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New Technology Thwarts Image Thieves Using… Sudoku?



A Malaysian researcher may have dealt a major blow to image thieves by using the mathematical formulas behind Sudoku puzzles to create hidden, super-strong watermarks.

Information security specialist Shamsul Khalid of the University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia was looking for a more robust way to identify and protect digital images when he realized a flexible mathematical base was staring right at him from the newspaper puzzle page.

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Khalid and colleagues overlaid evenly distributed 9×9 Sudoku puzzles across several dozen images. The puzzles, invisible to the human eye, wreaked havoc with Web programs that crop and distort copyrighted images to aid unauthorized distribution.

The puzzles defeated 94 percent of image-stealing bots, with reliability increasing further when puzzles were expanded to a 16×16 grid. Current anti-cropping watermarks top out at around 75 percent reliability.

Khalid presented his research in a paper published by the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing. No word yet on when or how the technology might be incorporated into a usable product.

(via Red Orbit)

Image credit: Sudoku by Steve Rhodes and Large copyright graffiti… by Horia Varlan