It just recently crossed my mind, that using Steganography (the process of hiding data inside other data) we should be able to write large amounts of hidden data into video files. This could be done in such a way that no one apart from the intended recipient would know of the existence of the data. You may ask: “And what would this be good for?”… Well answer is simple…
Imagine you’ve got a software which lets you process a 100mb large video and hide (encode) into it a 20 megabyte large zip or rar file. Then upload such file to YouTube or Google Video and you’ve got 20 mb zip file hidden on the net without anyone’s knowledge.
Using the same imaginary software you could process the Youtube video and retrieve the file back. To a regular visitor of your Youtube video, it would look like the quality maybe isn’t the best, but otherwise he or she would have no clue that there is a 20mb zip or rar file hidden inside of the video.
You might be still asking what’s the point of all of this…
Well lets take this idea further. Imagine someone would zip the cracked version of some valuable software (lets say Photoshop – 100mb) and process this 100mb file into five 20mb zip chunks. Then use our imaginary software and encode these 5 files into 5 movies and upload them all to Youtube.
Now, all everyone interested in downloading cracked version of Photoshop needs is a small file specifying five video urls and of course again our imaginary software which extracts (decodes) all the zip files from online videos.
And there you go: Everyone who has these 5 urls can grab a Photoshop for free. Download would be extremely fast, always available, always there… All you need to know is these 5 specific urls.
Plus it would be almost impossible for Google or Youtube to figure out which video has the file encoded and which doesn’t.
Thinking about it little more, it accured to me that Youtube re-codes uploaded videos to their own format, making many times uploaded videos smaller and that this way encoded data would get corrupted. But someone clever (not me in this case) would be able to figure out the conversion/compression process and able to implement data the way they would resist such process.
Anyhow, this is all just a fiction and I doubt someone would ever go through a trouble of creating such software and I also doubt someone would want the Google lawsuit in his resume :)
Well, and before I let this article collect the dust, here is a little demonstration of how Steganography works in images. Here is an image of a tree:
By removing all but the last 2 bits of each color component, an almost completely black image results. Making the resulting image 85 times brighter results in this image:
Amazing, isn’t it?
If you want to try it yourself, there is a software called ImageHide, download it here:
It lets you hide large amounts of text into a picture, it supports RC_4 encryption plus SHA Hashing and it won’t increase the size of the image. Also uses hashed Passwords (now in image).
As you can see, ImageHide does a good job. This whole article is hiden in it and there is no visible difference between these two images.
Try to download the second image and load it into your own copy of ImageHide and press “Read Data”, you will see a copy of this article :)
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