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Learn steganography with online courses and programs

Master the ability to conceal important information in plain sight. Explore how to learn steganography with edX.

What is steganography?

Steganography is a method for hiding information in a way that also conceals its existence.Footnote 1 Some of the most rudimentary forms of the practice involve the use of invisible ink, but modern steganographic techniques allow you to hide complex secret messages in image, video, and audio files. It's often confused with cryptography, but cryptography makes the original message difficult for the unintended party to decode, whereas steganography makes it seem like there isn't a message at all.

Consider a scenario where you want to send a secret message, but the only avenue you have for communication is via text. With steganography, you could choose your words carefully so that if you took the first letter in each sentence and arranged them in order, you'd decode the message. By hiding in plain sight, it's easier to avoid detection.Footnote 2

Steganography | Introduction Image Description

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How is steganography used?

Common uses for steganography include:

  • Watermarking: Anyone that creates a digital item of significance can hide information containing their name, the date, etc., inside it that says they're the owner. This is useful in proving ownership or copyright down the line.

  • Safeguarding trade secrets: Businesses that are likely targets of corporate espionage can use these techniques to hide the presence of vital information as it moves across their networks. Even if it falls into the wrong hands, the unauthorized party would be less likely to find it.

  • Evading censorship: Activists in regions with high levels of suppression use these techniques to hide their communication in a way that doesn't raise any red flags.

Steganography course curriculum

In a steganography course, you can learn about the five major types of steganography: text, image, audio, video, and network. Courses are then likely to cover the different techniques for hiding information, such as:Footnote 3

  • Least significant bit

  • Pixel value differencing

  • Modulus function

As you learn about steganography and the different methods, you will begin to develop an understanding of how to choose different methods depending on the kind of data you're working with and the item you want to use as the cover file. You might also learn how to build steganography decoders or similar tools. 

edX is here to support you on your educational journey, with a range of instructional formats to fit different learners’ needs. A boot camp can provide flexible hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses may be more geared toward professionals. You may also be able to study broader topics related to steganography as part of a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Explore the different options made available through edX. 

Explore steganography jobs

Different career options where you could apply your knowledge of steganography include:

  • Digital forensics analyst: This is a specialist that collects and analyzes evidence following cyber incidents. They locate exploited vulnerabilities and try to identify the source of steganographic attacks.Footnote 4

  • Cybersecurity analyst or engineer: These professionals focus on digital security infrastructure. In this case, you could learn how to integrate anti-steganography tools into a system.Footnote 5

  • Intelligence analyst: These analysts collect information and facilitate sharing it safely across networks.Footnote 6

  • Exploitation analyst: Professionals in this role find ways to penetrate targeted networks without detection.Footnote 7

  • Security Operations Center (SOC) analyst: This role is somewhat similar to a cybersecurity analyst, but they typically respond to attacks after they've happened.Footnote 8

Each of these roles has different educational and skills requirements. You may be able to build relevant skills and knowledge in a cybersecurity boot camp or even a coding boot camp depending on the position. However, some employers may seek out candidates with higher level degrees. Before deciding on which educational path is right for you, research potential positions you hope to attain and align your learning with your career goals. 

How to use steganography in your career

After completing a comprehensive steganography course, you can apply the knowledge to strengthen digital security, either in a preventative or responsive capacity.

If you're in a company where trade secrets are a major target, you could use the techniques to develop covert communication channels. For example, a tech company can use it to coordinate operations between R&D and corporate on a new product before it's ready to file for a patent.

Digital steganography has a wide variety of uses on offensive and defensive fronts, and companies could explore both possibilities. Red team, blue team, and purple team security ops exercises are a good way to do this, where one team is on offense, another is on defense, and a third one is in the middle, respectively.Footnote 9