Dr. Scott Craver, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Binghamton University, is investigating the development of detectors that are resistant to exploitation for an adversary's algorithms.
Craver and his research team, funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), are also investigating audio, image and video fingerprinting, which embed an imperceptible label in a media file that can later identify that file's history.
The scientists, for the most part, use computer simulations and their work is theoretically-based. They design proof-of-concept software to illustrate their techniques, including the concealment of encrypted messages in computer animations and video and audio clips.
In addition, they made breakthroughs in simultaneously deciphering a watermarking algorithm and created new ways to reverse-engineer detectors.
"One technique takes advantage of the fact that some kinds of watermarks survive huge amounts of noise while others do not," Craver noted. The scientists turn this technique into a generic algorithm that determines the watermark's size, signal power and detector false alarm rate.
They also created channels that are resistant to any level of detection. However, even with their successes, there are still problems to solve and those will be the basis of future research.
Craver emphasized, "Detection today is a cat-and-mouse game, with adversaries changing their behavior and detectors altering their algorithms. There is no clear winner and no guaranteed way for either party to beat the other."
In spite of the challenges inherent in the research, Craver and his team are optimistic they will get the results they want, and when that happens they should be able to develop new detectors that are more resistant to attack than their counterparts are today.
"We think that with the right mathematical foundations, detection problems can be settled once and for all," he acknowledged.
For his breakthrough work, AFOSR has nominated Craver for the prestigious PECASE Award. The United States government will present the award to only 100 researchers in the early stages of their careers this fall in Washington, D.C.
Craver admits he is thrilled and humbled by the magnitude of the honor. "I am also deeply relieved to know that I can continue to fund doctoral students, and to bring new students into the research as well. I am also pleased that I can finally pursue a research effort that I have been planning for some time," he said.
AFOSR continues to expand the horizon of basic science research through its management of Craver's program, which advances communications and computer forensics' technology.