1

H2H2

Figure 2.2.3: low sub-band and directional sub-bands Of level 2 decompositon of image ‘zoneplate.png’

Figure 2.2.2: Respective frequency plane decompositon

Contourlet transform has the advantages of high capacity than the wavelet and wavelet-like transform ( that have 3 high frequency subbands whereas we obtain 4 subbands in contourlet.

Figure 2.2.1: Wavelet versus Contoulet: illustrating the successive refinement by the two systems near a smooth contour, which is shown as a thick curve separating two smooth regions

**III. PROPOSED METHOD
**

The proposed steganographic technique embeds secret data obtained after encoding by T-codes into the 4 subbands for horizontal and vertical directions obtained

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from the cover image after applying 2-level of CTT. Preprocessing is performed prior to data embedding in each scheme, viz., LSB and Thresholding, to ensure that no overflow/underflow takes place. The stego-image carrying hidden message is obtained after inverse CTT. Figure 4.2 is the flowchart of the proposed embedding data hiding. Figure 4.3 is the flowchart for hidden data extraction and original cover image recovery.

Contourlet coefficients

To recover the original image, each high frequency coefficient can be restored to its original value by applying the following formula: x= x’ / b if -2T < x’ < 2T x ‘- T if x’ ≥ 2 T x’ + T-1 if x’ ≤ -2T +1

We further note that the best known variable-length codes (VLC) are the huffman codes. They are easy to construct for optimum efficiency if source statistics are known. But, if used in serial communication, a loss of synchronization often results in a complex resynchronization process whose length and outcome are difficult to predict.When corruption occurs in a stream of data which is coded, the decoder can lose track of where codeword boundaries are located in the data stream. Thus, it is required to choose codes which will selfsynchronize as a result of the normal decoding process. M.R. Titchner [18] proposed T-codes which are families of VLCs that exhibit extraordinarily strong tendency towards selfsynchronization.

Figure 2.2.4: Contourlet decomposition of level 2 of image: new3.tif

The basic idea of LSB embedding is to embed the message bit at the rightmost bits of pixel value so that the embedding method does not affect the original pixel value greatly. The formula for the embedding is as follows: x’ = x - x mod 2k + b where k is the number of LSBs to be substituted. The extraction of message from the high frequency coefficients is given as: b = x mod 2k Threshold embedding method for the lossless data hiding is given by Xuan et al. [11]. We predefine a threshold value. To embed data into a high frequency coefficient of sub-band HH, LH or HL, the absolute value of the coefficient is compared with T. If the absolute value is less than the threshold, the coefficient is doubles and message bit is added to the LSB. No message bit is embedded otherwise, however, the coefficients are modified as follows: x’ = 2*x + b if |x| < T x+T if x ≥ T x – (T-1) if x ≤ -T

The proposed Embedding algorithm can be summarized into 4 steps:

Embedding algorithm :

where T is the threshold value, b is the message bit, x is the high frequency coefficient and x’ is the corresponding modified frequency coefficients.

Step0. We first obtain the secret data by applying best T-codes as a source encoder to the given input text/message.

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Step1: We apply pre-processing to prevent possible “overflow” during embedding ( e.g., replacing the grayscale values 0 to 255 into 15 to 240). Step2. Then we consider 8-bit greyscale image and decompose it into 5 sub-bands: one lowpass subaband and 4 subbands for horizontal and vertical directions by applying 2-level CTT. Step3. We then embed data in the two horizontal and two vertical sub-bands in case of CTT using two methods, LSB method and Thresholding method. Step4. Finally, we obtain stego-image by taking the inverse slantlet transform/ inverse CTT of the modified image of step3.

The imperceptibility is better in case of Slantlet transform than others, however , acceptable in case of Contourlet transform too. The algorithm does not need original image for recovering the secret data. The use of T-codes provides selfsynchronization in the decoding stage. Experimental results prove that the proposed algorithm is better than the earlier algorithms based on DWT. The SLT results are better than even CTT, but the embedding capacity is more in CTT.

