It’s easy to think of the NFT industry as a quirky and controversial extension of the art industry. Artists can make millions of dollars through NFT sales, but can NFTs be used for something more elusive? More specifically, can you use NFTs to hide data, or is this simply impossible?
What Data Is Stored in NFTs?
NFTs are not just digital photos or videos. Rather, they are tokens that prove ownership of a digital artwork. So, a given NFT will not contain the image or video file of the artwork being purchased. Rather, NFTs are more similar to typical cryptocurrencies (though they are non-fungible).
Within a given NFT, you’ll find metadata, which essentially provides information on other data. Examples of NFT metadata include the NFT’s name, description, and transactional history. The NFT metadata will likely often reference the location of the image, video, or other valuable items in question. For example, a given NFT may contain the URL or IFPS hash that leads to the artwork’s location.
But can you store other kinds of data in an NFT? Is it even possible to secretly hide data in these digital assets?
Can You Hide Data in an NFT?
To answer this question, we’ll need to explore steganography. This is the process of hiding one file inside another. Steganography has been around for thousands of years, long before the NFT industry ever existed.
Early examples of steganography date back to Ancient Greece, but the digital age gave this technique a new medium through which it can work. Even cybercriminals can use steganography to hide malicious files.
Because digital images consist of thousands of tiny pixels, each containing around eight bits (or one byte), they can be very useful in hiding additional data. So, digital art works can be used to hide data. In this sense, various steganographical techniques can be used to secretly store data within a given image file.
The most common steganography method is known as Least Significant Bit (LSB) steganography. As the name suggests, this technique involves hiding data in the least important bits within an image file. But don’t delve deeply into the different kinds of steganography right now, because we have another important question to answer: where do NFTs come into this?
Don’t forget that NFTs are tokens, not images. It’s easy to conflate the tokens themselves with the digital artworks they relate to, but these are two very different things. Therefore, you cannot apply steganography to a literal NFT. However, data can be somewhat concealed within certain kinds of NFT.
This is where Secret NFTs come into play.
What Are Secret NFTs?
Secret NFTs were developed by a company known as Secret. Secret NFTs can be developed on the Secret network, unlike many NFTs that are built on the Ethereum blockchain.
The privacy levels of these NFTs can be adjusted by the user, and both public and private metadata can be stored within. So, when a Secret NFT is being created, the developer has the option of adding private metadata if they wish.
This private metadata is not essential, but can offer perks to the NFT owner. For example, a developer may hide a promotional link, video file, or additional images for the eventual owner to enjoy. So, in the specific case of Secret NFTs, data can be hidden.
But Secret NFTs aren’t just useful for digital art. This kind of NFT can also be used in gaming, paywalls, and even in events ticketing. While this is a pretty new technology, it seems to have some promise for the future.
NFTs Can Hide Data in Certain Scenarios
It’s safe to say that not all NFTs can hide data. While NFT artworks can certainly be used to hide files via steganography, NFTs themselves must be designed in a specific way to allow for the storage of private metadata. But this is possible, and may become more widely seen in the tech industry in the coming years.
Source: Make Use Of