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Trying to get out in front of what they call a censorship arms race, a team of researchers has come up with technology that lets users exchange messages through heavily censored networks in countries such as China and North Korea in hidden channels via user-generated content sites such as Twitter or Flickr.
Researchers with the Georgia Tech School of Computer Science will demo the technology known as Collage for the first time at next month's Usenix security conference and ideally have a working package the public can download by the end of August. The researchers will have a test version of the Collage tool here.
Collage has two components: a message vector layer for embedding content in cover traffic; and a rendezvous mechanism to allow parties to publish and retrieve messages in the cover traffic, according to one of the Collage authors Sam Burnett, a researcher with Georgia Tech.
Technically speaking Collage is written in Python and uses an image steganography tool calledOutguess for hiding content in images and a text steganography tool called Snow for embedding content in text. "We recognize that steganography techniques offer no formal security guarantees; in fact, these schemes can and have been subject to various attacks," the researchers noted.
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