Two Ranchi engineering students have designed a computer methodology which they say can stop steganographic or coded messages from being transferred through the internet.
Steganography is the fabled process of hiding information in plain sight in the internet within graphics and photos with jpeg, gif, and bmp files. The advantage of steganography is that the intended secret message does not attract attention to itself.
“It is possible that on social media most of us are regularly sharing pictures that have crucial messages for terror outfits,” said 23-year-old Pratik Kumar, who along with Rakesh Kumar, 24, developed the technology.
The two are engineering students at the Cambridge Institute of Technology in Ranchi and have worked for a year to develop the process. They said their methodology, RAKS. M. PK 1.0, had been approved by the International Journal of Computer Science and Communication (IJCSC) and British Journal of Mathematics and Computer Science, an open peer-reviewed journal.
“Unfortunately, none of the social networking sites use any technology to detect such images,” said Rakesh.
Cyrptography and steganography have been in use since ages. The difference between two is, in cryptography, cyber sleuths can tell a message has been encrypted, but can’t decode without knowing the key. In steganography, it might not be tough to decode the message in itself, but most people won’t detect the presence of the message. Pratik said their methodology could detect pictures that have encrypted information and prevent such pictures from being uploaded on social media.
The two have written to Facebook offering the computer methodology, but said were yet to get a reply.
Prakhar Prasad, an information security expert said Facebook and Twitter compress pictures while uploading. The process eliminates most of the encrypted messages as the compressed image is created from scratch using the uploaded image. However, he said steganography cannot be eliminated entirely. While the students claim their methodology can eliminate steganography with 100% efficiency, Prasad said “nothing can have 100% efficiency because there will always be edge cases in which the logic will fail to detect images with steganographic content.”