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Cybersecurity has evolved over time into a force to be reckoned with. Cybercriminals can no longer prey as easily on unsuspecting victims. This evolution in cybersecurity has caused a need for new techniques emerge for cybercriminals to carry out their schemes. One technique is data hiding, which is sometimes referred to as steganography. Data hiding often explored in cybersecurity graduate programs such as in Utica College’s course CYB 642 Data Hiding and Access Methods. Several main data hiding techniques will be discussed below.

Still Image:

One of the original forms of data hiding utilizes still images, which can be accomplished quite easily. Essentially, a program selects parts of the data of the image to embed the data they’re trying to hide based on the chosen password (1). The data can only be retrieved by using the same program which embedded it, and f course the same password. The naked eye typically cannot detect any difference when this type of technique is utilized. Data transmission using this technique is almost impossible to detect.

Video Stream:

Hiding data in videos has become quite popular. Videos stream regularly on the internet thus making their accessibility attractive. Hiding information in a video stream is similar to hiding information in a still image as a video stream is essentially a stream of still images which are referred to as frames (4). There are just a lot more images and thus more data can be hidden. There are several techniques, however the concept essentially is- the amount of data that can be hidden is calculated per frame based on the video quality and type, and then the amount of data that can be added per frame is multiplied by the number of frames (4). The outcome of the calculation helps the user select the video based on the amount of data they want to hide.

Audio File:

Audio data is somewhat complex, however it is essentially divided into two channels. When using data hiding techniques for audio files, cyber criminals hide data in one of the pairs of data in an audio file. Another more complex technique involves imbedding data in the high frequencies of reverberations (1). There is then a mathematical equitation used to extract the data regardless of the technique (1). Neither of these techniques is easily discerned and even if they are, the data itself would be impossible to extract without prior information utilized to imbed it.

DNA Sequence:

An additional strategy for data hiding employs the use of a DNA sequence. One of the most popular techniques using a DNA sequence involves creating rules by which the binary code are paired with elements of the DNA sequence and indexed afterwards (1). The receiver of the information uses the same rules and indexing to reverse the process and gain access to the information (1).

Summary:

As cybersecurity continues to advance, techniques such as data hiding have emerged and continue to evolve. Various data files from still images to DNA sequences can be used to transmit data inconspicuously. While it is difficult to detect, it is critical cybersecurity professionals stay up to date on the latest techniques and trends in order to remain vigilante and consistently effective. Courses such as Utica’s CYB 642 Data Hiding and Access Methods demonstrate how graduate programs in cybersecurity are helping cybersecurity professionals stay one step ahead.


References:

  1. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1206/1206.1957.pdf
  2. https://null-byte.wonderhowto.com/how-to/steganography-hide-secret-data-inside-image-audio-file-seconds-0180936/
  3. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/14738/data-hiding
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229025957_Data_hiding_in_video