20 August 2006

More things that fascinate me

It's time for another edition of: Things that fascinate me.

Today's item is Steganography, defined as
the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one apart from the intended recipient knows of the existence of the message; this is in contrast to cryptography, where the existence of the message itself is not disguised, but the content is obscured.
If you read the Wikipedia article, you'll see that steganography isn't new. However, computers have made it more intriguing; hiding messages in images, MP3 files, etc.

On February 5th, 2001, USA Today announced that
[l]ately, al-Qaeda operatives have been sending hundreds of encrypted messages that have been hidden in files on digital photographs on the auction site eBay.com.
They provided no sources to prove this assertion, but it was nonetheless picked up and repeated by many news organizations. No evidence has ever shown this to have actually occurred.

Still, the concept itself is fascinating. Here's a small example. The two JCCS-1 logos below appear to be the same, but the second one has a hidden message.


The second image contains a small text file that says "Congratulations!" for figuring out the images are actually different. Lunch time is over; back to work!
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