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While cryptography stands for encrypting or coding messages in a way that no one who doesn’t hold the key can understand them, steganography means hiding messages, so that no one who doesn’t know it’s there will realize it’s there in the first place. Naturally, both techniques are best used in combination, and the tool I’m showing you today applies to both cryptography and steganography.

It’s easy to understand why one would like to not only encrypt but also hide a message. Using encryption alone is suspicious, whether or not the message is of any interest or meaning. Once discovered, the message is in danger of being cracked by curious individuals or used against you in heated discussions. Thus, if you want to hide your secret passion to write trashy short stories from your significant other, don’t encrypt but hide the text in your notorious country music collection…for example. But seriously, steganography can prove very useful to safely store sensible information. Think of passwords, the birthdates of ex girlfriends, the phone number of George Clooney, your secret plans to take over world leadership or you name it. Earlier we did a quick post on how to hide your folders and files in Windows 2 Ways to Hide "Important" Files and Folders in Windows 2 Ways to Hide "Important" Files and Folders in Windows Read More but the tool I am about to show you is more secure and harder to break.

The tool I will show you in detail is S-Tools. My little tutorial is going to be extremely short, since the program is so straight-forward and simple to use. S-Tools was originally written for Windows 95 by a guy called Andy Brown. It does run on Windows XP, but it looks like it’s slowly disappearing from the face of the internet, the available download sources appear somewhat obscure and the developer’s homepage is long gone. However, the source linked to above is safe.

With S-Tools you can hide information in BMP, GIF, or WAV files, and the resulting file will be BMP, GIF, or WAV, respectively. You can hide any file type and even multiple files, but to hide larger files also the host file needs to be of sufficient size. Note that the size a host file can hold is indicated in the bottom right corner of the program window.

So how does it work? Just drag the host file to be into the S-Tools window. Next drag the file you want to hide onto the host file, provide a passphrase, choose from the encryption algorithms IDEA, DES, Triple DES or MDC, hit OK, wait for the calculations to complete, then save the resulting file (right click and select Save or Save as…) , and you’re done. To extract hidden files, simply drag the respective host file into S-Tools, right click, select reveal, type in the passphrase, select the encryption algorithm, hit ok and voilà, a small archive revealing all hidden files will appear from where you can save the files.

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Go ahead and try to crack this sound file or this image. What’s the hidden word? Need help? Highlight this text >>> MUO <<< for the passphrase and this text >>> IDEA <<< for the encryption algorithm.

Do you find this application useful? Do you know of other steganography tools? I’m looking forward to learning your opinion in the comments!

  1. Mackenzie
    June 7, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I haven't tried any of them yet, so YMMV, but a quick apt-cache search reveals the following Linux steganography tools:
    outguess
    stegdetect
    steghide

  2. Winchester
    June 7, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    An easier option is hiding a file in a jpeg image. This method doesn't require both parties to have software installed on their machines. All you need is an image, winrar and the comand prompt (encrypting party). Decrypting party needs winrar.

    The file does not get encrypted, it is only hidden in the image.

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