mID: Tracing Screen Photos via Moiré Patterns


Yushi Cheng, Xiaoyu Ji, Lixu Wang, and Qi Pang, Zhejiang University; Yi-Chao Chen, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Wenyuan Xu, Zhejiang University


Cyber-theft of trade secrets has become a serious business threat. Digital watermarking is a popular technique to assist in identifying the source of the file leakage, whereby a unique watermark for each insider is hidden in sensitive files. However, malicious insiders may use their smartphones to photograph the secret file displayed on screens to remove the embedded hidden digital watermarks due to the optical noises introduced during photographing. To identify the leakage source despite such screen photo-based leakage attacks, we leverage Moiré pattern, an optical phenomenon resulted from the optical interaction between electronic screens and cameras. As such, we present mID, a new watermark-like technique that can create a carefully crafted Moiré pattern on the photo when it is taken towards the screen. We design patterns that appear to be natural yet can be linked to the identity of the leaker. We implemented mID and evaluate it with 5 display devices and 6 smartphones from various manufacturers and models. The results demonstrate that mID can achieve an average bit error rate (BER) of 0.6% and can successfully identify an ID with an average accuracy of 96%, with little influence from the type of display devices, cameras, IDs, and ambient lights.

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@inproceedings {272116,
author = {Yushi Cheng and Xiaoyu Ji and Lixu Wang and Qi Pang and Yi-Chao Chen and Wenyuan Xu},
title = {{mID}: Tracing Screen Photos via {Moir{\'e}} Patterns},
booktitle = {30th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 21)},
year = {2021},
isbn = {978-1-939133-24-3},
pages = {2969--2986},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity21/presentation/cheng-yushi},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,

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