A novel and easy method to embed any form of secret messages into a cover image with controlled distortion is proposed. Any lossy image compressor may be applied first to a cover image to produce a lossily-processed result as the basis for embedding data in the cover image. The stego-image is produced by embedding data in each pixel of a cover image by changing its gray value without excessing the range of the gray value difference of the corresponding pixels of the cover image and its lossily-processed one. The quantity of distortion that is caused by embedding data is never in excess of that is caused by the lossy compressor. A multiple-based number system is proposed to convert the information in the secret bit stream into values to be embedded in the choosing pixels of the cover image. Pseudo-random mechanisms may be used to achieve cryptography. It is found from experiments that the values of the peaks of the signal-to-noise ratio of the stego-images are larger than those yielded by the chosen compressor, which means that the distortion in the embedding result is more imperceptible than that in the compressed one.
IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics 44 (4): 1406-1412