Digital Watermarking

and Steganography:

Fundamentals and Techniques


by Frank Y. Shih

CRC Press, 2008


Reviewed by: Lawrence O’Gorman

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Watermarking is a field of signal processing and pattern recognition that has enjoyed accelerated interest since the mid-90s directly in parallel to the explosive growth of the Internet. The reason is that, although the Internet enables easy, global distribution of documents, this same advantage is a security disadvantage. How do you control distribution to only those who have legitimate access or who have purchased access rights? How do you prevent legitimate buyers of documents from reselling these illegitimately? How do you prevent a document from being re-authored, effectively misrepresented by a plagiarizer? Internet documents can be anything from text to audio, to image, to video. We know that there has been much concern from the respective industries (most publicly the music industry), and a rush to solutions by the technical community in the form of many watermarking techniques. This book focuses on image watermarking and describes the basics and more advanced methods of the field.

This is a relatively short book, which I consider an advantage. It is 180 pages, including index. However, it is densely packed with all the information that a student, researcher, or practitioner will need to start and to delve well into the fields of image watermarking and steganography. It is very well-illustrated with example figures and tables that by my count averaged more than 3 per page. Each of the 12 chapters has a list of references of from 10 to 40 in number. The index looks thorough and the table of contents and lists of sections per chapters enables fast lookup of topics of interest.

Chapter 1 introduces the field and distinguishes watermarking from steganography. The latter term refers to information-hiding. Although a watermark is not always hidden in its resident document, it often is. The main feature that distinguishes steganography from watermarking is the following. For steganography, the embedded information is the one and only item of interest, and the document in which that information is embedded simply provides an entity for hiding. However, a watermark contains information specifically associated with the document into which it is embedded (e.g., copyright, authorship, buyer).

Chapter 2 provides watermarking classifications. There is sometimes some confusion in classifying watermarking techniques. This book addresses this by classifying first based on characteristics and second based on applications. Three characteristics classifications are: perceptible/imperceptible, robust/fragile, and spatial/frequency domain based. Two application classifications are: copyright protection, data authentication, and fingerprinting (identification of recipient of document).

Chapter 3 provides mathematical fundamentals, including cosine and wavelet transforms, random sequence generation, and error correction. Chapter 4 provides watermarking fundamentals, including additive and multiplicative watermarking, spatial and frequency domain watermarking, fragile and robust watermarking—the latter by redundancy or spread spectrum approaches.

After these three chapters describing the watermarking basics, Chapter 5 introduces the reader to watermarking attacks, leaving the following four chapters to describe more sophisticated watermarking methods to counteract attacks or for other demands. The attacks discussed in Chapter 5 include: filtering, modulation, compression (JPEG), scaling, rotation, cryptographic, and protocol attacks. Chapter 6 describes combinatorial watermarking where a watermark is separated into spatial and frequency components and added to these respective domains of the same image. This can be advantageous in at least two ways: it can increase capacity at same level of perception or decrease potential for successful attack. Chapter 7 introduces watermarks created via a genetic algorithm, in this case to reduce error brought about by rounding of the watermark elements. Chapter 8 discusses adjusted-purpose watermarking, in which an appropriate choice is made analytically from the continuum of watermarking methods and from the parameters discussed up to this point in the book. Chapter 9 introduces the challenge of robust high-capacity watermarks that resist attacks.

The final two chapters, 10 and 11 are devoted to steganography. A short introduction in Chapter 10 concludes with short descriptions of four available steganographic software packages: S-Tools, StegoDos, EZStego, and JSTEG-JPEG. Chapter 11 covers steganalysis, that is steganography attacks. These two final chapters are short, but in concert with the preceding chapters devoted to watermarking, they provide a complete picture of the field and a basis for future work—including project work by a student in either watermarking or steganography.

One advantage of this book is that the author and his students have personally contributed to research on many of the techniques. This is evidenced by practical examples included in many of the chapters that, I conjecture, are part of one or more published papers. The author clearly has extensive and direct research experience with images.  The general field of watermarking is also applied to other signal and document types, a relatively important one being music/audio and a smaller one being text.  These are not covered in the text, so those interested in these applications would need to look elsewhere.  A more specific title might have been Digital Watermarking and Steganography for Images:  Fundamentals and Techniques. However, for anyone—students, researchers, or practitioners—wanting to learn about general watermarking, image watermarking is probably the most straightforward way to start (you can see pictures!), and this book is a concise and good place to begin this task.

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