Department of Math, Computer and Information Sciences
Mississippi Valley State University
MS, United States of America
Steganography is the art of writing hidden messages that no one but the sender and the person receiving the message can read it. In Greek, Steganography means “concealed writing”. Stego is often used as the short version of Steganography. The first recorded uses of steganography are traced back to 440 BC when Herodotus mentions two examples in his Histories . In 1499, Johannes Trithemius recorded in Trithemius’ Steganographia, a treatise on cryptography and steganography. It was disguised as a magic book. Steganography actually takes cryptography to another level of advance.
Today, steganography is more sophisticated because it allows a user to hide large amounts of information within images and audio files. It is used in conjunction with cryptography so that the message is doubly protected. The message is first encrypted, then hidden so that an intruder has to first find the information and then decrypt it . Steganography has an advantage over cryptography. With steganography the intruder has no idea about you hiding something, but with cryptography the intruder knows about your message but cannot read it .
Steganography is widely used and has been used many times in history. Messages went from being hidden within wax tablets, to on the messenger’s body, to on the backs of couriers using invisible ink in World War I, to in Morse code on knitting yard, to on envelopes in the area covered by postage stamps, and during World War II Velvalee Dickinson sent information to accommodation addresses in neutral South America. Steganography is not just something that is used in the lab or something studied in academia. It has been stated in several reports that Steganography was used by the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and outside of Pittsburgh as one of their means of communication .
Steganography itself can make use of several low-tech methods because its goal is still to hide the existence of a message. There are two common types steganography. They are null cipher and the use of templates.
Steganography has flourished in the digital era. It is used by millions of people around the world. It is used by some modern printers, including HP brand color laser printers. Small yellow dots are added to every page. The dots are hardly visible and contain encoded printer serial numbers, as well as date and time stamps. JPEG is a very common method of steganography that is currently used because the message is now hidden inside the picture . When Steganography is in used, it shows up as something like a picture, which is considered to be covertext. The pictures are perfect because they can be hidden anywhere on the Internet. The message becomes hidden by shifting the color values of the texts to a certain extent. It is also used for watermarking, which is the hiding of information indicating ownership or origin inside a digital file . However, a watermarking is only visible when held up to the light. Steganography is illegal in some countries and carries very strict penalties for it being used.
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