FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NOISEBATH

1a. What are the basic principles behind NOISEBATH?
Answer: Security is a form of conflict, and the best results in any conflict are achieved when it is met with a creative, intelligent strategy. The basic strategy behind NOISEBATH is a state-of-the-art technology with complex defensive techniques employing overt deception, diversion, and confusion and aimed at defeating each of the multiple elements that make up an acoustic surveillance exploitation system. These elements are microphones and pickups, recording, computer filtering and processing, human listening and transcription, and credibility and value of any final product that an opponent might try to produce. While acknowledging the advanced eavesdropping technology and techniques present today (and sure to improve tomorrow), the NOISEBATH masking signal and delivery systems were designed using the principles of acoustical physics and psychoacoustics with these strategic criteria in mind:
a) maximize the area where bugs are ineffective by allow sound fromthe speakers to mix as quickly as possible with the acoustic signal of the target being protected;
b) create a complex signal for an attacker to deal with,
c) reduce the effectiveness of acoustic pick-up devices,
d) maximize the difficulty of computer processing to filter and sort target signals,
e) hinder final listening by human transcribers and
f) reduce the value of any intelligence that might ultimately be derived by creating deception from an inseparable mixture of bogus masking material and indistinguishable segments of target material.

1b. How does NOISEBATH work? What does it do?
Answer: The NOISEBATH typically consists of one, two or more stereo compact disc players connected to speakers. On each NOISEBATH CD are two distinct and unique channels of the NOISEBATH masking signal, and each NOISEBATH CD can be divided, by computer indexing, into 20 or more programs of varying length. This is similar to conventional music CD’s, where each song is a separate program, but the NOISEBATH CD’s have no silent spaces between programs. During use, each multiple track CD unit plays its NOISEBATH disc’s programs in a random order and continues repeating in a random order. Systems with real time non deterministic generation of the NOISEBATH masking signal can be ordered as a custom product.

Simply stated, NOISEBATH uses four or more independent, unique, and non-deterministic channels of specially formulated sound, spatially radiated outward from a protection zone around the target. Each channel is comprised of two parts. The first part is special noise – shifting pink noise variant which has been divided into at least 10 different frequency bands, each of which is constantly, in randomly varying amounts and at varying intervals of time, shifting in amplitude relative to the other frequency bands. The second part of the noise formula is a mix of typically 4 to 8 human voice and/or vocal signals. Voice signals are coherent, intelligible speaking voices, while vocal signals may sound like voices but may or may not be coherent or intelligible. Thus, for example, with four such channels used, a total of four randomly shifting pink noise variants and 16 to 32 voice and/or vocal signals are radiated.

1c. Why is NOISEBATH better than other masking systems such as white noise, pink noise or even so called babel tapes?
Answer: The NOISEBATH signal delivery system is revolutionary and incorporates new technology. The placement of the four (or more) amplifier/speaker units creates a “bubble” or “zone” within which the user(s) may comfortably speak. Each CD player has a two-channel volume control, and each amplifier/speaker unit has a volume control, allowing the user to finely adjust according to comfort level and environment. The CD players play each noise formula disc’s programs in random order. The use of two discs simultaneously means each player has a total of no less than 20 different and unique programs of varying length that will be played in random order and in random combinations. This is part of the NOISEBATH system’s unpredictable and non-deterministic nature. If a user has a selection of discs, randomly chooses two for use, and then plays the programs on those discs in random order and in random combinations making the possible variations extremely large.

The best masking material for human voices is other human voices not noise or music. The NOISEBATH formula expands upon this principle and incorporates 4 to 8 changing voice and/or vocal signals per channel, and with four such channels in use (2 discs), that means 16 to 32 voice and/or vocal signals in the environment at any given time, in addition to the voice(s) being protected. As mentioned before, voice signals differ from vocal signals in that voice signals are comprised of intelligible human speech, while vocal signals sound like human speech but may or may not be intelligible. Another principle of psychoacoustics states that the ear-to-brain sensory input apparatus always, at least involuntarily, seeks to make sense of sensory input data. If none of that data is intelligible for more than a certain period of time, the input apparatus will seek to shut out that data. If, however, that data provides even occasional bits of intelligibility, the ear-to-brain sensory input apparatus will continue to analyze the entire incoming body of data, seeking out more bits of intelligibility. This is the reason an arbitrary limit of 32 voice/vocal signals is set. The use of huge numbers of such signals would render all of them unintelligible, and this would be contrary to the strategic goals of diversion and confusion.

