Secret codes 'not hidden in Web images'

    Date26 Sep 2001
    CategoryCryptography
    3024
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    Following reports that bin Laden hides messages in images on the Web, a study has found no evidence that steganography has caught on. A study of more than two million images downloaded from eBay auctions appears to show little . . . Following reports that bin Laden hides messages in images on the Web, a study has found no evidence that steganography has caught on. A study of more than two million images downloaded from eBay auctions appears to show little evidence that terrorists -- or indeed anybody else -- is using the images to hide encoded messages.

    The study, by Niels Provos and Peter Honeyman at the University of Michigan, was carried out in response to reports that terrorists are using steganography to hide their communications in images on Internet sites such as Amazon and eBay.

    The researchers analysed the images to look for evidence of a type of encryption called steganography, which refers to the practice of hiding the existence of a message. If an image on eBay did have a message encoded into it, it would be indistinguishable to the casual observer from the original image. The weakness of such systems, say the researchers, is that they rely on the secrecy of the encoding system.

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