Intro: A Few Ways to Hide Data on a Computer
A lot of people can't do more with a computer than type a Word document or make a "picture", so called, on Paint. Of course most people reading this instructable will know a bit more about Windows than that. But even people whose knowledge is limited to browsing the Web have digital secrets they would like to conceal from prying eyes (and chances are, the more you know about computers and related items, the more you will have to hide). This -ible is meant to give a few ideas to people who can really use computers about hoarding information, teach people who know the basics a few ways to hide sensitive data, and perhaps inspire the computer illiterate to learn something (though the last group will most likely never get a chance to read this page).
> A Computer
> A Little Bit of Your Time
> A Little Patience: this is my first instructable.
- This instructable is not meant for people who are so completely "computer illiterate" that they do not understand computer basics, such as how to navigate directories, save documents, etc. If you have trouble saving a Word document to your desktop instead of My Documents, I advise you to learn the simple things first (just opening My Computer and browsing folders is surprisingly informative) before continuing here.
Step 1: Making a “Hole-In-the-Wall”
Open C: and navigate to some little-opened directory. My favorite is C:\WINDOWS\system32, but you could build a Hole anywhere in the Master Drive (or any drive, really). Program Files is another good place; just build the Hole in the files of some random game. Once you have your "Wall" create a new folder (right-click, New, Folder) and name it. If you really want, you can name it "My Hole-In-the-Wall where I store my secret files" but this defeats the purpose. A Hole is supposed to be inconspicuous, so it is best to name it something like "sat" or "pta" (this is why WINDOWS is a good place; it is full of folders with names like "oobe" and "ras"). Now, simply put your files into your new hiding place and leave them there. It is a good idea to change the names of these files if they are really incriminating: use numbers or symbols, or even type the names backward; this way someone poking through your C: won't be tempted to open them if they do stumble upon your Hole-In-the-Wall. Now just memorize the file path and you have a secret folder!
- Search Instructables for "How To Make An Invisible Folder". This is useful too.
Step 2: Building a “Crate”
This method will only allow you store text, whether a sensitive document or the source code of some program. Simply type or paste text into NotePad and save as Whatever.jpg, then change "Text Document" to "All Program Files" and save somewhere. This exports your text into a JPEG picture file. You can also save them as Bitmap (.bmp), PNG (.png), or GIF (.gif) images; simply replace ".jpg" with ".bmp", ".png", or ".gif". If you try to open a Crate with an image viewer, the program should just say something like "No Preview Available", so to retrieve the Crate's contents, you have open NotePad, select File, Open, and navigate to the directory your Crate is located in. Just as you did to build the Crate, change "Text Document" to "All Program Files", and then select your Crate and click "Open". Now you can view, edit, or copy/paste the text concealed inside. Again, it is a good idea to name this file something inconspicuous and store it someplace safe, where your sibling won't "accidentally" delete it.
Step 3: Constructing a “Strongbox”, Part 1
This follows the same idea as a Crate, in that it stores data inside another file, but a Strongbox is password protected. This involves batch, which you can easily learn about from the countless "How-To-Do-Batch" instructables on this site. Simply copy/paste the following into NotePad:
echo Please enter your password.
set/p "pass= >"
if %pass%==%key% goto UnPack
echo That is not the password! Aborting unpack!
echo That is the correct passord!
echo Your data will unpacked and sent here: %dest%
echo Please make sure this file does not already exist befor continuing
echo as this may ruin your data.
echo Unpack complete!
echo Your data can be found here: %dest%
Step 4: Constructing a “Strongbox”, Part 2
Ex: set key=Hello
Also, make sure there is no space between "key=" and your password.
Now the annoying part: packing the contents. Eight lines from the bottom of the script you will see a line that reads "echo $$$$$>>%dest%". "$$$$$" represents a line of text. Type or copy/paste a strand of text here.
Ex: echo Hi>>%dest% (notice the dollar signs are replaced by "Hi"
echo I am really a potato in man's clothing.>>%dest%
For every line in your document you must place "echo" before your words and ">>%dest%" after them (it is much easier to copy "echo $$$$$>>%dest%" and paste it once for each line, and then go back and insert your words).
Ex: echo Potatoes are not geniuses.>>%dest%
echo El Mano is a genius.>>%dest%
echo Therefore, El Mano is not a potato.>>%dest%
- Make sure not to change ">>%dest%" or the program won't unpack correctly.
- I can't get this to work with pictures, sounds, executables, movies, and the like. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please post them.