The use of signals similar to the protected signal by itself, such as a single babel tape constitutes some degree of diversion and confusion but significantly less than NOISEBATH. If a constantly varying number of those signals is to a varying degree intelligible or unintelligible, the ear-to-brain apparatus will constantly be analyzing the entire body of incoming data, weeding out the unintelligible bits, seeking out theintelligible bits, diverted from the protected signal and confused by all that it hears. This leads to one of the benefits of NOISEBATH ; the user(s), knowing there is nothing of value within the masking noise, quickly and involuntarily shut out the “data” (some users have even described it as slightly hypnotic and tranquilizing), while unwanted eavesdroppers, knowing there is something of value somewhere within the combination of masking noise and target signal, voluntarily force the ear-to-brain apparatus to organize and analyze the entire body of incoming data. Within a short period of time this causes fatigue and anxiety, both well-known symptoms of extreme sensory overload.

1d. Why doesn’t NOISEBATH use direct transducers on windows and walls?.
The spatial radiation of the NOISEBATH masking formula further increases the non-deterministic and unpredictable nature of the signal, and further increases the difficulty of penetration. Because no less than four different, unique and constantly changing signals are independently, spatially radiated outward from the protected signal source, the signals mix spatially to different degrees and in different proportions throughout the environment. This means the noise “bath” has a unique spectral signature (amplitude vs. frequency graph) at each and every point in the environment. Hence, a listening device in one corner of a room will monitor a different signal than a listening device in another corner, or anywhere else. This was the primary purpose in using spatial radiation. Other alleged masking systems often use solid transducers – their masking is radiated directly into as many surfaces as possible, or at least the ones in which listening devices will “probably” be placed. While this may offer some small degree of comfort and convenience, it renders such systems ineffective if not completely useless.The reasons are many. First, it is very difficult, not to mention prohibitively expensive, to directly transduce into all possible surfaces in a given environment, especially given the micro-miniature nature of today’s listening devices and their consequent ease ofconcealment. Second, the listening device(s) may be isolated from any surface. Third,such a system does not protect against a variety of the newer eavesdropping technologies and techniques, such as laser microphones and microwave bombardmentand demodulation. Fourth, and most important, direct transduction tends to isolate the masking signal from the protected signal, rendering itself vulnerable to a process called inverted phase addition. In this process, the masking is isolated from the protected signal. The masking signal’s phase is then inverted, creating a “negative” masking signal, which is then added to the original masking signal. The two cancel each other out, leaving only the target signal, totally unprotected. The use of direct transduction does half the work for the bad guys! NOISEBATH, because it employs independent spatial radiation of multiple, different signals, makes isolation of those signals from the protected signal extremely difficult. Any attempt to use this process would result in the cancellation of the protected signal along with its masking signals. Further, any spatially radiated signal is subsequently transduced into all exposed surfaces. The NOISEBATH signals will transduce into surfaces in varying proportions, according to their position in the environment, along with the protected signal, thereby preventing signal isolation.

Also contact us for the papers “How is NOISEBATH Superior to White Noise and Pink Noise?” and “The NOISEBATH Theory.”

2. Can you hear NOISEBATH? Aren’t there some systems that mask but you can not hear?
Answer: Yes, you can hear NOISEBATH because it is an active acoustic masking system. There are systems that have signals outside the acoustic range, such as microwaves, however, these are ineffective against a large group of surveillance systems leaving the target exposed while believing they are protected.

3. Why do you use pink noise?
Answer: NOISEBATH uses pink noise in a unique way. The NOISEBATH source masking signal splits the pink noise spectrum into various frequency bands which then are deliberately and constantly varied in energy from band to band and with the energy levels completely different from and uncorrelated with the pink noise levels in the same or similar bands in other NOISEBATH masking channels playing at the same time. The NOISEBATH method creates an unrelated and continuously varying in energy signal in each band making it more difficult for microphones to record and computers or devices to filter out the masking and recover the target signal. The use of pink noise ensures that a maximum of acoustical material is competing for pickup by any surveillance devices and thereby reduces the effectiveness of microphones and other listening devices.

