Author Topic: Fascinated by Something...  (Read 9863 times)

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Offline HarvesteR

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2008, 08:37:34 pm »
ahh well, it makes more sense that way  ::)

steganographing the creature onto the picture always sounded a little insane for me... isn't that like... cold-war spy stuff?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 03:24:06 pm by HarvesteR »

Offline Ondaderthad

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2008, 09:20:41 pm »
Just to keep the record clean..

Stenography is the art of short hand writing.
Nothing to do with what we are discussing here.

The Data embedded in the Spore png pictures is called Steganography.

And yes it is the stuff used by cold war spies and others.

There was a conspiracy theory of terrorists embedding secret stuff in some eBay pictures.

For example here is a ordinary looking picture
and here is the hidden data in it

The difference between Steganography and other cryptography is that you need to know the original Key used to make the picture.


 


Offline Blulightning

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2008, 02:37:47 am »
Sigh......... I'm surprised so many of you are so close..... yet so far away.

The simple explanation:
They only need to save the coordinate numbers and "size" information of all your creature's pieces... and letting the computer generate the rest when you play the game.
This information stored is rather small and can be stored in very small files.

For anyone interested in the more precise explanation:
(Now, I'm not totally familiar with the PNG format, so some of this information might be slightly different)
(Otherwise, it is accurate for most image formats)

No, the data is NOT hidden in metadata.
The PNG's contain 3 sections of Image data, but that has nothing to do with the creature data.
Using 3 sections of image data allows the file's parts to be processed individually.... it's just a method used to allow slower computers to display parts of images before the entire image is downloaded.

As for the 'hidden data', it is stored with not only each pixel, but within each color of each pixel.
Computers interpret and display colors as red, blue, and green.
To store each color, takes 8 bits. To store each pixel, it takes 24 bits.
Now those 8 bits for each color, represent the numbers 0-255... which in turn represent hues (intensities) of that color.

Now, if you take real-life matters into hand, you are left with 256 intensities of a single color... the human eye can only distinguish between a fraction of those hues...
Which means, if you take the last bit (known as the "Least Significant Bit" or LSB) and wipe all of them out to 0.... you are left with an image, that according to the human eye, is exactly the same as the previous image.
(The trick here, is that you are only differientiating the colors by 1/256th of a hue... something that the human eye can not tell the difference between even when compared side by side)

Now, taking those LSB's, you can store 3 bits of information for each pixel stored.
To read the data back, you simply read only 8th bit within each pixel.

Not only that, but I've read that the creature files are utilizing "alpha channels" which in laymen's terms, are simply Transparent layers... Which again, obviously means absolutely nothing to the human eye.
Within these layers, you can again store more information within each byte (Byte = 8 bits) of the alpha channel.

I'm not completely familiar with image schematics, so i'm not sure how much data you can store within an alpha channel, whether it is the full byte, or again using only 1 of the 8 bits.

And that ends your lesson in image steganography.
Enjoy what little time you have left of the day.

I'm sorry to post so much, but I thought some of you guys might want to get your stories straight! ;)
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 02:49:02 am by Blulightning »

Offline DarkDragon

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2008, 03:54:55 am »
If you take a creature file and resave the png it only has one data section, the ones created by the CC have 3 and I have found no other PNGs that have more than 1.

Alpha channel is 1 byte.
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Offline Oshaberi

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2008, 10:18:56 am »
Oooooh, steganography! I should have thought about that, they did an episode of Numb3rs that used that as a main theme. *Nerd*  :P

Thanks guys.

Offline Blulightning

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2008, 10:46:58 am »
If you take a creature file and resave the png it only has one data section, the ones created by the CC have 3 and I have found no other PNGs that have more than 1.

Alpha channel is 1 byte.

I'm not going to bother checking, but the alpha channel is only 1 byte?
Maybe, they aren't using it then.... that's just what I heard when people started trying to break the code.

Offline DarkDragon

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2008, 02:37:32 pm »
If you take a creature file and resave the png it only has one data section, the ones created by the CC have 3 and I have found no other PNGs that have more than 1.

Alpha channel is 1 byte.

I'm not going to bother checking, but the alpha channel is only 1 byte?
Maybe, they aren't using it then.... that's just what I heard when people started trying to break the code.

Well, from what I can remember from my programming classes and my programming experience. When dealing with color and alpha you have 4 bytes, 1 for each R, G, B and A (alpha :P). But as you said, they don't need to use all the 255 values for each so lets say they use only 4 bits for R, G and B and 8 for A, you're left with 20 bits per pixel to store data.
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Offline HarvesteR

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2008, 03:26:22 pm »
ok i changed all the misspelled terms so they're correct now (steganography  ;) )

thanks for clearing that up...

as most of us, i'm just relaying information that i've read somewhere else... so a few bits may get lost in the transfer  ;)

Cheers

Offline Doomsday

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2008, 05:28:48 pm »
Just curious, but would it be theoretically possible to hide a virus or to store illicit information on? I suppose the success or failure of such a method would depend on how secure the CC was against outside content.
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Offline DarkDragon

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2008, 05:32:23 pm »
Just curious, but would it be theoretically possible to hide a virus or to store illicit information on? I suppose the success or failure of such a method would depend on how secure the CC was against outside content.

