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PSO–Blockchain-based image steganography: towards a new method to secure updating and sharing COVID-19 data in decentralised hospitals intelligence architecture

  • Mohsin, A. H.1, 2
  • Zaidan, A. A.1
  • Zaidan, B. B.1
  • Mohammed, K. I.1
  • Albahri, O. S.1
  • Albahri, A. S.1, 3
  • Alsalem, M. A.1
  • 1 Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris,
  • 2 Republic of Iraq-Presidency of Ministries - Establishment of Martyrs, Baghdad, Iraq
  • 3 Informatics Institute for Postgraduate Studies (IIPS), Iraqi Commission for Computers and Informatics (ICCI), Baghdad, Iraq
Published Article
Multimedia Tools and Applications
Publication Date
Jan 22, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11042-020-10284-y
PMID: 33519293
PMCID: PMC7821848
PubMed Central
  • Article


Secure updating and sharing for large amounts of healthcare information (such as medical data on coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) in efficient and secure transmission are important but challenging in communication channels amongst hospitals. In particular, in addressing the above challenges, two issues are faced, namely, those related to confidentiality and integrity of their health data and to network failure that may cause concerns about data availability. To the authors’ knowledge, no study provides secure updating and sharing solution for large amounts of healthcare information in communication channels amongst hospitals. Therefore, this study proposes and discusses a novel steganography-based blockchain method in the spatial domain as a solution. The novelty of the proposed method is the removal and addition of new particles in the particle swarm optimisation (PSO) algorithm. In addition, hash function can hide secret medical COVID-19 data in hospital databases whilst providing confidentiality with high embedding capacity and high image quality. Moreover, stego images with hash data and blockchain technology are used in updating and sharing medical COVID-19 data between hospitals in the network to improve the level of confidentiality and protect the integrity of medical COVID-19 data in grey-scale images, achieve data availability if any connection failure occurs in a single point of the network and eliminate the central point (third party) in the network during transmission. The proposed method is discussed in three stages. Firstly, the pre-hiding stage estimates the embedding capacity of each host image. Secondly, the secret COVID-19 data hiding stage uses PSO algorithm and hash function. Thirdly, the transmission stage transfers the stego images based on blockchain technology and updates all nodes (hospitals) in the network. As proof of concept for the case study, the authors adopted the latest COVID-19 research published in the Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine journal, which presents a rescue framework within hospitals for the storage and transfusion of the best convalescent plasma to the most critical patients with COVID-19 on the basis of biological requirements. The validation and evaluation of the proposed method are discussed.

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