IEEE Trans Neural Netw Learn Syst. 2022 Jun 9;PP. doi: 10.1109/TNNLS.2022.3175627. Online ahead of print.
Steganography is an important and prevailing information hiding tool to perform secret message transmission in an open environment. Existing steganography methods can mainly fall into two categories: predefined rule-based and data-driven methods. The former is susceptible to the statistical attack, while the latter adopts the deep convolution neural networks to promote security. However, deep learning-based methods suffer from perceptible artificial artifacts or deep steganalysis. In this article, we introduce a novel composition-aware image steganography (CAIS) to guarantee both visual security and resistance to deep steganalysis through the self-generated supervision. The key innovation is an adversarial composition estimation module, which has integrated the rule-based composition method and generative adversarial network to help synthesize steganographic images with more naturalness. We first perform a rule-based image blending method to obtain infinite synthetically data-label pairs. Then, we utilize an adversarial composition estimation branch to recognize the message feature pattern from the composite image based on these self-generated data-label pairs. Through the adversarial training, we force the steganography function to synthesize steganographic images, which can fool the composition estimation network. Thus, the proposed CAIS can achieve better information hiding and higher security to resist deep steganalysis. Furthermore, an effective global-and-part checking is designed to alleviate visual artifacts caused by hiding secret information. We conduct a comprehensive analysis of CAIS from various aspects (, security and robustness) to verify the superior performance of the proposed method. Comprehensive experimental results on three large-scale widely used datasets have demonstrated the superior performance of our CAIS compared with several state-of-the-art approaches.