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Information Hiding Techniques: A Tutorial Review

By Sabu M Thampi


The purpose of this tutorial is to present an overview of various information hiding techniques. A brief history of steganography is provided along with techniques that were used to hide information. Text, image and audio based information hiding techniques are discussed. This paper also provides a basic introduction to digital watermarking. 1. History of Information Hiding The idea of communicating secretly is as old as communication itself. In this section, we briefly discuss the historical development of information hiding techniques such as steganography/ watermarking. Early steganography was messy. Before phones, before mail, before horses, messages were sent on foot. If you wanted to hide a message, you had two choices: have the messenger memorize it, or hide it on the messenger. While information hiding techniques have received a tremendous attention recently, its application goes back to Greek times. According to Greek historian Herodotus, the famous Greek tyrant Histiaeus, while in prison, used unusual method to send message to his son-in-law. He shaved the head of a slave to tattoo a message on his scalp. Histiaeus then waited until the hair grew back on slave’s head prior to sending him off to his son-inlaw. The second story also came from Herodotus, which claims that a soldier named Demeratus needed to send a message to Sparta that Xerxes intended to invade Greece. Back then, the writing medium was written on wax-covered tablet. Demeratus removed the wax from the tablet, wrote the secret message on the underlying wood, recovered the tablet with wax to make it appear as a blank tablet and finally sent the document without being detected. Invisible inks have always been a popular method of steganography. Ancient Romans used to write between lines using invisible inks based on readily available substances such as fruit juices, urine and milk. When heated, the invisible inks would darken, and become legible. Ovid in his “Art of Love ” suggests using milk to write invisibly. Late

Year: 2009
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