On the 19th of February, as part of our February Explore Programme, Stemettes partnered with GCHQ to learn all about Steganography- or- the art of hiding in plain sight.

Have you ever heard of Steganography? A complicated word that describes how people hide information where other people would never think to look. It is a really useful way of sending information without it being intercepted, as there is very little chance it would be found.

It is the job of GCHQ to find the hidden messages that are being sent between criminals who are taking part in acts such as terrorism and serious crime, and then decipher them.

Steganography has been used many times in the past. For example, a roman emperor hid a message on the back of one of his servant’s heads, and when he sent his servant to the recipient of the message, the servants head was shaved and the message could be read. Another example is when, during WWII, morse code dots were written onto yarn which was knitted into a cardigan, and then unravelled when at the correct location.

Now, people are more likely to use digital steganography, and there are many ways of doing this, such as:

  • Writing secret text in white in the spaces between words
  • Hiding data inside a sound file
  • Hiding data inside an image

Have a go for yourself. Here is an example of what basic steganography may look like:

A text is sent reading “hi Mate, just lEtting you know that i had a lovEly holiday in mauriTiUs laSt week how Are you iT feels like iTs beEN Ages since we Met up!”

Think you know the message they are trying to send?

Thank you to GCHQ for joining the Connect stream on Explore to teach us all about Steganography.

More from GCHQ:
Can You Solve These Puzzles Set By GCHQ Experts?
You Know About MI5 And MI6, But What About GCHQ?

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