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Scrambled Text Recovery with Photoshop

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Tagged As: Hacking and Privacy

We've all seen those movie and television scenes where a garbled or heavily pixelated imaged is on he computer screen and the heroes say, "enhance" whereupon the picture is magically cleaned up and the bad guys are caught. All the computer geeks scoff knowing that if data wasn't there it simply isn't there, despite shifting uncomfortably in our seats and telling our non-geeky friends, "sure, I can do that ... but it takes waaaay longer than that." One nerd has come up with a home brewed de-obfuscation trick for pixelated text recovery using nothing more than javascript and Photoshop CS3. In a fashion similar to brute-force password cracking, he loops through segments of the obfuscated text applying a mosaic filter and comparing the difference against known patterns of pixelation. Mathematically assigning point scores, the loop covers the entire string and attempts to find the cleartext with the lowest difference score.

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