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By Emily Salinger

Encryption is only the beginning...

If you're interested in what Emily has to say, you'll find links to steganography resources on the Privacy Links page of Wolfe's Lodge. Emily also has her own intriguing and puzzling site called "Emily's Shadows." Very beautiful and challenging place to visit -- if you can find it.

Like most folks, I like getting postcards. But while postcards let me share something of what others are doing, the pictures are usually more interesting then the text. I mean, I understand. I do the same thing. Why would I pour my heart out on a square of cardboard where perfect strangers can read it? Like you, I enclose anything more intimate then "Hi, I'm here!" safely within an envelope.

When it comes to electronic mail, some people know that cryptography like PGP can provide an electronic envelope, but most folks never think about it. They just put their most personal thoughts and feelings out for every sysop and network tech in the world to read. I once chatted with a group of BBS sysops, you'd be surprised how many said one of the biggest attractions of their hobby is all the neat mail they got to read. (Gee, I bet you just reacted to that thought the same way I did....)

I'm a private sort. Not only do I not like anyone reading my mail, I don't really like people knowing who I correspond with. This led me to steganography, the technology of hiding information. After I write (and encrypt) a message, I "stego" it into another medium. There are stego programs for hiding messages in a variety of places. I hide messages in pictures, in sound files, even in other texts, then post the medium in a mutually agreed on place for my friend to pick up. It sounds more complicated then it is, here is how it works:

First, I write my message in clear text (no MS products with telltale signatures for me, thank you very much!) and save it. Then I use PGP to encrypt it. Then I use a neat little program called "Stealth" to strip off the PGP headers, leaving me a binary file of apparently random data. I then pick an innocuous image and use my steganography program (There are plenty, pick one. If no nosey knows which program I use, that makes their job harder!) to hide the data within the image. Done.

I now have an image that is identical to the original to the eye, and is the same size and date as the original. I "send" the image by posting it to an appropriate .binaries news group or on a web site. Replies come in a similar fashion. Some of the images I've "received" are quite pretty in themselves. I guess steganography is really about sending postcards that are truly private.

(c) 1999 by Emily Salinger

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22 April, 1999