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Hierarchical steganography using novel optimum quantization technique

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Security and imperceptibility are fundamental issues for steganography. This paper presents a multi-level steganography system based on concealing and deception. Basically, the secret image is embedded in a cover image, which in turn is embedded in another higher-level cover image. Each steganography level provides additional security, with lower levels implemented using stronger steganography methods. Furthermore, in the event that the higher level steganography is compromised, it would include misleading information to deceive the attacker that he/she is successfully eavesdropping. One challenge of hierarchical system is retaining hidden data in lower level in a higher level stenographic technique. To mitigate this issue, we designed a novel technique which combines discrete cosine transform and least significant bit (LSB). The technique objective is to maximize the capacity and invisibility of the secret image with minimal modification to the cover image (at most k-bits per block). The performance (capacity and peak signal-to-noise ratio) of the proposed method has superior performance compared with LSB since it combines the benefits of 1-bit and 3-bit LSBs. Furthermore, the paper demonstrates that the secret message is successfully embedded and extracted in two-level steganography system with peak signal-to-nose ratio greater than 20 dB.

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Correspondence to Bassam Jamil Mohd.

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Mohd, B.J., Abed, S., Na’ami, B. et al. Hierarchical steganography using novel optimum quantization technique. SIViP 7, 1029–1040 (2013).

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