For a virus to be hidden like that you'd need a program that could read the data hidden and compile it, then execute it. Even if the code was already compiled you'd still need a program to execute it so opening the png itself would be harmless.
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Offline Doomsday

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2008, 05:41:00 pm »
Just curious, but would it be theoretically possible to hide a virus or to store illicit information on? I suppose the success or failure of such a method would depend on how secure the CC was against outside content.

For a virus to be hidden like that you'd need a program that could read the data hidden and compile it, then execute it. Even if the code was already compiled you'd still need a program to execute it so opening the png itself would be harmless.

I know, but if someone managed to get the CC itself to do all that work. The code and program is already there, it's just a matter of telling or tricking the program into compiling the file. It's not so much is it possible to hide that information, but is it possible to hide in such a way that the Creature Creator (or Spore itself) acts as an unknowning virus runner? I doubt it's possible but it's a slight concern that I've started to foster in my head.

Another possibility could be to have encoded .PNG files to act as sleeper agents, which will activate upon the release/running of a program at a later date. Like some worms or trojans do.

I know that, logically, the number of viruses that will be like this (if even possible) would be small, but I wouldn't want Spore associated with those negative aspects.
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Offline Blulightning

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2008, 01:10:16 am »
If you take a creature file and resave the png it only has one data section, the ones created by the CC have 3 and I have found no other PNGs that have more than 1.

Alpha channel is 1 byte.

I'm not going to bother checking, but the alpha channel is only 1 byte?
Maybe, they aren't using it then.... that's just what I heard when people started trying to break the code.

Well, from what I can remember from my programming classes and my programming experience. When dealing with color and alpha you have 4 bytes, 1 for each R, G, B and A (alpha :P). But as you said, they don't need to use all the 255 values for each so lets say they use only 4 bits for R, G and B and 8 for A, you're left with 20 bits per pixel to store data.

Ah yes, I was *REALLY* tired when I posted the information way up there.
Not to mention that I also don't have any expertise in image formats.... I'm a programmer, not an image editer person thing... lol...
So put two and two together and you have a messy rant about "steganography."

In any case, the simplicity is that they are storing information in every 8th bit, at the very least.

Also, I'd also like to address two things...

1. It's technically not steganography.
That term is used to mean there is a hidden data in a file, yet only the sender and receiver are aware of that data.
Seeing as how pretty much everyone who uses Spore is supposed to know that your data is within those .PNG files... well, that makes it NOT steganography.
Rather, it is cryptography using old tricks and methods of steganographers... it is data hidden within a file, with no intentions to hide the fact that there is data within the image.
... I had to do it, you know that right?

2. I can guarantee you 100% as a programmer, that it is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE for someone to hide a virus within the creature files and it be run on your machine.
ANY ATTEMPT at hiding a virus or any malicious code within one of the .PNG files would not only be very likely way too large to fit, but it would only ever result in a seemingly 'random' creature being produced.

Again, it is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to execute a virus on your computer from within Spore, with the original files.

Unless you go about doing something really stupid like downloading files on the internet from some shady sources to replace the original Spore game files, which could be viruses themselves, then it will never happen.
So... my advice is, just don't go download viruses and you'll be fine.

Offline immortius

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2008, 02:30:12 am »
It is generally impossible to have an image virus, although there was a flaw in Windows image viewer that made it possible a while back until it was patched. It is highly unlikely that Spore would have such a flaw.

Spore and the CC do not compile and execute these images in any way, they read data out and then use their own algorithms to recreate creature/buildings/whatever from them.  This is quite safe if done correctly and it shouldn't be possible for it to be exploited.


Offline LoneStarSage

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2008, 10:10:24 am »

Now, if you take real-life matters into hand, you are left with 256 intensities of a single color... the human eye can only distinguish between a fraction of those hues...
Which means, if you take the last bit (known as the "Least Significant Bit" or LSB) and wipe all of them out to 0.... you are left with an image, that according to the human eye, is exactly the same as the previous image.
(The trick here, is that you are only differientiating the colors by 1/256th of a hue... something that the human eye can not tell the difference between even when compared side by side)

PNG is supposed to be a lossless format.   Does that mean that by storing this data on the png they are essentially making it a lossy image?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 02:28:20 pm by LoneStarSage »

Offline smjjames

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Re: Fascinated by Something...
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2008, 10:14:45 am »
huh? I don't know what you mean by a lossy image, but it seems like what they meant is that it doesn't lose data.