After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration responded by requesting that all media outlets use greater discretion when it came to airing statements from Al Qaeda, fearing that the unedited statements might contain secret messages communicated by means of certain words or phrases, combinations of clothing, or discrete nonverbal gestures — in other words: steganography.
In my research I came across one religious extremist site that has set up a page dedicated to using steganography. The title page reads:
Mujahideen, and Islamic Extremist Web site
Mujahideen — Muslim Holy Warriors
The Soldiers of God
Against the Luciferian New World Order — the Dajjal System
And here is an excerpt from the steganography portion of the site:
Encrypted Messages Hidden in Images
Steganography is the art of concealing and sending messages; it has been around as long as people have had secret information to relay. This practice has come a long way since the days of letters with invisible inks carried by midnight messengers or encrypted Morse code delivered over secret radio frequencies. Computers and the World Wide Web provide a new twist on this covert activity. Today's digital cameras produce high-quality images, and the Internet easily and inexpensively carries enormous volumes of information worldwide.
There are hidden messages in the following images; they are invisible to the eye and the images are no different than any other. The messages are encrypted and a password is required to read the messages.
Instructions on how to read the messages and create your own can be found here.
Program to encrypt/decrypt mujahideen.exe (right click, save as) (virus/trojan free, no nasties, we promise)
Actually the mujahideen.exe is really the gifshuffle program, which is described in another section of this book.
The concern at this point is not so much whether terrorists are using steganography for their own devices, but what would reactionary legislation do to the use of steganography by all people? How would this legislation also hinder law enforcement and forensic investigators in charge of detecting this steganography?
Should current stego tools become inaccessible if terrorists are sophisticated enough to use steganography software?
If bin Laden is supposedly using old-fashioned steganography in videotape broadcasts, cracking down on online steganography would do nothing to prevent terrorists or other criminal elements from using more traditional analog means to pass along messages to each other.
While terrorism is certainly one of the more dangerous uses of steganography that face the world today, there are other groups, both good and bad, who could use steganography to keep their communications secret, including:
Corporations with trade secrets to protect
People concerned about government eavesdropping
People who have to circumvent restrictive crypto laws