Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 76, Issue 6, pp 8597–8626 | Cite as

CISSKA-LSB: color image steganography using stego key-directed adaptive LSB substitution method

  • Khan Muhammad
  • Jamil Ahmad
  • Naeem Ur Rehman
  • Zahoor Jan
  • Muhammad Sajjad


Information hiding is an active area of research where secret information is embedded in innocent-looking carriers such as images and videos for hiding its existence while maintaining their visual quality. Researchers have presented various image steganographic techniques since the last decade, focusing on payload and image quality. However, there is a trade-off between these two metrics and keeping a better balance between them is still a challenging issue. In addition, the existing methods fail to achieve better security due to direct embedding of secret data inside images without encryption consideration, making data extraction relatively easy for adversaries. Therefore, in this work, we propose a secure image steganographic framework based on stego key-directed adaptive least significant bit (SKA-LSB) substitution method and multi-level cryptography. In the proposed scheme, stego key is encrypted using a two-level encryption algorithm (TLEA); secret data is encrypted using a multi-level encryption algorithm (MLEA), and the encrypted information is then embedded in the host image using an adaptive LSB substitution method, depending on secret key, red channel, MLEA, and sensitive contents. The quantitative and qualitative experimental results indicate that the proposed framework maintains a better balance between image quality and security, achieving a reasonable payload with relatively less computational complexity, which confirms its effectiveness compared to other state-of-the-art techniques.


Image steganography Information security Image quality LSB Stego key Multimedia security Data hiding 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khan Muhammad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jamil Ahmad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Naeem Ur Rehman
    • 2
  • Zahoor Jan
    • 2
  • Muhammad Sajjad
    • 2
  1. 1.Digital Contents Research InstituteSejong UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceIslamia College PeshawarPeshawarPakistan

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