New Program Makes It Even Easier To Hide & Access Information In Flickr Photos

from the ban-flickr! dept

The practice of hiding data in images -- known as steganography -- is nothing new. People have talked about it for ages, and we've long heard reports of how nefarious organizations used it all the time. But, of course, it can also be used for perfectly good reasons as well -- and now it may have just become a lot easier to use. Glyn Moody points us to the news of a new steganography program that is designed to work easily via Flickr, with the goal of getting news reports to various countries that try to censor the internet. The program, called Collage, supposed makes it quite easy to both encrypt and decrypt information in Flickr photos, knowing that Flickr -- unlike many news sites -- isn't often blocked in countries that censor the internet.

Of course, once word of this program gets out, that could possibly change, but the programmers behind it say they can easily expand it to work with other photo sharing sites as well.

None of this is that surprising, really. In fact, my first reaction on hearing it was to think that this can't be new, as I'm pretty sure other offerings have already allowed such functionality with Flickr. However, it is a nice reminder that every time you try to censor the internet, there will be ways through, and that includes just masking the traffic you want blocked as legitimate traffic, such as Flickr photos.

Filed Under: collage, easy, flickr, steganography

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  1. identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 16 Aug 2010 @ 11:39pm

    The Weakness of Steganography.

    Well, I don't know. Suppose the censor sets up a system to automatically degrade every image file by a substantial amount, say the equivalent of fifty or seventy-five percent lossy compression.

    What the censorship in England during the Second World War did was to paraphrase telegram messages, across the board, in order to mess up codes. "Uncle Jim is sick" might become "Uncle James is ill." Of course the censorship could do this because various wartime restrictions were in effect. The government had taken over foreign trade, with a view to economizing on the limited supply of foreign exchange. A business in London was not allowed to buy things from New York, but had to go through a government agency. The result was that things like price lists, which have to be exact, were no longer being transmitted between businesses in different countries. The British government put together a single big order, and decided who got what out of it.

    The way to hide messages in and out of a country is to bundle them in with the business communications. That way, the censor is at risk of messing up the country's export business.

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