By Tim Greene
April 09, 2010
There's a potential new form of steganography -- the sending of messages
in ways that leave no hint the messages even exists -- that could lead
to corporate data loss via CDs.
Steganography is just one application of technology being researched at
Princeton University primarily to create instruments that can see
through fog but that could also be used to reveal hidden messages, says
one of the researchers, Jason Fleischer, an assistant professor of
electrical engineering at the school.
If the latest steganography application is brought to fruition, data
could be stored on CDs in a way that renders it undetectable by
conventional CD players. But with a specially designed player, the
hidden data could be read.
The researchers' discoveries could also be applied to building radars
that work better in storms, improving the imaging of sonograms and
crafting night vision goggles with better resolution.
In the case of steganography, if thieves could burn stolen data as
hidden messages onto part of a CD, the rest could contain benign data
that would lead corporate security professionals to think it was a
run-of-the-mill CD containing unimportant data. Once the CD was outside
corporate control, a special reader could reveal the stolen intellectual
The technology relies on a characteristic called stochastic resonance,
the ability to refocus optical noise so it strengthens the optical
signal that it is obscuring, Fleischer says. In the case of fog, images
of objects are obscured because the water vapor diffuses the light
bouncing off them.
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