Steganography is the art of hiding a secret inside information. The literal meaning is “covered writing”. Images are one of the popular sources of hiding secret information. Presented below is a basic functional diagram of a steganography system that works on images.
The process involves the following parts:
The secret is hidden inside the image such that there is no visible change in the image including its size. Following are some of the key areas in which steganography is currently used:
Tokenization is a method in which the sensitive data is converted into tokenized data. Many banking applications use this method to protect the user’s credit card information. A typical flow is:
The tokenization server needs to give back the original data to authorized applications. For this, it either needs to maintain the tokenized to original data mapping or at least tokenized data to key (the key from which the original data was tokenized) mapping. This imposes security issues on the tokenization server itself for the stored data. Currently, most of the applications store this as encrypted data to protect it.
Steganography can come to help here and can make the tokenization server free from storing any such data. In most cases, the data which needs to be tokenized belongs to a user and hence it also has a user image (for e.g. the photo of a user who owns the bank’s credit card). In such cases, this mapping itself can be stored in the user’s image itself freeing up tokenization server from storing any data.
Presented below is a typical architecture for a Tokenization Server. Note that the tokenization server maintains the encrypted database to store the mapping of tokenized data to original data.
The typical message flow is:
Presented below is the modified architecture with steganography. Note that the tokenization server does not maintain any encrypted database at its end and uses a steganography server.
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