[ISN] 'Hacktivists' to release covert communications tool

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 04:21:50 PDT

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    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
    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.
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