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Hidden Within

Steganography, which can be used in a cyberattack, involves hiding a message by embedding it within a digital picture or music. Researchers will create a multimedia art installation using moiré patterns to hide information in interference patterns to showcase the dangers of steganography.

Project funded by the CCI Hub

Rationale and Background

This project’s overt line of inquiry is an analysis of the ways in which information can be hidden, detected, and extracted.

The subtext is introspection, and the various uses of hidden content:

  • Giving voice to individuals and ideas silenced by oppressive regimes.
  • The spread of conspiracy theories.
  • Cyber technologies’ impact on the natural world.
  • Cyber technologies’ infiltration into human consciousness. 


Researchers will explore and illustrate the ways sensitive data can be encrypted and sent via imagery and sound, together with the “keys” needed to decode the information. 

Moiré patterns appear when two or more patterns are superimposed on top of each other at a slight mismatch, creating a new emergent pattern. 

Researchers have explored the use of these patterns as a cover medium for steganography, a technique that involves hiding information within cover images that appear harmless. However, a hidden form or shape can be revealed through their superposition. 

By leveraging the subtle mismatch of patterns into a moiré pattern, this approach can create an elegant and highly resistant method of hiding sensitive information

Projected Outcomes

This project will reveal the science behind detection and extraction, focusing on the need to defend data and identity security by experiencing a complex cybersecurity research area.

Several early engagement opportunities bring school children from the Southwest Virginia region to the Virginia Tech campus to explore opportunities and consider the breadth of cybersecurity.

Planned presentations include:

  • 2024 Cyber Arts Exhibit in Virginia.
  • 2024 ICAT Creativity + Innovation Day (May, 2024).
  • Virginia Tech Science Festival (Fall 2023).
  • Online and in-person talks.
  • Publications about the collaborative art and research process.