What does “Steganography” mean?

Steganography is the art and science of hiding information by embedding messages within other, seemingly harmless messages. Steganography works by replacing bits of useless or unused data in regular computer files (such as graphics, sound, text, HTML) with bits of different, invisible information. This hidden information can be plain text, cipher text, or even images.

Unlike encryption, steganography cannot be detected. Therefore, it is used when encryption is not permitted. Or, more commonly, steganography is used to supplement encryption. An encrypted file may still hide information using steganography, so even if the encrypted file is deciphered, the hidden message is not seen.

Steganography (literally meaning covered writing) dates back to ancient Greece, where common practices consisted of etching messages in wooden tablets and covering them with wax, and tattooing a shaved messenger’s head, letting his hair grow back, then shaving it again when he arrived at his contact point.