Secret messages can be hidden in music, graphics

July 15, 2004|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Can you remember the days when a child could coax a parent to send away for one of those secret decoder rings? Armed with such a ring, you could write secret messages to your friends, secure in the knowledge that your parents or teachers could never decrypt them.

Although the ring might have become history, your computer offers a sort of modern-day substitute. Today, youths who trade mp3 music files can secretly communicate with one another by embedding hidden text messages inside those files.

The program is called Secret Media from Direct Logic. The current version, Secret Media 2.0 for Windows, lets you hide text messages within audio mp3 and graphic files. Supported files include jpg, mp3, wma, gif, bmp and wav files.

According to Direct Logic, there is plenty of unused room within these files to embed messages without altering the content in any way.

When you launch Secret Media (Windows only), a wizard-style interface guides users in creating and viewing hidden messages. To install a message, select the data file into which it will be placed and type in your message. Secret Media will determine whether there is enough space available.

Reading a hidden message is just as easy, but you'll need a password before the message can be decoded.

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