Last updated: April 21, 2019
Topic: SocietyWar
Sample donated:

The War on Terror has entered the Internet Age. Wikipedia mentions media citations that al-Queada operatives send encrypted files over an auction site on the Internet, as a means of exchanging plans for the next terror attack (2006). Alarming, as it may seem, steganography is an effective security tool, when used properly. This paper is a concise narration on the evolving technology of steganography. Steganography is the art and science of disguising information with the intent of hiding it from the unintended receiver.

In a way, it is a form of encryption, because it hides the true information from the unintended recipient, but differs from it because the intention of steganography is to hide the presence of information itself, while the cryptographer merely limits the access, without hiding the fact that the information is present. In steganography, information appears to be something other than what is obvious to the innocent receiver. Origin and History of Methods The technology has been existent since the 1500s, although the term is not as widely held.

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In fact, even the FBI report did not mention the word, “steganography,” but referred to the evidences as a form of encryption (2001). Nevertheless, the intended use of steganography dates back to ancient Greece, when secret messages were written on wooden tablets covered with wax or tattooed on shaved heads of slaves that later on grew hair to hide the message (Petitcolas, 2006). In the course of WW2, messages traversed enemy lines disguised in two-colored knitting yarn carrying a Morse code pattern.

Newspaper articles were written on top of invisible ink, or typeset in a specified order of microdots (Petitcolas, 2006). Throughout history, the methods used for steganography followed the communication technology of the era. During the birth of the World Wide Web, various modern methods of the trade rapidly arose. Firstly, watermarking became a means of inserting a personal copyright on shared material. Image files store watermark in pixels that can be altered without affecting the overall image. The Least Significant Bit (LSB) in any image file can be altered by modifying its ASCII code, for example.

By doing so in a specific order creates a hidden image or message within the picture. The bigger the file, the more LSB can be modified to hide information. In the same approach, audio files, which are typically large, hide data in uncompressed portions of the file. Amplification reveals hidden information in noise (Steganography, 2006). Secondly, when the order of data is created in an otherwise disordered data, this is a form of steganography. An example shared by Artz (2001) is to alter the use of ALT and NAME tags in programming a webpage (p. 7). Doing so will not change the information contained in the page, but only the order of the information, and can be used as an indicator of a private message. Lastly, the use of cipher text is the simplest yet expansive method of steganography. Messages especially encoded together may emerge naive of wonder, but by extracting the first letters of every word in previous phrase, the hidden message, “meet me now” will emerge. A more complex form is called stegotext uses computer software like JavaScript© to encrypt a text.

Conclusion. When put to productive use, steganography is an effective tool to protect copyright. In the age of information sharing, the rightful creator of valuable information may not be given proper credit, unless measures are in place to uniquely identify one’s work. Furthermore, it is also an effective tool in limiting information only to those that need to know. Steganography is crucial when the security of a nation is being considered. However, there are elements that can abuse the technology. To combat such, steganalysis is a method used as countermeasure (Artz, 2001, p. 80).