Definition –

Steganography is data hidden within data. Steganography is an encryption technique that can be used along with cryptography as an extra-secure method in which to protect data.

The word steganography is derived from the Greek words steganos(meaning hidden or covered) and the Greek root graph (meaning to write).

Steganography techniques can be applied to images, a video file or an audio file. The content to be concealed through steganography -- called hidden text -- is often encrypted before being incorporated into the innocuous-seeming cover text file or data stream. A variety of tools have been created to use steganography to hide files within other files on computers. Generally, steganography tools can be classified into image, audio, and/or network steganography tools.

Steganography is practiced by those wishing to send a secret message or code. While there are many ways uses for steganography, malware developers have also been found to use steganography to obscure the transmission of malicious code.

One use of steganography includes watermarking which hides copyright information within a watermark by overlaying files not easily detected by the naked eye.

Data is first encrypted in some other way and then inserted, using a special algorithm, into data that is part of a particular file format such as a JPEG image, audio or video file. The secret message can be embedded into ordinary data files in many different ways.

Steganography is distinct from cryptography, but using both together can help improve the security of the protected information and prevent detection of the secret communication. If steganographically-hidden data is also encrypted, the data may still be safe from detection -- though the channel will no longer be safe from detection.

Tools for stegnography:

Xiao Steganography

SSuite Picsel






The advantage of steganography over cryptography alone is that the intended secret message does not attract attention to itself as an object of scrutiny. Plainly visible encrypted messages, no matter how unbreakable they are, arouse interest and may in themselves be incriminating in countries in which encryption is illegal.

Whereas cryptography is the practice of protecting the contents of a message alone, steganography is concerned both with concealing the fact that a secret message is being sent and its contents.

Their goal is five-fold: scouting the target, scanning it, gaining access, staying undetected, and covering their tracks.

Information hiding can also be used by an attacker during different attack stages depending on what information is being hidden:

o Identities. The identities of communicating parties are hidden by anonymization techniques.

o Communication. The fact that a communication is taking place is hidden by steganography techniques. The characteristics of a network conversation (for example, a packet flow) can be concealed using traffic-type obfuscation methods.

o Content. Hiding the content of data but not the transmission or presence of the data itself is achieved by applying cryptographic algorithms.

o Code. The structure of (executable) code is hidden by (binary) code obfuscation and masquerading techniques.

Pure Steganography does not require the exchange of a cipher such as a stego-key. It assumes that no other party is aware of the communication.

Secret key Steganography where the secret (stego) key is exchanged prior to communication. This is most susceptible to interception. Secret Key Steganography takes a cover message and embeds the secret message inside of it by using a secret key (stego-key). Only the parties who know the secret key can reverse the process and read the secret message.

Public key Steganography where a public key and a private key is used for secure Communication. The sender will use the public key during the encoding process and only the private key, which has a direct mathematical relationship with the public key, can decipher the secret message.

Image Steganography is used to hide a secret message inside an image. The most widely used technique to hide secret bit inside the LSB of the cover image. Because this method uses bits of each pixel in the image.

Audio stenography can conceal the secret message in the audio file with the help of its digital representation. It can be achieved easily as a typical 16-bit file has 216 sound levels, and a few levels difference could not be detectable by the human ear

Video Steganography brings more possibilities of disguising a large amount of data because it is a combination of image and sound. Therefore, image and audio Steganography techniques can also be employed on the video.

Text Steganography can be applied to different types of media including text, audio, image and video etc. However, text Steganography is considered to be the most difficult kind of Steganography due to lack of redundancy in text as compared to image or audio but still has smaller memory occupation and simpler communication.

An Ethical hacker should know the penalties of unauthorized hacking into a system. Read more at: Legality and Ethics

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