Steganographically hiding secret messages in fake fingerprints

In Towards Construction Based Data Hiding: From Secrets to Fingerprint Images , published in IEEE Transactions on Image Processing (Sci-Hub Mirror), two Fudan University computer scientists propose a fascinating method for hiding encrypted messages in fake fingerprints that are both visually and computationally difficult to distinguish from real ones, which could theoretically allow the use of fingerprint databases to convey secret messages. Read the rest

Encoding text with GM bacteria

Science Now reports on a project from David Walt (Tufts) and George Whitesides (Harvard) to come up with a steganographic text-encoding scheme that uses bacteria to encode messages and selective antibiotics to reveal them. It was conceived of in response to a DARPA challenge to devise non-electrical text-encoding, but its applications include adding text-based information to GM crops that can be read in the field (or in the market) to determine what's being grown.

The new scheme replaces the fuse with seven colonies of Escherichia coli bacteria, each given a gene for a different fluorescent protein. When, and only when, these genes are turned on do the bacteria make these proteins and light up. The colors, including yellow, green, and red, vary based on which gene is expressed. All are clearly visibly different to the naked eye. With their colorful bacterial colonies in hand, the researchers then created a code using pairs of different colored bacteria. Having seven colors gave them 49 combinations, which they used to encode the 26 different letters and 23 alphanumeric symbols such as "@" and "$." They wrote a message by simply blotting pairs of colored bacteria in rows. To "print" the message, the researchers transferred the bacteria onto a plate containing agar, a bacterial growth medium, into which they pressed a sheet of nitrocellulose "paper" that immobilizes the bacteria.

At this point, the bacteria on the nitrocellulose paper remain invisible. But the message receiver can turn on the key genes and make the colors light up by pressing the nitrocellulose paper into an agar plate containing a chemical trigger that activates expression of the fluorescent proteins.

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Syrian dissidents use donkeys to smuggle videos to Jordan

Syrian dissidents are smuggling out videos of government crackdown atrocities using donkeys and old smuggler's routes into Jordan:

But desperate Syrians have been using a helping hand from smugglers to cross the border, either by walking or on the backs of donkeys, according to residents from Ramtha. Locals have centuries if not millennia of experience eluding officials.

"The two cities are connected more than anyone could think. For hundreds of years, the residents of Ramtha and Dara'a have been moving between the two towns easily through the farms and desert area. Now they rediscovered these ancient routes," says Ahmed Kareem, a Jordanian taxi driver from Ramtha.

Donkeys Take Over From DSL as Syria Shuts Down Internet

(via /.)

(Image: 2009-09-16 at 11-33-01, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from rickmanwaring's photostream) Read the rest