Stego and Cypherella
by Sandy Sandfort
STEGO & CYPHERELLA: A Cypherpunk Goddess Presents Us With Digital
Fruit From Her Tree of Knowledge
Cypherella is an ace software developer who has unleashed a subversive
program called Stego, a different kind of encryption software that works
because snoops can't even tell that you are using encryption software.
How's it work? Let's say Slick Willie wants to hide his voluminous
Little Black Book where no one can find it. If he puts it in an
encrypted file on his White House personal computer, anybody who looks
at the files on his hard disk can tell that he is trying to hide
something, and by today's unfortunate "if you have something to hide,
you must be guilty" standards he'd catch hell from the press. Enter
The Stego program uses steganography, a method of disguising messages
within other media. What that means, in practical terms (so Prez can
understand) is that he can camouflage his secret Little Black Book
inside something innocuous: one of Hilary's Vogue pictures scanned into
a Mac PICT file would do nicely.
Every picture stored on a computer is made up of pixels (picture
elements). Depending on how many shades of gray or hues of color you
want to have, a pixel can be expressed using 8, 16, 32 or even more
bits. If the least significant bit is changed, the shade of the pixel
is altered only one-256th, one-65,000th or even less. No human eye
could tell the difference.
What Stego does, is hijack the least significant bit to store only one
bit of a secret message or file. Because digitized pictures have lots
of pixels, it's possible to store lots of data in a single picture.
But what if Hillary also has a copy of Stego? (She might want to hide
her Little Black Book too, you know.) Bill could get busted. And then
he'd really catch hell. Bill should first use a standard encryption
program (like Phil Zimmerman's "Pretty Good Privacy") to encrypt his LBB
before he Stegos the PICT file.
Pretty cool, huh? Bob Packwood would've paid thousands for it. But
because Cypherella wants you to have Stego, she is offering it as
shareware. You get it for free. If you like it, you can send her a
registration fee of $15. For that you'll get her latest updates plus
special features and other valuable goodies.
Software this great could only come from a wicked cool cypherpunk
goddess like Cypherella. Also known as Romana Machado (and sometimes
"Mistress" Romana, Katrina, or just plain Kate), she's an avid reader of
science fiction, and has tried everything from ballet to Trekkie fandom;
from drug research experimentation to medical research; from singing in
baroque choral groups to posing for Playboy (November 1985). When she's
not writing cunning encryption programs, she keeps herself busy as a
software consultant, a model, and sometimes movie extra. She's designed
and made black leather wrist braces to prevent or alleviate carpal
It's only natural that she would eventually hook up with the
Cypherpunks. This self-mockingly-named group vigorously promotes the
use of strong encryption to preserve personal privacy and freedom. It
includes some real hotshots in mathematics, cryptography and computer
science. Yet only a dozen or so of the several hundred Cypherpunks have
actually worked on cryptographic projects. Of those, only Cypherella's
Stego and a small handful of others have actually been finished.
Stego was written for the Macintosh. PC and other versions may soon be
available. To get your copy of Stego, you can FTP it from:
sumex-aim.stanford.edu, in the info-mac/Recent directory as