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The need for steganalysis in image distribution channels

: Steinebach, Martin; Liu, Huajian; Ester, Andre


Journal of Cyber Security and Mobility 8 (2019), Nr.3, S.365-392
ISSN: 2245-1439
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF (Deutschland)
Lernlabor Cybersicherheit
Fraunhofer SIT ()

The rise of social networks during the last 10 years has created a situation in which up to 100 million new images and photographs are uploaded and shared by users every day. This environment poses an ideal background for those who wish to communicate covertly by the use of steganography. It also creates a new set of challenges for steganalysts, who have to shift their field of work away from a purely scientific laboratory environment and into a diverse real-world scenario, while at the same time having to deal with entirely new problems, such as the detection of steganographic channels or the impact that even a low false positive rate has when investigating the millions of images which are shared every day on social networks. We evaluate how to address these challenges with traditional steganographic and statistical methods, rather than using high performance computing and machine learning. To achieve this we first analyze the steganographic algorithm F5 applied to images with a high degree of diversity, as would be seen in a typical social network. We show that the biggest challenge lies in the detection of images whose payload is less then 50% of the available capacity of an image. We suggest new detection methods and apply these to the problem of channel detection in social network. We are able to show that using our attacks we are able to detect the majority of covert F5 channels after a mix containing 10 stego images has been classified by our scheme.