Securing LSB embedding against structural steganalysis

by   Brian A. Powell, et al.

This work explores the extent to which LSB embedding can be made secure against structural steganalysis through a modification of cover image statistics prior to message embedding. Natural images possess symmetries that are expressed through approximately equal cardinalities of certain sets of k-tuples of consecutive pixels. LSB embedding disturbs this balance and a k^ th-order structural attack infers the presence of a hidden message with a length in proportion to the size of the imbalance amongst sets of k-tuples. To protect against k^ th-order structural attacks, cover modifications involve the redistribution of k-tuples among the different sets so that symmetries of the cover image are broken, then repaired through the act of LSB embedding so that the stego image bears the statistics of the original cover. To protect against all orders up to some order k, the statistics of n-tuples must be preserved where n is the least common multiple of all orders ≤ k. We find that this is only feasible for securing against up to 3^ rd-order attacks (Sample Pairs and Triples analyses) since higher-order protections result in virtually zero embedding capacities. Securing up to 3^ rd-order requires redistribution of sextuplets: rather than perform these 6^ th-order cover modifications, which result in tiny embedding capacities, we reduce the problem to the redistribution of triplets in a manner that also preserves the statistics of pairs. This is done by embedding into only certain pixels of each sextuplet, constraining the maximum embedding rate to be ≤ 2/3 bits per channel. Testing on a variety of image formats, we report best performance for JPEG-compressed images with a mean maximum embedding rate undetectable by 2^ nd- and 3^ rd-order attacks of 0.21 bits per channel.


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