22 June 2004 Searching for the stego-key
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Abstract
Steganalysis in the wide sense consists of first identifying suspicious objects and then further analysis during which we try to identify the steganographic scheme used for embedding, recover the stego key, and finally extract the hidden message. In this paper, we present a methodology for identifying the stego key in key-dependent steganographic schemes. Previous approaches for stego key search were exhaustive searches looking for some recognizable structure (e.g., header) in the extracted bit-stream. However, if the message is encrypted, the search will become much more expensive because for each stego key, all possible encryption keys would have to be tested. In this paper, we show that for a very wide range of steganographic schemes, the complexity of the stego key search is determined only by the size of the stego key space and is independent of the encryption algorithm. The correct stego key can be determined through an exhaustive stego key search by quantifying statistical properties of samples along portions of the embedding path. The correct stego key is then identified by an outlier sample distribution. Although the search methodology is applicable to virtually all steganographic schemes, in this paper we focus on JPEG steganography. Search techniques for spatial steganographic techniques are treated in our upcoming paper.
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Jessica Fridrich, Miroslav Goljan, David Soukal, "Searching for the stego-key", Proc. SPIE 5306, Security, Steganography, and Watermarking of Multimedia Contents VI, (22 June 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.521353; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.521353
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