Terrorists might use it to mask their messages: it’s called data hiding - the subject of a new book by Ali Akansu, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Akansu’s book, Data Hiding Fundamentals and Applications: Content Security in Digital Multimedia, published by Elsevier-Academic Press (2004), develops a theoretical framework for different data hiding techniques, including watermarking.
Encryption and data hiding are two technologies that play major roles in information security and assurance, Akansu says. One of the key issues in content- security solutions is the imperceptible insertion of content and user-specific information into multimedia data for security.
The book is the first to place data hiding techniques within a framework that tells readers how to calculate the payloads – the allowable hidden bits of information – and crack the code of data hiding.
“It’s a sophisticated research book that has applications that many readers can learn from, not just engineers and researchers,” Akansu says. “Our government thinks terrorists might use data hiding to pass information to each other by images posted on the public Internet. The book will help information-security engineers learn to decode hidden information in a cover image and retrieve the secret messages.”
In his book, Akansu discusses how a Hollywood company, whose films were illegally copied onto pirated videos and sold on the streets, might benefit from data hiding technology. Using techniques presented in the book, one can trace the pirated video back to its source.
“The book introduces realistic applications in secure multimedia delivery,” Akansu says. “These emerging data hiding applications include not only watermarking but also fingerprinting, broadcast monitoring and others. The book provides performance comparisons of popular data hiding techniques in the literature.”
The Internet revolution, digital representation, and transportation of data offered efficient solutions for information delivery, Akansu said. But these developments brought with them concerns about security, monitoring and the use of information by qualified end users.
“Therefore, information technology infrastructure and service businesses started taking these customer concerns as a top priority in their current and future product and market development activities,” says Akansu. “Hence, information security is already a household term that will stay with us forever.”
Akansu wrote the book with two of his former doctoral students, Husrev T. Sencar and Mahalingam Ramkumar. Sencar is now a research professor at Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, and Ramkumar is assistant professor at Mississippi State University.
Akansu has always blended his theoretical research work with industrial applications. He was the vice president of research and development of the IDT Corporation, Newark, from 2000-2001. He was also the president and CEO of PixWave, Newark, a subsidiary of the IDT Corp., where he led the development of the first software product for a secure peer-to-peer (P2P) video distribution system over the Internet, including a real-time video watermarking and fingerprinting system for content authentication and tracing.
Akansu received his bachelor’s degree from the Technical University of Istanbul in 1980,and his master’s (1983) and doctorate (1987) from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn. He joined NJIT in 1987 as a professor of electrical and computer engineering.