Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Steganography Goes Digital," by Bruce Sterling. The New York Times Magazine,9 December 2001.

This "Year in Ideas" issue includes "Steganography Goes Digital." Sterlingreports on the new and improved method of hidden writing (microdots)---digitalsteganography. Digital pictures are made up of thousands of dots identified byyour computer with a long string of numbers. Digital steganography replacessome of the bits in the characters in each stream, resulting in a picture thatlooks unchanged but which contains a secret payload, a hidden message. Thereis an illustrated example of what appears to be a digital photograph of alandscape: "Encrypted in the binary code of this digital picture is LewisCarroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark." "Stego" messages can also behidden inside digital music, digital text files, or even spam. However, if oneexamines a digital "stego" file closely, or if one logs computer keystrokes,steganography can be detected.

--- Annette Emerson

American Mathematical Society