Table 5.3 Comparison of proposed algorithm based on Contourlet with wavelet and Slantlet based method , using PSNR Images Wavelet Method ( secret bits=154) 26.6451 26.2758 22.1978 26.7111 26.9762 22.8241 25.3919 31.1244 27.6686 28.8096 27.7425 Slantlet Method ( secret bits=154) 51.9163 59.4998 47.6719 59.9642 54.3398 59.4137 54.5226 54.0462 59.4805 59.4296 60.2497 Proposed Method (CTT) ( secret bits=241) 43.6949 47.5772 47.5818 53.7938 47.2034 46.8714 43.6528 50.2019 50.0180 53.1674 47.9466

**Extraction algorithm : Step 4. Apply 2-level CTT to the stego image
**

Step5. Extract secret data from the four horizontal and vertical sub-bands of CTT, by applying LSB/ thresholding techniques. Step 6. Extract embedded secret data and Step7. Recover the original image by reverse operation of the embedding. Step8. Obtain the original message by T-decoding the secret data, with the help of encoding key.

new1.tif (aeroplane) new2.tif (lena) new3.tif (guerilla ) new5.tif (boat) new7.tif (peppers) new9.tif (Cameraman) new11.tif (Image) Barbara.png pool.bmp lena256.bmp Tulips.jpg

V. CONCLUSIONS The present paper proposed a steganographic technique based on Discrete Contourlet Transform. A self-synchronizing variable length code, T-codes are used for encoding the original message. It has two advantages: to compress the original message and to obtain the message correctly at decoding stage. Two different embedding techniques LSB embedding and Threshold embedding have been used for embedding the secret message in the cover object. The results are compared with the data hiding techniques based on Wavelet and Slantlet transforms. The experimental results show better imperceptibility than the DWT based method. Since there is no artifact in the stego-image, the original image can be distortionlessly recovered from the stego-image after the hidden data has been been extracted. The payload in the proposed embedding techniques is also the better than the DWT technique.

IV. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS To evaluate the performance of the proposed data hiding algorithm, we have used 128 x128 and 256 x256 gray scale images . Simulations were done using MATLAB ver 7.0 and Window XP. Some of the stego images obtained from the implementation of proposed algorithm for CTT are shown in Fig.5.1 and original and reconstructed images are shown in Fig. 5.2.

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**(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 9, No. 6, 2011
**

stego-image

stego-image

Original image

Reconstructed image

stego-image

stego-image

Original image

Reconstructed image

stego-image

Original image

Reconstructed image

**Figure 5.1 : Stego images of proposed algorithm based on CTT. REFERENCES
**

[1] Alpert B., Coifman G.R., and Rokhlin V. (1993), Wavelet-like bases for the fast solution of second kind integral equations, SIAM J. Sci. Comput., 14: 159-184. http:///dx.doi.org/10.1137.0914010 [2] Awrengjeb M. (2003), An Overview of reversible Data Hiding, ICCIT 2003, Jahangirnagar University, Banladesh, Dec. 19-21, pp. 75-79 [3] Celik M., Sharma G., Taekalp A.M., Saber E. (2002), Reversible data hiding, in Proceeding of the International Conference on Image Processing 2002, Rochester, NY, September. [4] Maitra M. and Chatterjee A. (2006), A Slantlet transform based intelligent system for magnetic resonance brain image classification, Biomedical Siganl Processing and Conrol, 1 , pp. 299-306 [5] Muttoo S.K. and Sushil Kumar (2009) , Data Hiding in JPEG images, BVICAM’s IJIT, Vol. 1, No.1, Jan.-July. [6] Muttoo S.K. and Sushil Kumar (2009) , Secure image Steganography based on Slantlet transform, ICM2CS-09, JNU, New Delhi, India

Original image

Reconstructed image

**Figure 5.2 : original images and reconstructed images of proposed algorithm based on CTT.
**

[7] NI Z., Shi Y.Q., Ansari N., Su Wei, Sun Q. and Lin X.( 2004), Robust Lossless Image Data Hiding, IEEE International Conferencs on Multimedia and Expo(ICME), 2199-2202 [8] Panda G. and Meher S.K. (2000), An efficient approach to signal compression using slantlet transform, IETE Journal of Research, Vol. 46, No. 5, September, pp. 299-307 [9] Selesnick Ivan W. (1998), The Slantlet Transform, IEEE transactions on signal processing,Vol. 47, No. 5, May, pp. 1304-1312. [10] Sushil Kumar, S.K. Mutttoo, Distortionless Data Hiding based on Slantlet Transform, Proceeding of the first Intenational conference on Multimedia Information Networking & Security ( Mines 2009) , Nov. 17- 20, Vol. 1, pp. 48-52, IEEE Computer Society Press, 2009 [11] Sushil Kumar, S.K. Mutttoo, Data Hiding techniques based on Wavelet-like Transform and Complex Wavelet Transform, International

