The Design and Implementation of a Steganographic Communication System over In-Band Acoustical Channels

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Author(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
Journal / PublicationACM Transactions on Sensor Networks
Volume19
Issue number4
Online publishedJul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Abstract

This article presents SoundSticker, a system for steganographic, in-band data communication over an acoustic channel. In contrast with recent works that hide bits in inaudible frequency bands, SoundSticker embeds hidden bits in the audible sounds, making them more reliably survive audio codecs and bandpass filtering, while achieving a higher data rate and remaining imperceptible to a listener. The key observation behind SoundSticker is that the human ear is less sensitive to the audio phase changes than the frequency and amplitude changes, which leaves us an opportunity to alter the phase of an audio clip to convey hidden information. We take advantage of this opportunity and build an OFDM-based physical layer. To make this PHY-layer design work for a variety of end devices with heterogeneous computation resources, SoundSticker addresses multiple technical challenges including perceivable waveform artifacts caused by the phase-based modulation, bit rate adaptation without channel sounding and real-time preamble detection. Our prototype on both smartphones and ESP32 platforms demonstrates SoundSticker’s superior performance against the state of the arts, while preserving excellent sound quality and remaining unaffected by common audio codecs like MP3 and AAC. Audio clips produced by SoundSticker can be found at https://soundsticker.github.io/. © 2023 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM.

Research Area(s)

  • Acoustics, Mobile phones, Embedded boards, Microphones, Communications, Real-time systems

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.