Step 5: Creating a “Cache”, Part 1
Crazy Leprecaun has an entire -ible on this process (which you can find here: https://www.instructables.com/id/How_to_Hide_Files_Inside_Pictures/), but I wrote a batch file that makes it a little easier than using Command Prompt. This simply stores an archived folder inside a picture. First, copy/paste the following script into NotePad and save as a batch program (name.bat, All Program Files):
title Cache Creator[
echo Please enter the name of the Cache.
echo (must be an image, must contain no spaces)
set/p "cache= >"
if Exist %cache% goto InB
echo The file could not be found.
echo Cache: %cache%
echo Please enter the name of the Contents.
echo (must be a zipped file, must contain no spaces)
set/p "contents= >"
if Exist %contents% goto InC
echo The file could not be found.
echo Cache: %cache%
echo Contents: %contents%
echo Please enter the Destination.
echo (must contain no spaces, must have same extension as Cache)
set/p "destination= >"
echo Cache: %cache%
echo Contents: %contents%
echo Destination: %destination%
echo Do you wish to build a Cache? y/n
set/p "com= >"
if %com%==y goto Hole
if %com%==n goto InA
echo That is not a valid command.
copy/b "%cache%"+"%contents%" "%destination%"
echo Cache created.
Step 6: Creating a “Cache”, Part 2
Now follow Leprecaun's instructions: compress the files you want to hide in an archive such as "Archive.7z" (7z Portable is a very good archiver; WinRar is too, but you have to buy it). The file-to-be-hidden MUST be an archive if you ever want to retrieve its contents! Second, choose a picture to be the Cache; I like using PNG and BitMap images, which you can easily make using Paint. Place both your archive and your image in a directory with no spaces (C:\z), and run Cache Creator. Type in the file path for your Cache (C:\z\Image.png) and press ENTER. Now type in your contents (C:\z\Archive.7z). You can't enter the archive before the image; if you do, the picture will not be displayed when you open the file and someone might delete your Cache, thinking it is a mistake. Finally, enter your Cache's destination, the place it will be created in, and make sure to include the same extension as the image you used. I use the same folder as my archive (in this case C:\z\Cache.png). Type in "y", hit ENTER, and you have a Cache! To retrieve its contents, open up 7z Portable/WinRar/Whatever, select your cache, and hit "Extract". If you password-protected your archive (a very good idea) you will have to enter the password. The resulting files should be exactly the same as the ones you buried in your Cache.
Step 7: Putting on a "Mask"
A Mask is simply a file that has been renamed, so it won't function in a way that someone will want.
To make one, open Command Prompt and type "rename *YOUR FILE HERE* *THINGIE.EXTENSION*"
Example: rename C:\MyProgram.exe C:\MyProgram.txt
Not only does this change the file's name, it changes the extension. Instead of opening "MyProgram" as an application, the computer will use NotePad/WordPad to view it. It is now hidden from plain sight. To return it to its original state, once again type "rename *YOUR FILE HERE* *THINGIE.EXTENSION*", and give the file its original extension (in this case ".exe") once more.
rename C:\MyProgram.txt C:\MyProgram.exe
You can rename any file/program/document so it pretends to be anything else. Changing something to "Name.fil" or Name.dat" is a good way hide it, as Files and Databases are difficult to open without the right software.
This rename thing has another incredably useful trick: you can use it to email things that your provider wouldn't normally allow. My email (Gmail) doesn't allow the sending of Executables for security reasons, but you can rename an Executable as a text file or something, and then attac/send it. The reciever can then simply rename it ".exe".
Step 8: Building a “Storage Bin”
- Storage Bin Creator is not a virus. If for some reason it harms your computer in any way, I'm extremely sorry. It's a compiled batch file with no other purpose then to create a hidden folder and a PadLock file to open it.
Step 9: Nothing Is Ever Secure!
I hope this Instructable was worth the time you spent reading (and perhaps experimenting with) it. If you have any comments, questions, ideas, or useful facts, please post them.
Several people have commented that these methods of concealment would never hide anything from the police/FBI/CIA/NSA/Computer Technicians. This is very true. To quote myself, nothing is ever, ever, completely secure. If you can access something, there are probably six ways to crack, trick, or manipulate it. These are ways you could hide things from nosy family members, coworkers, and/or friends, ways to hide things like the family picture you use to blackmail your brother, and the book you're writing but are too embarrassed to ever let your mom see. If you really want to hide something, use TrueCrypt (look for Instructables adout it; I didn't mention it because I really haven't figured it all out yet).
I wrote this Instructable as a way to help people who need to hide data but don't know how. I can't control what you do with this information, but please respect me, my ideas and yourself and don't use it to hide anything thoroughly sordid.
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