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Hiding in Plain Sight: Steganography and the Art of Covert Communication [Paperback]

Eric Cole

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Book Description

25 April 2003
  • Explains exactly what steganography is–hiding a message inside an innocuous picture or music file–and how it has become a popular tool for secretly sending and receiving messages for both the good guys and the bad guys
  • First book to describe international terrorists′ cybersecurity tool of choice in an accessible language
  • Author is a top security consultant for the CIA and provides gripping stories that show how steganography works
  • Appendix provides tools to help people detect and counteract stenanography

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“…an interesting read…”(PC Utilities, July 2003)

“…a very good book, giving cogent, lucid explanations…” (Technology & Society, 30 September 2003)

“…a good introduction to an emergent technology…” (ContentPeople, 19 September 2003)

From the Back Cover

Your hands–on guide to understanding, detecting, and using today’s most potent tool for secret communication–steganography

These days, encryption of confidential data and communications is an increasingly important part of doing business. But steganography can take data confidentiality to a whole new level, since it hides encrypted messages in ordinary–looking data files, making the very existence of the messages practically undetectable. Although steganography is not a new field and has played a critical part in secret communication throughout history, few people understand exactly how it works today. This detailed, practical guide changes that–whether your goal is to add an extra level of security to business or government communications or to detect and counter steganography when it’s used by criminals or terrorists.

By teaching you how to protect your vital data and detect information attacks against networks, Cole aims to expose security threats so you can take action to minimize the damage going forward. He explores such topics as:

  • The basics of cryptography and digital water– marking, two companion technologies that are often used in concert with steganography
  • Who is using steganography and some of the ethical and legal challenges our society faces when privacy and security collide
  • The nuts and bolts of using steganography tools and transmitting hidden data over networks
  • Methods you can use to crack steganography and cryptography
  • "Steganography in Action Stories"–fictionalized versions of the kind of secret communication scenarios Cole observed during his years working for the CIA and as a security consultant
  • Ideas for keeping your own communications secure
  • Where steganography is headed in the future

The CD–ROM includes not only valuable original source code for steganography techniques discussed in the book, but also several popular steganography tools, and color versions of original and manipulated images from the book for you to compare.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Though security is nothing new, the way that security has become a part of our daily lives today is unprecedented. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but basic, and the editor should be fired. 23 Dec 2004
By M. Karapcik - Published on
The information is quite good, though not very in depth. The examples are good, as they explain, "See, this really *can* be used in 'real life'." There is also some programming information, so for some parts (nothing critical, just program design), a knowledge of C is useful. Personally, this is my first book on steganography, so the technicality of the information was at a good level (informative, but not buried in jargon or advanced math). I have no programming background, but skipping the program designs was not a detriment in any way.

However... I think the editor should be bludgeoned once or twice with something heavy. I have written some documentation, and the editor did things that I know never to do. First, there are a few grammatical errors, which cause serious problems if you are not paying attention. (In one example, it is said the user (I don't have the book in front of me) "attaches her private PGP key, encrypts it with [the other's] public PGP key, and sends the email". This is after saying many times "NEVER EVER SHARE YOUR PRIVATE PGP KEY!!!". Then, the example goes on to say the recipient "uses the public PGP key, which is attached...". (The first sentence should have read "public PGP key"). In addition to one or two other situations like this, there is also an issue with the inline images. They all appear only at the top and bottom of the page, while the author clearly intends for some to be in paragraphs. The author says things like "as seen in this image:", but the sentence continues, and "this image", the number of which is not given, is elsewhere on the page. Further, many images have the eight resize anchor points and thick border visible from screen shots; these should have been Photoshop'ed out (it's not that hard, I've done it with Paintbrush).

If you are looking for advanced work, skip this. For a basic work, I would give it five stars, but the editors errors are so bad....
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of technical detail & background 11 Nov 2003
By "geek_michael" - Published on
This book does an outstanding job of combining both technical details and background to create a very interesting read. It's not dry like most of the other books on this subject, and I truly enjoyed reading it. The author does a great job incorporating analogies and explainations to demonstrate "practical" applications. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is either new to the subject, or would like a refresher to expand their knowledge of the subject (like myself).
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discover The Art of Hiding Data 10 Feb 2005
By sixmonkeyjungle - Published on
Not knowing much other than the definition of steganography before opening this book I found it very easy to read and very informative.

Eric Cole has a background in working with hidden data and his experience is translated into a book that even users new to the concepts of covert communication can understand. The fictionalized stories of actual events help the reader to understand how these tools are used every day by both the good guys and the bad guys.

The book covers a basic history and background of cryptography and digital watermarking as well as steganography and then gets into more detail about the techniques and concepts of "stego". It does provide source code, but may not be "meaty" enough for steganography experts.

3.0 out of 5 stars Silly editing mistakes and empty information. 1 Sep 2004
By Nick - Published on
Call me silly for expecting more from this. This book rollercoasters from the wildly vague overview to the distractingly specific detail and back again. The author shows promise in writing style but the editing needs some work. Typos and silly mistakes like the majority of the second half of the book's images appear taken from a Word document (or similar) while selected (border, drag handles overlayed) and LOTS of white space.

And how useful is 80 pages of printed source code? The CD is included, just save the trees and my shelf space please.

The author is a seemingly public figure (TV show appearances, etc) so I guess you can only expect so much.

If you're looking for meat on the topic, don't bother. If you want a basic overview in a weekend read, go for it.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 11 Nov 2003
By berg - Published on
I thought that this book was excellent. Normally I highlight specific parts of a book, but this book had so much good information I found my self needing to highlight nearly everything that I read. This book unlike most technical books that i have read in the past makes me want to continue reading, because right away you learn something new. I happen to think that stegonography and cryptography are two extremely interesting subjects. I could tell that the author was also very passionate about the subjects, wich made me even more interested in what i was reading. I reccommend this book to anyone interested in stego and cryptography.
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