A new algorithm can hide messages in your favourite dance music

It encodes information by subtly varying the tempo

It's long been known that secret messages can be included in music through techniques such as backmasking, but now a Polish researcher has developed an entirely new approach. By subtly varying the tempo of a particular type of dance music, he's managed to encode information in a way that's completely inaudible to human listeners.

StegIbiza is an algorithm for hiding information in a type of dance music known as Ibiza, which originates on the island by the same name in the western Mediterranean Sea. Ibiza music is characterized by its trance-like beat, and that's what Krzysztof Szczypiorski, a professor at Poland's Warsaw University of Technology, made use of.

To create his approach, Szczypiorski began by developing a sort of Morse code by which the dots and dashes that would represent letters are converted instead into a faster or slower tempo for a particular beat.

To prove his concept, he used Apple's Logic X Pro music production software to create covers of five popular songs: “Lily was here” by David A. Stewart and Candy Dulfer; “Miracle” by Queen; “Rhythm is a dancer” by Snap!; “So what” by Miles Davis; and “You were the heart's beat” by Andrzej Zaucha.

The songs were arranged without vocals in techno, hip-hop, and trance styles using the instruments available in Apple's software. From there, Szczypiorski embedded the message “steganography is a dancer!” in each song, placed randomly.

Szczypiorski varied the degree to which tempos were altered as part of his encoding technique to see when those changes became discernable to human ears. He then tested his approach in both a studio setting where participants wore headphones and an open-air setting where a DJ was in control. Across both, he found that tweaks of less than 1 percent didn't get noticed at all.

That means that StegIbiza could be a viable means of encoding information in music, and Szczypiorski suggests that software could be created both to code and decode music this way, with potential applications in security.

His paper is now available online.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?