Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev have developed a new platform, "The Coucou Project," to protect against cyber-attacks launched through videos or pictures.
Last week, WikiLeaks released thousands of pages describing the CIA's sophisticated software tools and techniques to break into smartphones, computers and even internet-connected televisions.
Prof. Ofer Hadar, Chair of the Department of Communications Systems Engineering at BGU and head of the project, explained to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) the process of steganography and its use to launch cyber-attacks from even ordinary files.
"Steganography is the process of covertly inserting information and concealing data within files like photos or videos. Thus, the viewer does not detect anything specific or a reduction in quality, but there still remains something hidden," said Hadar.
Hadar explains that steganography has been used for protection of media copyrights (digital watermarking), but also allegedly by terror organizations to transfer almost undetectable messages to groups.
Video and picture downloads and video streaming account for 50% of internet traffic today and are expected to rise to 67% of web traffic by 2020.
"We are dealing nowadays with the use of steganography to insert malicious codes within videos and photos to attack the viewer. We have developed algorithms to find a solution to that problem in the 'compressed domain'. The idea is to manipulate the file's 'payload' to remove the malicious code without damaging the file quality," explained Hadar.
'Payload' represents parts of the transmitted data that is the intended message. This exclude 'headers' or 'metadata,' also part of the transmitted data, aimed at facilitating the 'payload' delivery.
He has dubbed it The Coucou Project and received significant funding from the Cyber Security Research Center at BGU, a joint initiative of the university and the Israeli National Cyber Bureau, to develop his protective solution.
In addition, the BaseCamp Innovation Center at the Advanced Technologies Park in Beersheva, adjacent to BGU, is interested in developing the platform into a startup, and students are currently enrolled in finding potential investors and clients, including within the security establishment.
Article reprinted with permission from TPS