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Steganography is a method of hiding secret information within (or even on top of) a non-secret document or another medium to prevent detection. Steganos means “covered” or “hidden,” and graph means “to write.” As a result, “hidden writing” was coined.

Steganography can be used to conceal text, video, photos, and even audio data. It’s a useful piece of information, limited only by the author’s imagination and the type of medium.

Historical Background

Steganography is the art of hiding a hidden message within regular communication. It comes from two Greek words: Steganos, which means “covered,” and graphic, which means “writing.” Steganography is an ancient practice that has been used in many forms to keep conversations hidden for thousands of years.

The first use of steganography dates back to 440 BC when people in ancient Greece scribbled messages on wood and covered it with wax, which served as a covering medium. Romans utilized various types of invisible inks, and light or heat was used to decode the hidden secrets.

Microdots, which were complete documents, photos, and plans reduced to the size of a dot and affixed to standard documentation, were introduced by the Germans during World War II. Null Ciphers were also employed to conceal unencrypted hidden messages within a seemingly ordinary communication. We now have a plethora of current steganographic techniques and tools to ensure that our information remains private. Steganography and cryptography are not the same things. they are two distinct concepts.

What Are Some Examples of Steganography?

Steganography breaks down into five types:

Text Steganography

This style of steganography involves employing white spaces, capital letters, tabs, and other characters.

Audio Steganography

Echo hiding, parity coding, and LSB coding, to name a few, are used in audio steganography with digital audio formats like WAVE, MIDI, and AVI MPEG.

Video Steganography

H.264, Mp4, MPEG, and AVI are all examples of video steganography. It also uses graphics to transport data that is hidden.

Image Steganography

Pixel intensities are employed to hide information.

Network Steganography

TCP, UDP, and IP are the carriers used by network protocols.

Text steganography is arguably the most straightforward to use. Writing is, obviously, a simple activity that does not necessitate any particular talents or equipment. Text steganography can be used for a variety of purposes. Steganography, on the other hand, has its own set of rules. Everyone in the message chain, for example, must be aware that a hidden message is present. If the reader is not aware of the code, the secret will be lost. the recipient knows that they should be looking for the embedded message. They will eventually locate it.

Watermarks embedded in photographs are also covered by steganography in some cases. Watermarks on licensed photos are familiar to anyone who has worked with online photo collections. Some steganographic techniques preserve watermarks in data, though not all of them are termed steganography.

Other examples of steganography include:

  • Invisible ink is used to write
  • Including text in a photograph (for example, an artist disguising their initials in a painting)
  • Backward masking of a message in an audio file( those stories about nasty messages on rock and roll records that were recorded backward)
  • Keeping information hidden in the metadata or the file header
  • Hide a picture in a video that can only be seen if the video is played at a specific frame rate.
  • embedding a secret message in an RRB image’s green, blue, or red channels.

Steganography can be used for both beneficial and harmful objectives. Steganography is used by educational and business organizations, intelligence agencies, the military, and certified ethical hackers to hide private messages and information.

Criminal hackers, on the other hand, employ steganography to corrupt data files or hide viruses in otherwise harmless papers. Using BASH and PowerShell scripts, for example, attackers can launch automated attacks by embedding scripts in Word and Excel documents. When an unwary user opens one of those documents, the secret, the hidden script is activated, and pandemonium ensues. This is a popular ransomware distribution tactic.

Compared to traditional cryptographic approaches, steganography has a significant benefit. When someone utilizes cryptography, they are inadvertently drawing attention to the fact that the medium in question contains hidden information. As a result, the presence of encrypted data signals to intruders, “Aha!” Here’s some top-secret info!” Steganography, on the other hand, conceals crucial information in a relatively simple document. As a result, would-be hackers are unaware that there is anything secret or interesting, to begin with.

How Steganography Differs From Obfuscation

Obfuscation, like steganography, is characterized as concealing information, but the distinction is that the former method makes the message intentionally difficult to decipher, read, or decode. Obfuscate means to make something vague, incoherent, or obscure, which makes sense.

Obfuscation is a technique used by cyber-security specialists to protect sensitive information such as computer codes. Because the procedure makes it difficult for hackers to understand the codes in the first place, they are unable to exploit the information.

To summarise, steganography is a type of obfuscation, but the reverse is not true.

Steganography Techniques Explained

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the various approaches now for a better understanding of what steganography is, what shapes it takes, and who uses it.

Secure Cover Selection

Finding the right block image to transport malware is part of Secure Cover Selection. The hackers then match the virus blocks to the image media they have chosen. If an image block matches the malware, the hackers insert it into the carrier picture, resulting in a malware-infected image that is identical to the original. This image is then instantly scanned by threat detection software.

Least Significant Bit

In this context, though, it refers to pixels. Gray scale image pixels are divided into eight bits, with the Least Significant Bit being the eighth bit. Because the overall pixel value is reduced by only one, the human eye cannot notice the difference in the image, hackers utilize this bit to encode malicious code. As a result, no one notices anything is wrong or that the image contains something dangerous.

Palette-Based Technique

The palette-based Technique, like the Least Significant Bit technique, is based on visuals. Hackers hide their message in palette-based pictures like GIF files, making it difficult for cybersecurity threat hunters and ethical hackers to notice.

What algorithm is used in steganography?

In his steganography method, a large amount of data (photo, audio, and text) is hidden within a color bitmap (BMP) image. In his lab, the image will be filtered and segmented, and bits replacement will be done to the appropriate pixels. Rather than being chosen in order, these pixels are chosen at random.

The procedure of steganalysis is used to detect the message within the cover image. This can be done by comparing it to the cover image, calculating histograms, or detecting noise. While work is being done to build new algorithms that are more resistant to such attacks, work is also being done to improve existing steganalysis algorithms, which identify the flow of secret information between terrorists or criminal elements.

Best Tools to Perform Steganography

There is a lot of software out there that can do steganography. Some provide standard steganography, while others provide encryption before concealing the data. The following are some of the free steganography tools:

  • Stegosuite is a Java-based steganography program that is free to use. You may simply hide secret information in image files with Stegosuite.
  • Steghide is a free steganography program that allows you to conceal a hidden file within an image or audio file.
  • Xiao Steganography is a free program that allows you to hide data in BMP or WAV images.
  • SSuite Picsel is a free portable application that may be used to hide text within an image file, although it takes a different method than other utilities.
  • OpenPuff is a professional steganographic tool that allows you to encrypt files in picture, audio, video, and flash formats.

There are a few tools that can be used to execute steganography. There are other tools available, each with its own set of capabilities. These instruments, on the other hand, will provide you with the desired results.

Steganography Applications

To make steganography easier, there are a variety of specialist software tools available. Here is a rundown of some of the more well-known steganography uses:

  • Steganography in Images: This is a JavaScript tool for hiding images within other image files.
  • OpenStack: This is an open-source steganography application.
  • Steganography by Xiao: WAV or BMP files are used by Xiao to hide hidden files.
  • Crypture: This application is a steganography command-line utility.
  • NoClue: It is an open-source application that hides text information in video and image carrier files.
  • Steganography Master: It is an open-source Android software that can hide text in images and provides a decoding tool to extract secret text messages from image files. It accepts a variety of picture formats (BMP, JPG, ICO, PNG)
  • Steghide: It is a program that hides data in various audio and image formats, such as JPEG, BMP, AU, and WAV.

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