Adapted from “Steganography… what is that?” from SpiderLabs® Blog
When people think about data and information security the first word that comes mind is usually “hacking,” but there are many disciplines in security, one being “steganography,” which is essentially an offshoot of encryption, or data hiding.
The word itself can be divided in two parts: stegano + graphy. “Stegano” comes from the Greek word “steganos” meaning “covered,” and “graphy” which comes from the Greek word “graphein” meaning “writing.” Thus, steganography literally means “covered writing.”
Steganography is an ancient art of covering messages in a secret way such that only the sender and intended receiver even know the presence of the message, allowing communication without a third party even being aware that it’s occurring. Usually, the data is concealed inside an innocuous cover so that even if a third party discovers the cover, there are no suspicions about the data hiding inside.
How does this differ from cryptography, a cousin in the spy craft family? In cryptography, the original message is scrambled but not hidden. When an attacker discovers the message it is still difficult to get the original message back, but they know it is there. In digital steganography, the message is secretly hidden inside a file, so there arises no suspicion to the attacker about its presence.
Steganography does not attempt to scramble the original message but the intent is the same as in cryptography: to protect the original message. For added protection, digitally and otherwise, steganography is sometimes combined with cryptography.
Traditional graffiti, and more contemporary displays of street art, operate much in the same way, with the artist often relaying a message behind the message. Uniserve’s “Art of Communication” campaign celebrates unified communications (much like our own voice, data and media solution) in the form of stunning street murals and visual displays across Canada.