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: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


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
Pages (from-to)2307-2320
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cybernetics
Issue number8
Early online date23 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant 61672443, Grant 61672554, and Grant 61572489, in part by the Hong Kong RGC General Research Fund under Grant 9042038 and Grant CityU 11205314, in part by the NSF of Guangdong Province under Grant 2014A030310112, in part by the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences under Grant 2015299, and in part by the Science and Technology Plan Project of Guangdong Province under Grant 2016B010124014.


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


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