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An App That Hides Secret Messages in Starcraft-Style Games


A scene from StarCraft II.

Researchers are developing a tool they believe will be able to send encoded messages using real-time strategy computer games, like StarCraft II, to circumvent online censorship tools.

Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Stony Brook University researchers are developing a prototype tool they believe will be able to send encoded messages using real-time strategy computer games to circumvent online censorship tools in countries such as China.

The researchers recently published their stealth tool, dubbed Castle, on GitHub. Castle takes advantage of several traits common to online strategy games, such as StarCraft and Company of Heroes, that make them potentially ideal for steganography applications.

The useful features of online strategy games include the ability for players to connect directly with one another and the use of encryption to prevent cheating. Castle users would communicate with the tool by loading a custom map and then using Castle to encode a message in the form of specific actions in the game. The actions would leave behind a string of commands recorded in the game's log, which then can be decoded using Castle. The researchers say that to any online censors this exchange would appear like a normal game.

So far, Castle has achieved communications bandwidths of up to 1.5 kilobits a second, enough to send emails or share articles.

From Wired News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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