[Windows] Hide files in JPEG images with File Camouflage, a portable program

File Camo2We all have files that we’d like to hide. Some for security reasons and some cause we’re ashamed of them like our naked bodies or shady pasts. Some of us hide these files in deep obscure folders like the windows system folder and rename them along with their extensions. Some of us get incredibly creative. We change the icon and rename into a program that no one really uses, à la Internet Explorer but some of us take more rational approaches like encrypting the file. For those of us who lack any creativity, time or impressive memories, there’s File Camouflage. 

What Is It and What Does It Do

Main Functionality

File Camouflage allows you to hide and encrypt your files into JPG/JPEG images. Basically, it is a steganography program that hides files inside JPG/JPEG images.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Lightweight and simple to use
  • Provides menu items in the Windows context menu that allows easy encryption and decryption on the fly
  • You can choose a specific picture or randomize your selection from a folder

Cons

  • Has a few bugs and kinks
  • You need to register on the developers site to get the full version which also entails signing up for bloatware
  •  Older versions of the application continuously prompt you on start up to register and donate
  • It encrypts only into JPG/JPEG types — other file formats not supported
  • You cannot encrypt entire folders or multiple files
  • Has a few user interface design flaws

Discussion

File Camo1I’ll open up and say I like this app or the general idea behind it. I don’t necessarily like the way it has been presented here though. Its completely portable but I suggest you copy it onto your computer or check your administrative rights along with your antivirus before running it. The first thing it displays when you run the application is a completely tacky registration screen that basically tells you that you have to download some third party software to register the software and unlock the full version. You can choose to omit this section of the application by clicking on the ‘skip’ button but that’s only after its downloaded the third party registration software. There is an option to tick that disallows this screen from ever showing its face again. That’s a plus. It also checks for updates, informs you that its found an update and downloads it without you having much of a say about it.

According to the license text file, this is not free or shareware but donationware. I’ve never run a piece of software that’s proclaimed itself unashamedly as donation-ware. It lives up to its name too. Most pieces of free or shareware software give you an option to donate to the developer like a friend nudging you to give what you can when you can. What File Camouflage does is remind you to donate at every turn like a new age hippy, reminding you of how bad your lifestyle is to the environment and basically guilting you into change. The donation and register feature is actively part of the user interface. you cant go anywhere in the application without seeing it. I encourage donations to developers especially if its an application that you find useful and use on an almost daily basis. Developers need to eat too but I may be wrong in saying this but I feel that an application should have enough to dignity to inspire you to donate rather than beg you.

File CamoThe application is comprised of two major operations; camouflage and de-camouflage; and is tabbed out according to these operations.The camouflage tab is split into three major panels. ‘File to hide’ where you can choose the file you want to hide, ‘Jpeg File image’ where your file will be hidden and ‘Image file to generate’ where the final encrypted file will go. ‘Jpeg File image’ allows you to set a folder default that will randomize image file selection or use a specific image. This default is also used when you’re encrypting files from the windows send to context menu. On ‘Image file to generate’ you can choose to create the image in the source folder or select a specific folder that will also be used as a default for the send to context menu action.

You can choose to encrypt files with a password. It will only prompt you for a password pre-decryption. You can also choose to integrate it with the send to context menu. It gives you four send to actions – Encrypt and decrypt (respectively) with standard password, Encrypt and decrypt (respectively) with a specific password.

De-Camouflage has two sections, one to choose the file to de-camouflage and one to choose the directory. It prompts you if it detects that the file you’re trying to decrypt is not encrypted. A major flaw though is that when it starts an encryption or decryption process, it will bring up a status dialogue that allows you to cancel the operation if you wish. It doesn’t notify you as soon as an operation is complete by prompting you, instead it will plant a notification message just under the donate and register portion of the application. I found this highly annoying. Why put it in a place that I’m trying to avoid eye contact with so you can remind me that the application has done its part, now do your part and donate? With older versions of the application, it will prompt you to register and donate with each run.

Conclusion and Download Link

File Camo0Despite all its annoyances, overall the application is good. Even after writing this review, I still sit here thinking of all the devious things I can use it to hide. Give it a try if you’re interested but I don’t recommend it. Why? Simply because there are so many better steganography programs that do what File Camouflage does but more. Read dotTech’s review of best free steganography programs for Windows to learn more.

By the way, don’t hesitate to comment on what you thought of this review, what you thought of the application if you’ve used it and what alternatives you think may deserve a spotlight.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.10

Supported OS: Windows XP/7/8/8.1

Download size: 108 KB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/45

Is it portable? Yes 

File Camouflage homepage

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7 comments

  1. Midwest guy

    I haven’t tested out this software so can’t comment on it. But I can say that I loved this comment from you: “What File Camouflage does is remind you to donate at every turn like a new age hippy, reminding you of how bad your lifestyle is to the environment and basically guilting you into change.” :)

  2. Mdu
    Author/

    [@Godel] It does come with password encryption but even so, I get what you’re saying.

    I didn’t mean that literally. I was thinking of clips ,moving pictures or documents at the time. I also forgot to mention that when you try to encrypt heavy sized files, 2 GB +, it may run into a memory or stack overflow error. I was going to make a joke like be careful when you’re trying to hide your High Definition porn. Anyway a 2 GB JPEG may look suspicious either way.

    The usage potential for me was that you could simply hide files from a spouse, a person you may share your PC with, your kids or it could be a great way to be romantic and send an encrypted text message to a love interest. In no way do I see this as a great piece of security software, just a quick fun tool.

    Whoa, I wasn’t thinking about hiding stuff from the FBI or CIA, should I be? The NSA has us all so paranoid!

  3. Godel

    The better steg programs will compress then encrypt the data before hiding it in the carrier image. Steganography by itself is not a secure method of hiding files.

    ” . . . we’re ashamed of them like our naked bodies . . . ” implies you might be storing images steganographically.

    The stored data can at most be 10% or 20% of the size of the carrier file, probably less, or the image will be severely degraded, so you are unlikely to be storing images by steganography unless the carrier file is a whopper.

    BTW, the Feds can detect if an image has something hidden in it, but of course they would have to be looking for it.

  4. smaragdus

    Steganography is not secure by default- for me it has always been just a play toy. Yet if one decides to use a steganography tool my advice is to encrypt the text file first.
    I would never touch anything by this developer- My Portable Software- who has been distributing ad-ware for years.

    The term bloat-ware used for such programs is not appropriate- in fact it is an euphemism. Bloat-ware means a program bloated with unnecessary features- for example all products by Nero. While File Camouflage is a typical ad-ware, it tries to swindle the user into installing third-party components in order to get revenue for the developer.

  5. David Roper

    Wonderful article. Thank you, I only wish developers would exploit this jpg feature to store picture information inside. If we could only use Windows to do it – but alas, MicroDud doesn’t care about it. Too busy developing failed projects like Win 8.1. I digress

    Wonderful article. Keep it up.