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Ohm

Spore uses steganography tactics

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http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/06/16/h...ore-hiding.html

The creature data for spore is actually being distributed within the thumbnail picture of the creature itself. Alpha channel values of the background vary between 0 and 1, probably a straight dump of (or serialization of) the internal creature description data files. No real attempt to hide it, it's not supposed to be hidden it's just supposed to be handy and clever. They could even encode even more data by varying the completely opaque areas between 255 and 254. All other alpha values would have to be ignored by the decoder.

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I love using the meta data stored in JPEG images (camera make/model, shutter speed, light settings, etc) but storing more information through steganography would be awesome. Geo. location, tags/keywords, published URL, public comments, yatta yatta. This opens up a whole new way of making image files awesome for me. Sounds like a call for an open standard :D

Is anyone else doing this or was EA Maxis the first?

Tenchi

Edited by Tenchi
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Is anyone else doing this or was EA the first?

Tenchi

EA is just the distributer, Maxis is the developer

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EA is just the distributer, Maxis is the developer

<3 Maxis! Sorry poor research

Edited by Tenchi
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I love using the meta data stored in JPEG images (camera make/model, shutter speed, light settings, etc) but storing more information through steganography would be awesome. Geo. location, tags/keywords, published URL, public comments, yatta yatta. This opens up a whole new way of making image files awesome for me. Sounds like a call for an open standard :D

Is anyone else doing this or was EA Maxis the first?

Tenchi

It's a specialized clever hack. Doing something like this in a "normal" image file you expect to be manipulated in any way just means the data will be lost easily. A single crop, color adjustment, etc will wipe out whatever data you had in there. The only reason it works so well in Spore is that a) there's a large, contiguous white area that's used to encode the data and B) these files will never be manipulated in their normal usage. It is completely awesome that sending someone a picture of your creature allows them to import it into their game, but I don't see many practical, everyday uses fro the steganography portion. I believe there are a few unused or free-form chunks in the PNG specification that can be used to bundle data with your images as well. No idea if these sections are supported or break the most popular implementations though.

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Doing something like this in a "normal" image file you expect to be manipulated in any way just means the data will be lost easily.

You're right, and JPEG meta data is lost easily too. Bum.

I believe there are a few unused or free-form chunks in the PNG specification that can be used to bundle data with your images as well. No idea if these sections are supported or break the most popular implementations though.

Woot possible project!

Tenchi

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I just had an idea. Hiding information inside the thumbnail image for Open Office documents (.odt)

That's like double-steganography right there, since you can extract the contents of a .odt file with winrar.

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The irony of hiding text inside an image embedded in a text document is delicious. Just embed a transparent image that doesn't show up in the document and hide data in that. Or better yet, an image that's part of the document, that would arouse even less suspicion.

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So taking a screenshot of the image and sending that would fail, right?

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So taking a screenshot of the image and sending that would fail, right?

Depends on the image, if the image or the screenshot is scaled and how the screenshot is compressed. If the data is encoded in the alpha channel it'll most likely be lost. If it's in a color channel and you take a screenshot of it and the screenshot is compressed losslessly and not resized, it'll be fine.

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