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Steganography is data hidden within data. Steganography is an encryption technique that can be used along with cryptography as an extra-secure method in which to protect data.
Steganography techniques can be applied to images, a video file or an audio file. Typically, however, steganography is written in characters including hash marking, but its usage within images is also common. At any rate, steganography protects from pirating copyrighted materials as well as aiding in unauthorized viewing.
Rather than being incomprehensible to an unauthorized third party, as is the case with cryptography, steganography is designed to be hidden from a third party. Not only must the hidden data be discovered—considered a formidable task in and of itself—it must be encrypted, which can be nearly impossible.
One use of steganography includes watermarking which hides copyright information within a watermark by overlaying files not easily detected by the naked eye. This prevents fraudulent actions and gives copyright protected media extra protection.
There is some concern, sans definite proof, that the terrorists who plotted and deployed the 9/11 mission in New York City utilized steganography. This is what primarily brought the science of stenography front and center. Data can be stolen and encrypted through a file transfer or, more often than not, through email. And as with what has been suspected for 9/11, steganography can be used for secret communications that deal with terrorist plots.
On the lighter side, steganography usage has occurred in the military for decades, even if not computer based. One example was having a secret message was tattooed on a soldier’s shaved head. His hair would of course grow out and, once it did, he would have his hair shaved again only to reveal the hidden tattooed message to the designated recipient.