Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 52, Issue 2–3, pp 569–596 | Cite as

Steganography via running short text messages

  • Natthawut Samphaiboon


Steganography, or covert communication between two parties through public channels, has been received a lot of attention, since the mere existence of encrypted message might cause suspicion and could even provide useful information to eavesdroppers. In some cases, secret information needs to be covertly broadcast to receivers in multiple locations at the same time. In this paper, we propose a novel steganographic scheme, which covertly sends secret message to multiple receivers via a stream of running short text messages displayed on a media output screen, assuming appropriate optical character recognition (OCR) functionality at the decoder. We use Thai language short text messages as a case study. We analyze the characteristics of Thai short text messages and introduce some effective message-to-bit transformation methods. We find that one Thai short text message can be transformed into multiple secret bits. In principle, the proposed transformation methods can be applied to short text messages in any language. We use a provably secure construction that guarantees covertness, privacy, and authenticity of the secret data against active attacks. In an experimental evaluation, we show that four secret message bits can be embedded in each short text message. In addition, we find that the embedded bits can be retrieved correctly and easily by human observers without OCR functionality at the decoder. Thus, the scheme is practical and effective for covert communication from one sender to multiple receivers over public channels.


Steganography Text steganography Covert communication Information hiding Information security 



We are grateful to Matthew Dailey, Chanathip Namprempre, Kiyoshi Honda, and Poompat Saengudomlert for helpful comments on this research. Sqd.Ldr. Natthawut Samphaiboon is with the Royal Thai Air Force and was supported in part by a graduate fellowship from the Royal Thai Government.


  1. 1.
    Amano T, Misaki D (1999) A feature calibration method for watermarking of document images. In: Proceedings of the fifth international conference on document analysis and recognition ICDAR’99, pp 91–94Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brassil JT, Low S, Maxemchuk NF (1999) Copyright protection for the electronic distribution of text documents. Proc IEEE 87(7):1181–1196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cvejic N, Seppänen T (2004) Increasing robustness of lsb audio steganography using a novel embedding method. In: ITCC ’04: proceedings of the international conference on information technology: coding and computing (ITCC’04), vol 2. IEEE Computer Society, Washington, DC, p 533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dailey M, Namprempre C, Samphaiboon N (2009) How to do embedding steganography securely.
  5. 5.
    Huang D, Yan H (2001) Interword distance changes represented by sine waves for watermarking text images. IEEE Trans Circuits Syst Video Technol 11(12):1237–1245MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Karoonboonyanan T (1999) Standardization and implementation of Thai language. National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kim Y-W, Oh I-S (2004) Watermarking text document images using edge direction histograms. Pattern Recogn Lett 25(11):1243–1251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kim Y-W, Moon K-A, Oh I-S (2003) A text watermarking algorithm based on word classification and inter-word space statistics. In: Proceedings of the seventh international conference on document analysis and recognition, pp 775–779Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Koanantakool T (1991) The keyboard layouts and input method of the Thai language. In: Information processing institute for education and development. Thammasat University, BangkokGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lou D-C, Liu J-L (2002) Steganographic method for secure communications. Comput Secur 21(5):449–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Muhammad H, Rahman S, Shakil A (2009) Synonym based malay linguistic text steganography. In: Innovative technologies in intelligent systems and industrial applications. CITISIA 2009, pp 423–427Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Rogaway P, Bellare M, Black J (2003) Ocb: a block-cipher mode of operation for efficient authenticated encryption. ACM Trans Inf Syst Secur 6:365–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Samphaiboon N, Dailey M (2008) Steganography in Thai text. In: Proceedings of ECTI-CON 2008, Krabi, ThailandGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shirali-Shahreza MH, Shirali-Shahreza M (2006) A new approach to Persian/Arabic text steganography. In: Proceedings of the 5th IEEE/ACIS international conference on computer and information science and 1st IEEE/ACIS international workshop on component-based software engineering, software architecture and reuse ICIS-COMSAR’06, pp 310–315Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shirali-Shahreza M, Shirali-Shahreza M (2007) Text steganography in sms. In: International conference on convergence information technology, pp 2260–2265Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Su JK, Hartung F, Girod B (1998) Digital watermarking of text, image, and video documents. Comput Graph 22(6):687–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sun X, Luo G, Huang H (2004) Component-based digital watermarking of Chinese texts. In: Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on information security, Shanghai, China, pp 76–81Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Topkara M, Taskiran CM, Delp EJ (2005) Natural language watermarking. In: Proceedings of SPIE-IS & T electronic imaging 2005, San JoseGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Yuling L, Xingming S, Can G, Hong W (2007) An efficient linguistic steganography for chinese text. In: ICME, pp 2094–2097Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Zhang W, Zeng Z, Pu G, Zhu, H (2006) Chinese text watermarking based on occlusive components. In: The 2nd information and communication technology ICTTA’06, vol 1, pp 1850–1854Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science and Information ManagementAsian Institute of TechnologyPathumthaniThailand

Personalised recommendations