Cryptography vs Steganography
The study of hiding information is called Cryptography. When communicating over an untrusted medium such as internet, it is very important to protect information and Cryptography plays an important role in this. Today, cryptography uses principles from several disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, etc. Steganography deals with composing hidden messages so that only the sender and the receiver know that the message even exists. Since, nobody except the sender and the receiver knows the existence of the message, it does not attract unwanted attention.
What is Cryptography?
Cryptography is the study of hiding information and it is used when communicating over an untrusted medium such as internet, where information needs to be protected from other third parties. Modern cryptography focuses on developing cryptographic algorithms that are hard to break by an adversary due to the computational hardness therefore could not be broken by a practical means. In the modern cryptography, there are three types of cryptographic algorithms used called Symmetric key cryptography, Public-key cryptography and hash functions. Symmetric key cryptography involves encryption methods where both the sender and the receiver share the same key used to encrypt the data. In Public-key cryptography, two different but mathematically related keys are used. Hash functions does not use a key, instead they compute a fixed length hash value from the data. It is impossible to recover the length or the original plain text from this hash value.
What is Steganography?
Steganography deals with composing hidden messages so that only the sender and the receiver know that the message even exists. Since nobody except the sender and the receiver knows the existence of the message, it does not attract unwanted attention. Steganography was used even in ancient times and these ancient methods are called Physical Steganography. Some examples for these methods are messages hidden in messages body, messages written in secret inks, messages written on envelopes in areas covered by stamps, etc. Modern Steganography methods are called Digital Steganography. These modern methods include hiding messages within noisy images, embedding a message within random data, embedding pictures with the message within video files, etc. Furthermore, Network Steganography is used in telecommunication networks. This includes techniques like Steganophony (hiding a message in Voice-over-IP conversations) and WLAN Steganography (methods for transmitting Steganograms in Wireless Local Area Networks).
What is the difference between Cryptography and Steganography?
Cryptography is the study of hiding information, while Steganography deals with composing hidden messages so that only the sender and the receiver know that the message even exists. In Steganography, only the sender and the receiver know the existence of the message, whereas in cryptography the existence of the encrypted message is visible to the world. Due to this, Steganography removes the unwanted attention coming to the hidden message. Cryptographic methods try to protect the content of a message, while Steganography uses methods that would hide both the message as well as the content. By combining Steganography and Cryptography one can achieve better security.