What is steganography and how it works?(Def+Types)

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Here we start all about what is steganography and how it works? Information concealment techniques like steganography have been used for ages. Additionally, steganography has changed and adapted due to the development of computers and the internet in tandem with technical advancements.

What is steganography and how it works

Data is typically concealed via digital steganography among innocent items like photos, movies, and audio. Digital steganography is becoming a key technique in the toolkits of spies, malicious hackers, political dissidents, human rights campaigners, and others.

What is steganography and how it works?

Steganography replaces bits of ineffective or rarely used data in common computer files (such as pictures, sound, text, and HTML) with new, undetectable data. This personal data may be in plain text, cipher text, or pictures. Steganography is the practice of concealing information from prying eyes using a variety of techniques. Steganography was primarily carried out physically in the past.

Around the earliest known instance of steganography, which took place in 500 BC, the king of Miletus, Histiaeus, tattooed a message on the shaved head of one of his slaves and then allowed the hair to regrow.

He then delivered the enslaved person to his son-in-law, Aristagoras, who once more shaved the enslaved person’s head and read the letter.

More contemporary steganographic techniques, such as invisible inks, were developed in the following centuries. Steganography is now digital technology. Ira Winkler, lead security principle at Trustwave, explains that steganography is, by definition, the concealment of one file inside another.

How does steganography work?

Information is concealed using steganography in a way that doesn’t raise any red flags. Least Significant Bit (LSB) Steganography is one of the most widely used methods. The information hider embeds the confidential information in the least important pieces of a media file in this style of steganography.

For example, in an image file, each pixel is made up of three bytes of data, or the red, green, and blue hues, with the addition of a fourth byte for transparency, or “alpha,” in some image formats.

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To conceal one bit of data, LSB steganography modifies the final bit of each of those bytes. Therefore, this method requires an eight-megabyte image file to conceal one megabyte of data.

A person viewing the original and the steganographically modified photographs won’t be able to detect the difference since changing the last bit of the pixel value doesn’t provide a visually noticeable change to the picture.

A similar strategy can be used with other digital media (audio and video), where data is concealed in areas of the file that have the least impact on the output in terms of sound or sight.

Using a word or letter substitution is a less common steganography technique. Here, the secret message’s author conceals the content by scattering it among a much bigger text and inserting the words at certain intervals.

The content may appear weird and out of place even if this substitution technique is simple to implement since the hidden words may not fit into the target sentences especially well.

Other steganographic techniques include concealing a full hard drive partition or inserting data into the header of files and network packets. The amount of data these techniques can conceal and how simple it is to catch them determine their effectiveness.

Who uses steganography?

Wild hackers use steganography to conceal script files and harmful payloads, among other things. The code for malware is frequently concealed in pictures of famous people and music using LSB steganography, which is then executed by a different application once the file has been downloaded into the victim’s machine.

“A harmful file concealed within a secure file is referred to as a “Trojan Horse.” Additionally, macro attacks use steganography, according to Trustwave’s Winkler. “Ingenious hackers will employ steganography whenever necessary to get around security measures.”

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But steganography isn’t just used by cybercriminals regularly. Spies use the method to connect with their command center covertly and avoid raising suspicion in their targets. Dissidents and tech-savvy human rights campaigners also utilize steganography to communicate secret information.

Types of steganography:

Types of steganography

Different forms of steganography exist. This suggests that the type of cover file that contains the hidden message may take several forms. As a result, we have

Text Steganography:

Using this technique, text files’ data or messages can be hidden. Techniques like the Format Based Method, Linguistic Method, and Random and Statistical Generation are used.

Audio Steganography:

As the name implies, this technique alters the audio file’s binary sequence by hiding data or messages within an audio signal. It uses methods including Phase Coding, Least Significant Bit Encoding, Spread Spectrum, and Parity Encoding.

Video Steganography:

Since it conceals data or messages into digital video format, this technique uses the fundamental principles of both image and audio steganography.

