http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992506 18:43 04 July 02 Will Knight NewScientist.com news service An international group of "hacktivists" says it is about to release a computer program designed to let political dissidents communicate via the internet without fear of government eavesdropping. Hacktivismo, an international group of programmers and activists, says the program, named Camera/Shy, will make it simple to bury encrypted information in innocuous-looking images that can then be shared over the internet. Those with the same program will then be able to automatically detect and extract concealed information. Anyone monitoring the internet for subversive activity will only see apparently ordinary images. Hacktivismo says Camera/Shy will also use encryption, suggesting keys will be needed to reveal secret information in full. Founder Hacktivismo member, Oxblood Ruffin says: "Although not all of us are Americans, we share the fundamental ideals of the Constitution of the United States, especially freedom of speech. Camera/Shy is a small first step in sharing that privilege." Keeping quiet A technology called steganography allows data to be embedded in the digital information comprising an image file. This is accomplished by altering relatively unimportant bits so that the changed image remains identical to the naked eye. The information is concealed using a key. While it may be possible to detect that an image has been modified to contain information, without the key it is impossible to extract that information. Hacktivismo says Camera/Shy has been designed for "non-technical users" and will be similar to any normal internet browser. But it will automatically scan web pages for images containing steganographic data. The program has been designed to work with any Microsoft operating system running Internet Explorer 5 or later. It should also leave no trace of browsing activity on a user's computer, according to Hacktivismo. Peter Honeyman, an expert in image steganography at the University of Michigan, says steganography offers an alternative to encryption. The latter also keeps the contents of a message private, but does not try to hide its existence. "If you want the contents of a message to be private, you just use cryptography," he told New Scientist. "If you want the container of a message to also be unknown you use steganography." Honeyman says existing steganography cannot be completely undetectable and adds that the key used to hide messages in images can be revealed with brute force computing power. But he adds that communications could be made more secure by creating images that appear to contain steganographic data, but which in fact contain no information. Hacktivismo says Camera/Shy will be released at the computer security convention H2K2 in New York City, on 13 July. The group is sponsored by the US computer hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow, which has previewed another program designed to beat government surveillance, called Peek-a-booty. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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