Original image

Reconstructed image

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**(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 9, No. 6, 2011
**

Symposium on Intelligence Information Processing and Trusted Computing, IPTC 2010, Huanggang, China, Oct. 28-29, 2010 [12] Sushil Kumar, S.K. Mutttoo, Image Steganography based on Complex Double Dual Tree Wavelet Transform, MINES 2010, Nanjing, China, Nov. 4-6, 2010 [13]Tian J. (2003), High capacity reversible data embedding and content authentication, IEEE International Conference on Acoustic, Speech, and Signal Processing, April 6-10, vol. 3, pp. 517-520. [14] Xuan G., Zhu J., Chen J., Shi Y.Q., Ni Z, and Su W.(2002), Distortionless data hiding based on integer wavelet transform, IEEE Electronics Letters, Dec., pp. 1646-1648 [15] Xuan G.,.Shi Y.Q., Yang C., Zhang Y., Zou D. and Chai P. (2002), Lossless Data Hiding using integer wavelet transform, and threshold embedding technique, in Proceeding of IEEE International Workshop on Mutimedia Signal Processing, Marriott Beach Resort ST. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Dec. 9-11. [16] Xuan G., Yang C., Zhen Y., Shi Y.Q., Ni Z.(2004), Reversible data hiding based on wavelet spread spectrum, IEEE 6th Workshop on Multimedia Signal Processing, 211-214. [17] Titchener, M.R. (1996), Generalised T-codes: extended construction algorithm for self- synchronization codes, IEE Proc. Commun., Vol. 143, No.3, pp. 122-128. [18] Ulrich G. (1998), Robust Source Coding with Generalised T-codes, a thesis submitted in the University of Auckland. [19] Yu L. and Sun S.,(2000), Slantlet transform based image fingerprints, Communication, Netwirk and information security, CNIS. [20] Do M.N. and Vetterli M. (2005), The Contourlet transform: An efficient directional multiresolution image representation , IEEE Trans. On Image Processing, 14(12), 2091-2106. [21] Navas K.A., Mathew N.M., and Sasikumar M. (2009), Contourlet based data hiding in medical images, CSI. AUTHORS PROFILE

1

Sushil Kumar is associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Rajdhani College, University of Delhi, New Delhi. He has been teaching graduate and under-graduate students for last 30 years. He is the author of three text books: ‘Computer fundamental and Software’, ‘Scientific and Statistical computations using Fortran 77’ and ‘Theory of Computations’. His areas of research include Harmonic analysis, Fuzzy topology, Parallel Computing, Image Processing, Information Security. S.K.Muttoo is associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, University of Delhi, Delhi. His research areas include information security, computer graphic and image-processing.

2

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In this paper we present a steganographic technique based on Contourlet transform (CTT). The proposed technique uses a self-synchronizing variable length code to encode the original message which h...

In this paper we present a steganographic technique based on Contourlet transform (CTT). The proposed technique uses a self-synchronizing variable length code to encode the original message which has been proved better than Huffman code in terms of power energy. The secret data then is embedded in the high frequency sub-bands obtained by applying CTT to the cover-image using variable LSB method and Thresholding method. The Contourlet transform is more suitable for data hiding applications as Contourlet gives more edges. Moreover more data can be hidden in the high frequency regions without perceptibility distorting the original image. Experimental results show that the original message and original image both can be recovered form stego-image accurately. The results are compared with existing steganographic techniques [10-12] based on Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) and Discrete Slantlet Transform (SLT). It is known that SLT is a better candidate for signal compression compared to the DWT based scheme and it can provide better time localization. Experimental results have confirmed CTT based method gives better imperceptibility and better embedding rate than the DWT.

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