It aids in hiding enormous amounts of data and can be done in one of two ways: Data can be embedded in the raw, uncompressed video and then compressed; data can also be directly included in compressed data streams.

Image Steganography:

This is one of the most well-known techniques for steganography and the definition of a picture. The term “steganography” comes up pretty frequently in the computer community. Using graphics as cover files, this technique conceals data or messages.

Masking and filtering, encrypting and scattering, least significant bit insertion, coding and cosine transformation, and redundant pattern encoding are some techniques used.

What are examples of steganography?

People that want to transmit a hidden message or code use steganography. Although steganography has many useful applications, it has also been shown that malware authors utilize it to hide the transmission of dangerous code.

Steganography is a term used to describe various methods for concealing a hidden message in a seemingly innocent container.

For instance, hiding documents recorded on the microdot, which has a diameter as small as one millimetre, on or inside correspondence that appears to be legitimate; using invisible ink to cloak secret messages in otherwise inoffensive messages, or even using multiplayer gaming environments to share information.

Stenographic Attacks: Are You at Risk?

Hackers have much information to provide but don’t want security experts to learn about it. They are drawn to steganography as well. As they construct their attacks, hackers choose one of three methods.

Least important piece: The hacker assesses the carrier and decides what is irrelevant. The secret code is used to replace those bits. A hacker could apply this method to download files or photos.

Palette-based: Hackers expand an image’s palette to conceal its components. Because the payload is encrypted, detection is significantly more difficult.

Hackers check the message’s blocks against the image’s blocks to determine which cover to use. The carrier is the one that matches it most closely and that fits it. Malware is frequently in a hacker’s message. Any interaction with the modified files triggers the software to launch and start operating. It’s possible that you won’t ever be aware of the attack. Hackers can reach you via one of four methods.

  • Digital media files: A hacker could insert malicious code into an email signature or a picture on your website.
  • Mimicry: The hacker creates a fake website that launches the download when any activity is performed on it.
  • Ransomware: The hackers send infected emails with demands that, when clicked, launch the software.
  • Exploit kits: An infected landing page is redirected when a user clicks on infected banner adverts or other website content.

Although these assaults may appear difficult, the software makes embedding practically anything quite simple.

What is Watermarking in Steganography?

Steganography and watermarking are two ideas that are highly connected So much so that the two names are frequently used interchangeably. But they differ slightly.

Thus it’s critical to comprehend what watermarking in steganography is. Steganography has several different forms, one of which is watermarking. The act of creating an enduring stamp on a specific piece of material to cover up copyright information is known as watermarking.

By claiming authenticity and ownership, it is possible to stop unauthorized file sharing and remove or replace messages by intruders. While the existence of the message is unknown in the case of steganography, it may or may not be known in the case of watermarking.

Final Thoughts:

I’m sure that at the end of this article, you should have a solid understanding of what is steganography and how it works? Steganography appears to have a completely benign goal, but it has frequently been abused by hackers and online criminals to launch various types of cyberattacks.

Given this, it only makes sense to grasp what Steganography is and how it is used in cyber security. Steganography detection is accomplished by a process known as “steganalysis.” Security analysts utilize various techniques to look for anomalies, but given the amount of data available, the process is too time-consuming.


  1. Ruler of Miletus: Histiaeus
  2. Syntaxtechs: What is Steganography?: Everything You Need to Know About It
  3. Tech Target: What is steganography?
  4. Ports Wigger: What is steganography? A complete guide to the ancient art of concealing messages

Frequently Asked Questions

What algorithm does image steganography use?

The steganographic algorithm creates a binary series of pseudorandom integers using one public key and one private key to specify where the pieces of the binary sequence of a secret message will be put. In the modified DCT domain, the insertion eventually occurs at the first seven AC coefficients.

How does steganography work for hackers?

Although there are other steganographic techniques, steghide is the most widely used one. Hackers frequently conceal payloads within an image’s pixels when using steghide. A payload is Base-64 encoded and concealed within the metadata by the hacker.

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