Development of an efficient steganalysis framework for uncovering hidden data in digital media (UNCOVER)
Criminals and terrorists use more and more data hiding methods (steganography) for concealing incriminating information in innocent-looking digital media files such as images, video, audio, and text files. UNCOVERs main objective is to fill existing gaps in the ability of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) for detecting the presence of such hidden information (i.e. steganalysis). To carry out a full investigation into criminal and terrorist activities, LEAs currently use available (commercial) tools to detect hidden information in collected digital media. However, these tools detect only a limited number of hiding methods, are slow, and offer no indication of confidence. Moreover, many commercial tools lag a decade behind the scientific state-of-the-art. The members of UNCOVER are committed to bridge these gaps and thus substantially increase the technological autonomy of LEAs in the field of digital media steganalysis. With its consortium of 22 partners including LEAs, forensic institutes, leading researchers working at universities and research institutions, as well as industrial companies, UNCOVER sets out to outperform available steganalysis solutions in terms of performance (number of detectable steganographic methods, detection accuracy), usability, operational needs, privacy protection, and chain-of-custody considerations. The developed detection and investigation tools will be integrated into a flexible and user-friendly platform. End-users play a key role throughout the project cycle: from proposal writing over analysis of user requirements and tools development through the final evaluation. In particular, regular feedback cycles with LEAs, forensics institutes and external stakeholders will ensure that the developed solutions can be integrated into the daily criminal investigation pipeline of LEAs. A set of clearly defined Key Performance Indicators allows an objective evaluation of progress and end results against the defined objectives.