A digital watermark is digital data that can be embedded into all forms of media content, including digital images, audio, video and even certain objects. Special software is available for embedding imperceptible information via subtle changes to the data of the original digital content. Digital watermarks can be easily detected and read by computers, networks and a variety of digital devices, validating the original content and/or initiating actions.
Digital watermarking relates to a technology known as steganography, which literally means “covered writing.” It is a technique designed to secure a message by hiding that message within another object so that it can be kept secret from everyone except the intended recipient. This is quite different from cryptography that renders the message (which is typically visible or audible) unintelligible to unauthorized viewers to prevent access.
Steganographic messages may or may not be encrypted. Through many advances in the technology, steganography is now successfully used across a variety of industries. Digital watermarks provide the means of hiding steganographic messages for many different purposes.