A study on the security levels of spread-spectrum embedding schemes in the WOA framework

Yuan Gen Wang, Guopu Zhu, Sam Kwong, Yun Qing Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Security analysis is a very important issue for digital watermarking. Several years ago, according to Kerckhoffs' principle, the famous four security levels, namely insecurity, key security, subspace security, and stego-security, were defined for spread-spectrum (SS) embedding schemes in the framework of watermarked-only attack. However, up to now there has been little application of the definition of these security levels to the theoretical analysis of the security of SS embedding schemes, due to the difficulty of the theoretical analysis. In this paper, based on the security definition, we present a theoretical analysis to evaluate the security levels of five typical SS embedding schemes, which are the classical SS, the improved SS (ISS), the circular extension of ISS, the nonrobust and robust natural watermarking, respectively. The theoretical analysis of these typical SS schemes are successfully performed by taking advantage of the convolution of probability distributions to derive the probabilistic models of watermarked signals. Moreover, simulations are conducted to illustrate and validate our theoretical analysis. We believe that the theoretical and practical analysis presented in this paper can bridge the gap between the definition of the four security levels and its application to the theoretical analysis of SS embedding schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2307-2320
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cybernetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Kerckhoffs' principle
  • security analysis
  • spread-spectrum (SS) embedding
  • watermarked-only attack (WOA)


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