by Martin Harran, William Farrelly & Kevin Curran
Due to their massive popularity, image files, especially JPEG, offer high potential as carriers of other information. Much of the work to date on this has focused on steganographic ways of hiding information using least significant bit techniques but we believe that the findings in this project have exposed other ways of doing this. We demonstrate that a digital certificate relating to an image file can be inserted inside that image file along with accompanying metadata containing references to the issuing company. Notwithstanding variations between devices and across operating systems and applications, a JPEG file holds its structure very well. Where changes do take place, this is generally in the metadata area and does not affect the encoded image data which is the heart of the file and the part that needs to be verifiable. References to the issuing company can be inserted into the metadata for the file. There is an advantage of having the digital certificate as an integral part of the file to which it applies and consequently travelling with the file. We ultimately prove that the metadata within a file offers the potential to include data that can be used to prove integrity, authenticity and provenance of the digital content within the file.