What is steganography and how does it work?

Ever wondered if you could hide your secret information in a conspicuous place? And sending seemingly ordinary messages to friends and family without anyone suspecting that it carries secret messages?

The good news is that you can indeed do it. Steganography allows you to hide information in the obvious. So what is steganography? How is it different from cryptography? How does steganography actually work?

What Is Steganography?

Steganography is the practice or technique of hiding and obscuring information in plain sight. It utilizes ordinary files such as text, audio, images, videos, and even Word or Excel sheets to hide information.

Steganography is taken from two Greek words ” steganos ” and ” graphia ” . Steganos” means “hide, conceal, or overwrite,” while “graphia” means “write or study.”

The history of steganography

The technique of steganography is not recent; It is an ancient practice that has existed for centuries. In 500 BC, a King Miletus tattooed a message on the scalp of a slave, causing the slave’s hair to grow back, and then gave the slave to his son-in-law. The son-in-law then shaved the slave’s head to read the secret message. No one who walked with a slave would have guessed that there was an important message on his scalp.

Steganography has changed a lot over the years! There have been examples of stone slabs covered with secret information with wax, and even seemingly ordinary drawings with deeper meaning. Then there’s one you’re probably most familiar with: invisible ink. People have been using steganography for a long time.

Steganography and cryptography

Steganography and cryptography are two similar concepts, but they are different. Cryptography is the practice of hiding or protecting information from being discovered by unwanted people. Cryptography is used to protect data and securely transmit it between two or more parties. There are many techniques in cryptography, two of which are cryptography and steganography.

Encryption is a cryptographic technique that works by converting the information you want to transmit into a password that only someone with a special key can access and understand.


The difference between steganography and other forms of cryptography is that steganography hides information in plain sight or uses ordinary everyday files; While using other cryptography techniques, you know that there is secret information being transmitted. Steganography is a safer method because it does not reveal the fact that information is being transmitted.

However, steganography can be combined with other cryptography techniques to create a more secure mode of transmitting the information. Information can be encrypted using an encryption algorithm and then hidden using steganography.

How does steganography work?

So, if steganography requires embedding private information into a file, how does this actually work?

A popular technique in steganography is the insertion of least significant bits (LSBs). Here, the least significant bit of the file is inserted into the information. Changing this bit does not cause significant changes to the files used when modifying. In an image file, data is inserted into one pixel in the image. LSB is also suitable for audio and video files.


Other techniques of steganography include data sorting and letter substitution.

How is steganography used today?

Steganography has many uses today, and although this technique is employed by malicious actors and actors to commit crimes, it also has positive uses.

Digital watermark

A digital watermark is a code or piece of data embedded in a media file to protect them from copyright infringement and to display ownership. Digital watermarks use steganography to create invisible watermarks that do not distort images while being able to track whether they have been used without authorization.

Security Information

This goes without saying. Government officials and law enforcement agencies use steganography to send highly classified information to other parties without arousing suspicion.

Keep your data safe with steganography

Steganography, combined with the encryption process, is an effective way to protect and transmit data. As data theft and interception rates increase, you must be more conscious of protecting your personal information, which makes steganography an important technique to understand.