Researchers use digital watermarks to protect medical images

To prevent medical image tampering, a team of researchers has created an alert system that uses digital watermarks to determine image authenticity, reports.

The researchers, whose work was published in the Journal of Digital Imaging, said that as medical images increasingly go digital, the likelihood those images will be compromised grows.

"Medical images contain sensitive information, and when they are transmitted over the open network, they become vulnerable to corruption by noisy transmission channels and attacks by hackers or individuals with malicious intents," co-author Chueh Loo Poh, Ph.D., said, according to AuntMinnie.

"These attacks may include obtaining private information about the patient, changing patient information in the image header, and tampering with the image pixel content."

The scheme, Poh said, involves reversible watermarking that takes advantage of 3-D properties of volumetric medical images. Areas in such images that are tampered with will be highlighted when viewed.

To test the system's accuracy, the researchers tampered with two pixels in random locations in four watermarked images. The localization rate for detection was 100 percent.

"The improved processing time makes the proposed scheme a more viable solution than to directly and iteratively apply a 2-D method for securing 3-D DICOM medical images in real-life medical environments," the researchers said.

To learn more:
- here's the article (registration required)
- check out the study's abstract

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