Secret message sharing using online social media

Jianxia Ning, Indrajeet Singh, Harsha V. Madhyastha, Srikanth V. Krishnamurthy, Guohong Cao, Prasant Mohapatra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

17 Scopus citations


Recently, there have been proposals to evade censors by using steganography to embed secret messages in images shared on public photo-sharing sites. However, establishing a covert channel in this manner is not straightforward. First, photo-sharing sites often process uploaded images, thus destroying any embedded message. Second, prior work assumes the existence of an out-of-band channel, using which the communicating users can exchange metadata or secret keys a priori; establishing such out-of-band channels, not monitored by censors, is difficult. In this paper, we address these issues to facilitate private communications on photo-sharing sites. In doing so, first, we conduct an in-depth measurement study of the feasibility of hiding data on four popular photo-sharing sites. Second, based on the understanding derived, we propose a novel approach for embedding secret messages in uploaded photos while preserving the integrity of such messages. We demonstrate that, despite the processing on photo-sharing sites, our approach ensures reliable covert communication, without increasing the likelihood of being detected via steganalysis. Lastly, we design and implement a scheme for bootstrapping private communications without an out-of-band channel, i.e., by exchanging keys via uploaded images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2014 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security, CNS 2014
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781479958900
StatePublished - Dec 23 2014
Event2014 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security, CNS 2014 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Oct 29 2014Oct 31 2014

Publication series

Name2014 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security, CNS 2014


Other2014 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security, CNS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications


Dive into the research topics of 'Secret message sharing using online social media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this