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Binghamton researcher awarded patent

Jessica Fridrich’s reliable technique for detecting steganography — messages hidden in digital pictures and other computer files — is among a number of innovative patents recently issued to The Research Foundation of State University of New York.

“What makes steganography so poten-tially dangerous is that not only is the message encrypted, but you don’t even know that it is being sent. Obviously, the ability to detect such communication would be helpful to ensuring national security and preventing industrial espionage,” said Fridrich, a research professor in electrical and computer engineering and expert in steganography and steganalysis. Her work has helped to establish a new laboratory dedicated to advancing digital watermarking and other steganographic techniques.

Through steganography, a message such as a picture or text can be embedded in a digital photograph or other computer file in such a way that even the presence of such a message is hidden.

“Fridrich and her research team are developing innovations that keep business safe and dramatically improve the nation’s ability to blunt or deter terrorist threats to the United States,” said State University of New York Chancellor Robert L. King.

The detection method and system, awarded U.S. patent 6,831,991 on Dec. 14, involves using steganalysis — performing statistical analysis on the file in question — to detect the presence of embedded information. The technique finds the attempt at secret communication and also indicates the size of the information that is hidden. The invention, by Fridrich and Miroslav Goljan, research scientist of electrical and computer engineering, was made with support from the U.S. Air Force.

Patents for inventions that result from sponsored research are awarded to the Research Foundation of SUNY, which is responsible for protecting the intellectual property and commercializing the tech-nologies for public benefit through its Technology Transfer central office in Albany and satellite offices at the four university centers.

“These patents illustrate the breadth and depth of ideas and discoveries that SUNY faculty are developing to help industry harness next-generation ideas, launch new ventures in key emerging business areas and spur economic development in New York State,” said King.

“Technology transfer is a critical mission for the Research Foundation, which protects and licenses SUNY faculty innovations,” said Vice Chancellor John J. O’Connor, president of The Research Foundation. “The Research Foundation is a key component in generating new economic activity by ensuring SUNY innovations become tomorrow’s new technologies and commercial ventures.” The State University of New York ranks in the top 20 of U.S. patent-generating educational institutions. As of the end of fiscal 2004, more than 700 patents have been issued to the Research Foundation as a result of sponsored program activity, with inventions generating almost $13.4 million in royalties in fiscal 2004.

According to the latest data available from the Association of University Technology Managers, the State University of New York is ahead of research universities such as the University of Michigan and John Hopkins University for royalties earned on inventions.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08