Encryption is a wonderful tool that grants us information control. But there is one thing that encryption generally fails to do, conceal the fact that you’re using encryption. This is where steganography comes in. Steganography is the art of concealing hidden messages in plain sight. There are numerous tools that allow you to do this, most of which conceal data inside of image files. The creator of BitTorrent is developing a new steganography tool can conceal data inside of any file type:
For the last year Cohen, who created the breakthrough file-sharing protocol BitTorrent a decade ago, has been working on a new piece of software he calls DissidentX. The program, which he released over the summer in a barebones prototype and is now working to develop with the help of a group of researchers at Stanford, goes beyond encryption to offer users what cryptographers call “steganography,” the ability to conceal a message inside another message. Instead of merely enciphering users’ communications in a scramble of nonsensical characters, DissidentX can camouflage their secrets in an inconspicuous website, a corporate document, or any other, pre-existing file from a Rick Astley video to a digital copy of Crime and Punishment.
“What you really want is to be as unsuspicious as possible,” says Cohen, who spoke with me about DissidentX at the Real World Crypto conference in New York Tuesday. “We don’t want an interloper to be able to tell that this communication is happening at all.”
As world governments become more tyrannical I believe it will become critical to have means of communicating securely in a way that doesn’t reveal the use of secure communications. Embedding an encrypted message inside of a picture of a cat, for example, is likely to go undetected on the Internet. Communications could be setup in such a way that uses embed a message in an image, upload it to a specific image sharing site, and decrypted by the recipient without anybody else knowing the image contains a message.