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[Windows] Best free steganography program (i.e. hide files within other files)

A popular way for people to protect their files is encryption, using programs like TrueCrypt and AxCrypt [1] to prevent unauthorized access to data. The only problem with encryption is it is typically obvious that a file is encrypted. Steganography is a different method of preventing unauthorized access to data and files that solves that problem.

What steganography does is it allows you to do is hide files within other files. For example, you can hide a Word file inside an JPG image. On the outside the JPG image is a normal JPG image; it even opens and is viewable like a JPG image. However, under the JPG image is the hidden Word file which can be extracted by the people who know it is there.

This article will help you find the best free steganography program for Windows.

This review is part of our Best Free Windows Software [2] section. Check out more articles on the best free Windows programs from here [2].

Table of Contents

Best Free Steganography Program

2013-04-14_212229 [6]Program Name: OpenPuff [7]

Developer: Cosimo Oliboni

Download Size: 5 MB

Version Reviewed: 4.00

Supported OS: Windows

Pros

Cons

Discussion

TrueCrypt is known and respected as one of the best, if not the best, encryption tools primarily due to how it goes above and beyond encryption — all the other features it has are what make TrueCrypt special, like plausible deniablility. Similarly, OpenPuff is an excellent steganography program not just because it can do steganography; there are tons of programs that can do steganography. Rather, OpenPuff is exemplary because it goes above and beyond steganography thanks features such as its multiple layers of protection, ability to use decoy files, ability to split one file across multiple carriers, portability (yep, doesn’t need to be installed), and more.

In fact, my two favorite features of OpenPuff are plausible deniability (the decoy feature) and its ability to split one hidden file across multiple carriers. These two features are awesome simply because they allow for added security that most other steganography programs lack. The other feature I like in OpenPuff is the fact that it uses four layers of protection to ensure your hidden files stay hidden until you unhide them with OpenPuff; OpenPuff encrypts, scrambles, whitens, and encodes all hidden files, making it extremely (extremely) hard for someone to gain access to your files without your password.

In terms of features, OpenPuff rocks. I cannot think of or find a steganography program that provides more security than OpenPuff. Where OpenPuff falls down is its usability.

You see OpenPuff has a butt-ugly interface and has options that are not necessarily self explanatory. It isn’t that the program is impossible to use or understand, but newbies to OpenPuff will definitely scratch their head asking themselves “what does this do” at multiple stages of the program; however, once you learn OpenPuff, it is a breeze.

When you first run the program, you can prompted with the main-program window that has the following options:

2013-04-14_213107 [8]When you go to Hide, you are prompted with the Data Hiding window in which you must specify five parameters:

Once you are done with that, you hit the Hide Data button and OpenPuff hides your file inside the carrier(s) you selected. The whole process is a bit confusing at first but becomes second nature if you use the program often.

Overall, OpenPuff has its shortcomings but it is the best free steganography program I have ever used. Highly recommended.

Runner Up

2013-04-14_231206 [9]Program Name: OurSecret [10]

Developer: SecureKit.net

Download Size: 1.7 MB

Version Reviewed: 2.5.5

Supported OS: Windows

Discussion

OurSecret is another very good steganography program. The best way I can describe OurSecret is by comparing it to OpenPuff; OurSecret is everything OpenPuff [3] isn’t and is nothing that OpenPuff is. Confused? Let me explain.

OurSecret is extremely easy to use. You install the program, run it, select your carrier, select the file(s) you want to hide (you can hide any type of file), pick a password, and hide the file(s). It is as easy as that. OurSecret has no file size limit on the files you hide, you can hide multiple files inside one carrier, there is no size limit on how much data a carrier can hold (i.e. you can potentially hide a file inside a carrier that is larger than the carrier itself), and you can use any file type as a carrier; all these are features missing in/shortcomings of OpenPuff.

The tradeoff is OurSecret doesn’t provide all the enhanced security features like OpenPuff, such as four layers of protection, multiple carriers, multiple passwords, decoys, etc. The idea here is this: OurSecret is more user-friendly while OpenPuff is more secure. Which one you use depends on what you desire.

That said, there is one thing I want to point out. OurSecret is not portable, which is fine. What isn’t fine is the fact that it comes packed with crapware; I counted three crapware offers while installing OurSecret. And not only is there crapware but the crapware is the type that appear to be part of the installation of OurSecret and you must explicitly click ‘Decline’ to avoid them — they aren’t the avoid-by-unchecking-checkbox type. So be on the watch for that if you decide to grab OurSecret.

Overall, despite the crapware, OurSecret is a good option for people that want simple and straightforward steganography.

Other Alternatives