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Steganography


RenMin
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Recently a cache in the upstate NY area was archived. I say this cause nobody (it seems) expected it and it is one of the toughest and most brilliant in our area. After several years of musings (yes, I said several years), I was able to crack the first part which involved steganograpy. When asked why he archived the cache, the CO said, it no longer met guidelines and had to archive it. Since the only questionable part would be the coords imbedded in a picture I am assuming that was the problem with the cache. However, I know that cachers around the globe use this method to develop puzzles. Is this

method of hiding information against geocaching guidelines? The tool used to crack this picture is free on the web. I can see a problem if you had to pay for the program. Any thoughts? What am I missing?

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Paid software or free software is a separate issue. (Commercial caches aren't allowed either.)

 

The question (based on what you've presented in this thread) is whether the cache required seekers/solvers to download and/or install anything.

 

Yes, that seems to be the question. The answer would be no. I was able to submit picture on a web page that had the decrypt tool. Nothing installed, nothing downloaded.

This makes the archiving of this cache very curious and confusing.

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Recently a cache in the upstate NY area was archived. I say this cause nobody (it seems) expected it and it is one of the toughest and most brilliant in our area. After several years of musings (yes, I said several years), I was able to crack the first part which involved steganograpy. When asked why he archived the cache, the CO said, it no longer met guidelines and had to archive it. Since the only questionable part would be the coords imbedded in a picture I am assuming that was the problem with the cache. However, I know that cachers around the globe use this method to develop puzzles. Is this

method of hiding information against geocaching guidelines? The tool used to crack this picture is free on the web. I can see a problem if you had to pay for the program. Any thoughts? What am I missing?

(emphasis mine)

 

Could it be the actual container location or the way it was hidden was the issue?

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Recently a cache in the upstate NY area was archived. I say this cause nobody (it seems) expected it and it is one of the toughest and most brilliant in our area. After several years of musings (yes, I said several years), I was able to crack the first part which involved steganograpy. When asked why he archived the cache, the CO said, it no longer met guidelines and had to archive it. Since the only questionable part would be the coords imbedded in a picture I am assuming that was the problem with the cache. However, I know that cachers around the globe use this method to develop puzzles. Is this

method of hiding information against geocaching guidelines? The tool used to crack this picture is free on the web. I can see a problem if you had to pay for the program. Any thoughts? What am I missing?

(emphasis mine)

 

Could it be the actual container location or the way it was hidden was the issue?

I thought of that. Part two was a micro hidden up in a tree. You needed to lower some fishing line to get Once you open the matchstick the container empty. A bolt used for a weight

for this hide, if unscrewed held the coords to the next stage. The rest of the stages were difficult hides in local preserves. They seemed like standard geocaching hides that just required

some thinking, sweat, and tears.

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Paid software or free software is a separate issue. (Commercial caches aren't allowed either.)

 

The question (based on what you've presented in this thread) is whether the cache required seekers/solvers to download and/or install anything.

 

Yes, that seems to be the question. The answer would be no. I was able to submit picture on a web page that had the decrypt tool. Nothing installed, nothing downloaded.

This makes the archiving of this cache very curious and confusing.

 

Was the web site a commercial site? Using hypothetical examples: did the picture have to be uploaded to Adobe.com where a demo version of their software would be used, or was it to hobbyist site where steganography techniques are discussed? Based on prior discussions, Groundspeak is very sensitive about what sites are linked to, refered to, or needed to solve puzzles.

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Could it be the actual container location or the way it was hidden was the issue?

I thought of that. Part two was a micro hidden up in a tree. You needed to lower some fishing line to get Once you open the matchstick the container empty. A bolt used for a weight

for this hide, if unscrewed held the coords to the next stage. The rest of the stages were difficult hides in local preserves. They seemed like standard geocaching hides that just required

some thinking, sweat, and tears.

 

I don't know much about upstate NY (in fact, I'm pretty far away), but I'm just playing devil's advocate here. You mention preserves. Could a recent change in the preserves geocaching rules have rendered the hides out-of-compliance?

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Ok, in this case it was a specific software but I did not have to install it and it was free. Is this then OK?

 

Probably not.

 

Puzzles that require installation of specific software are not, and should not, be allowed.

 

Puzzle caches that require the use of a specific website should not be allowed, as the website could be a vector for malicious "drive-by" hacks.

 

Quite aside form the security concerns, in either case, the puzzle is a bad puzzle. Pretty lame to require solvers to read the puzzle hider's mind and find exactly the right site.

 

Now, about steganography in general: if it can be solved without using specific software, then it is fine. I've seen several fine instances of this in caches. If it requires a specific app or website, I agree it should be archived.

 

Note: I myself hid a cache that required the use of a specific steganography program back in 2002 or 2003. I came to see the error of my ways.

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Could it be the actual container location or the way it was hidden was the issue?

I thought of that. Part two was a micro hidden up in a tree. You needed to lower some fishing line to get Once you open the matchstick the container empty. A bolt used for a weight

for this hide, if unscrewed held the coords to the next stage. The rest of the stages were difficult hides in local preserves. They seemed like standard geocaching hides that just required

some thinking, sweat, and tears.

 

I don't know much about upstate NY (in fact, I'm pretty far away), but I'm just playing devil's advocate here. You mention preserves. Could a recent change in the preserves geocaching rules have rendered the hides out-of-compliance?

 

Since the cache is already archived, how about posting a GC code. The infrequently cited geocaching wiki page for New York has information related to placing caches in forest preserves.

 

Theoretically a puzzle that uses steganography can be solved without any software other than standard O/S commands to read the file, plus an understanding of image formats and how messages can be embedded within them.

 

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You asked the CO about the archive, and he responded with, "no longer meets the listing guidelines".

And you've decided that this must be about the stenography?

 

Possibly, or possibly not. The CO's response might be true, or just might have been an answer off the cuff to a question that he didn't really feel like answering.

 

Unlike NYPaddleCacher I'd prefer that you not post a GC Code, at least not without asking the CO if he wants his cache to be dissected in the forums.

 

Re stenography - I agree with fizzymagic

Edited by Isonzo Karst
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