Given the volume of data generated and communicated electronically in the world today, it’s no surprise that several solutions for data protection have evolved. Steganography is a rapidly expanding approach. We will go through steganography in depth in this steganography article.
Before we get started, let us just go through the things we’ll be addressing on this blog. what exactly is steganography? what distinguishes Steganography from Cryptography? Steganography Methods, and Best Steganography Tools. Join Softlogic Systems to find a wide range of opportunities in the network security domain through our Cybersecurity Courses in Chennai with IBM Certification.
What exactly is Steganography?
Steganography is the art and science of embedding secret messages in a cover message so that no one saves the sender and the intended recipient realizes the message’s presence.
A basic steganographic model is depicted in the diagram below.
As seen in the illustration, both the cover image (X) and the secret text (M) are sent into the steganographic encoder as input. The f(X,M,K) Steganographic Encoder function embeds the secret message into a cover file. The resulting Stego Object is identical to your cover file, with no visible differences. Encoding is now complete. Stego Object is passed into Steganographic Decoder to obtain the secret message.
Historical Background of Steganography
The method of disguising a secret message behind a conventional message is known as steganography. It derives from two Greek words: steganos, which means “covered,” and graphia, which means “writing”. Steganography is an ancient practice that has been used to keep communications hidden for thousands of years in various ways. As an example:
- The oldest recorded usage of steganography dates back to 440 BC when individuals in ancient Greece wrote messages on wood and covered them with wax, which served as a covering medium.
- The Romans used numerous types of invisible inks, and light or heat was used to decode such concealed texts.
- During WWII, the Germans introduced microdots, which were whole documents, photos, and plans shrunk to the size of a dot and affixed to regular documentation.
- Null Ciphers were also employed to conceal unencrypted secret messages in plain sight.
We now have a plethora of sophisticated steganographic techniques and tools to ensure that our data remains private. You may be asking if steganography and cryptography are the same things. No, they are two distinct concepts, and this steganography tutorial explains the key distinctions between them.
What distinguishes Steganography from Cryptography?
At their essence, both have nearly the same goal: shielding a message or information from third parties. However, they utilize a completely different approach to safeguard the data.
Cryptography converts information into ciphertext, which is incomprehensible without a decryption key. If someone intercepted this encrypted message, they would immediately notice that some type of encryption had been used. Steganography, on the other hand, does not change the format of the information but conceals the existence of the message.
|Definition||It is a method of concealing the existence of communication.||It is a method of converting data into an unintelligible form.|
|Goal||Maintain communication security.||Provide data security|
|Data Structure||It doesn’t effect on the overall structure of the data.||Changes the entire data structure|
|Key||Optional, but provides additional security if utilized||Required Necessarily|
|Failure||Anyone can use the secret data once the presence of a secret message is revealed.||If you have the decryption key, you can decipher the original message from the ciphertext.|
In other words, while sending secret information, steganography is more discrete than cryptography. The disadvantage is that if the presence of the secret is found, the hidden message is easier to extract. The rest of this steganography lesson will teach you about various steganography approaches and tools.
Steganography is classified into five forms based on the nature of the cover item (the actual thing in which the secret data is embedded):
- Text Steganography
- Image Steganography
- Video Steganography
- Audio Steganography
- Network Steganography
The practice of hiding data within text files is known as text steganography. It entails modifying the format of existing text, changing words within a document, generating random letter sequences, or constructing readable texts using a context-free grammar. Among the approaches used to conceal data in the text are:
- Method Based on Format
- Statistical and Random Generation
- Linguistic Methodology
The process of concealing data by using the cover item as the image is known as picture steganography. Because the digital representation of an image comprises a significant number of bits, images are a frequent cover source in digital steganography. There are several ways to hide information within an image. Typical methods include:
- Insertion of the Least Significant Bit
- Filtering and masking
- Encoding of Redundant Patterns
- Scatter and Encrypt
- Cosine Transformation and Coding
The secret message is embedded in an audio signal, which changes the binary sequence of the related audio file in audio steganography. Hiding secret messages in digital sound is a far more complex technique than, say, image steganography. Among the several methods of audio steganography are:
- Encoding using the Least Significant Bits
- Encoding for Parity
- Coding in Phases
- Spread the Spectrum
This approach conceals data in WAV, AU, and even MP3 audio files.
With Video Steganography, you can conceal various forms of data in digital video formats. The benefit of this type is that a large amount of data can be hidden inside, and it is a moving stream of images and sounds. Consider it a cross between Image Steganography and Audio Steganography. Video steganography is classified into two types:
- Data embedding in uncompressed raw video and later compression
- Data is embedded directly into the compressed data stream.
Network Steganography / Protocol Steganography
It is the process of embedding information within network control protocols used in data transfer, such as TCP, UDP, and ICMP. Steganography can be used in various covert channels found in the OSI model. For example, in some optional fields of a TCP/IP packet, you can hide information.
Steganography software is widely available in today’s digitalized environment. The rest of this Steganography Tutorial will look at some of the most common steganographic tools and their capabilities.
Best Steganography Tools
span style=”font-weight: 400;”>There is a plethora of software available that provides steganography. Some provide standard steganography, while others provide encryption before hiding the data. The following steganography tools are accessible for free:
- Stegosuite is a free steganography application based on Java. With Stegosuite, you can easily disguise important information in image files.
- Steghide is a free and open-source Steganography software that allows you to conceal a hidden file within an image or audio file.
- Xiao Steganography is a free program that can be used to conceal data in BMP or WAV files.
- SSuite Picsel is another free portable application that may be used to hide text inside an image file, although it takes a different method than previous utilities.
- OpenPuff is a professional steganographic tool that allows you to hide data in pictures, audio, video, or flash files.
These are a few tools for performing steganography. There are other alternative tools with varying capabilities. These instruments, however, will provide you with the desired results.
So that brings us to the end of the Steganographic Article. Steganography was created to provide secure communication. However, fraudsters and terrorist organizations are taking advantage of this. Understanding how to conceal data steganography and prevent that data from being exploited can thus be extremely beneficial for both attack and defense.
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