Content and privacy protection in JPEG images by reversible visual transformation

Xin Cao, Yuxuan Huang, Hao Tian Wu*, Yiu Ming CHEUNG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


With the popularity of cloud computing and social networks, more and more JPEG images are stored and distributed. Consequently, how to protect privacy and content in JPEG images has become an important issue. Although traditional encryption schemes can be employed, the file format of JPEG images is changed so that their usage may be affected. In this paper, a reversible visual transformation algorithm is proposed to protect content in JPEG images. Specifically, the DC coefficient in each user-selected block is modified, while the information required to recover it is reversibly hidden into AC coefficients. Then the signs of AC coefficients in the selected blocks are flipped and the blocks are further scrambled with a secret key. By embedding the location information of the selected blocks in a transformed image, the original image can be exactly recovered when needed. Besides, regions to be protected can be arbitrarily chosen without substantially affecting the rest of the image. The experimental results on a set of JPEG images validate the efficacy and reversibility of the proposed algorithm. In addition, good performance is achieved in terms of invisibility of the protected content, image quality, file size preservation and security.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6776
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

User-Defined Keywords

  • Block scrambling
  • Privacy protection
  • Reversible data hiding
  • Social network
  • Visual encryption


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