4. Isn’t all the security of NOISEBATH contained in the CD disc?
Answer: No. All the security of NOISEBATH is not contained in the CD disc. NOISEBATH is a system consisting of acoustic source material and a playback system. Both need to be utilized correctly to achieve maximum effectiveness. It is true that a key element in NOISEBATH is the acoustic masking source material which incorporates acoustic elements containing actual voices and synthetically generated vocal sounds which can be in various languages or dialects, or even the prerecorded voice of the actual targets. However, the creation of a complete 3 dimensional protection zone or “bubble” around the target, that is as small as practical and has high enough volume , is also a vital element in NOISEBATH’s effectiveness.

5. Is the CD player and disc a standard one or are they modified?
Answer: Most are standard while a few are modified. The standard ones are to reduce cost.

6. Can the disc be copied? What prevents someone from making unauthorized copies?
Answer: Yes, some of the discs can be copied though it is a violation of the patents and of international copyright law to do so as well as a violation of the NOISEBATH license. Because users are often very senior persons, unauthorized copies put them in legal risk and copies may not contain all of the NOISEBATH masking formula.

7. How loud does NOISEBATH have to be to be effective?
Answer: This varies with room size and materials, speaker placement, target’s voice level and the particular location of the microphones or items reflecting the signal. We recommend introducing new users to NOISEBATH at a low level so they become used to the signal and then gradually increasing it to a level that is as loud as possible but acceptable to the participants. Also the closer the voices on the masking disc match the targets’ voices in characteristics, inflection, language, and dialect, the more effective NOISEBATH is and the lower it can be played to achieve the same level of protection. A rough rule of thumb is if a listener standing outside the protection zone can not understand what is said inside the bubble, then a surveillance system with a pickup in the same place as the listener will probably be defeated by NOISEBATH.

8. Doesn’t the noise annoy some of the users?
Answer: A very few people are annoyed. Most get used to it quickly. Those that refuse to use NOISEBATH remain vulnerable.

9. Why is NOISEBATH needed if we have special technical sweeps and inspections for bugs?
Answer: Sweeps and technical inspections by qualified people are important because they can find bugs (which can be used to deceive an opponent) and hence reduce the risk of exploitation, they can confirm someone is under surveillance and heighten awareness, and can lead to someone on the inside who is collaborating in compromising sensitive information. However, there are some systems that sweeps and non destructive inspections can not find, such as switchable bugs buried within a normal component of building construction, external lasers, fiber optic probes, long plastic tubes or special air chambers. Also, unless 100% physical security is maintained after a sweep and inspection a bug can be easily replaced.

10. Who has tested NOISEBATH?
Answer: Various government laboratories.

11. Who has used NOISEBATH?
Answer: Presidents, diplomats, cabinet ministers, very senior military officials, a wide variety of business executives ( in offices, homes and while traveling), trial judges, law enforcement officials planning sensitive operations and arrests, and counseling clinics to protect patient privacy.

12. Are there any testimonials?
Answer: Yes, see the testimonial sheet in the NOISEBATH literature

13. Are there any references that will confirm NOISEBATH works well?
Answer: References available to a very restricted set of authorized government representatives.

14. How many speakers should be used? What direction should the speakers be facing?
Answer: A minimum of 4. They should be facing the vulnerable areas such as doors, drop cei ings, open vents and windows so that a complete protection zone is created around the target. Six speakers enables the floor and ceiling to be covered which is usually desirable. A maximum of eight speakers can be used with a single NOISEBATH 4000.

15. Does using NOISEBATH guarantee that a meeting or conversation is protected?
Answer: No system can guarantee protection. If a bug is within the protection bubble or the masking level is too low to cover the target signal then NOISEBATH will probably not protect. Because NOISEBATH is the most effective system we know of, when used properly it provides better protection than anything else.

16. Will NOISEBATH protect against someone in a meeting or conversation from using a pocket tape recorder to record the meeting from within the NOISEBATH protection bubble?
Answer: We make no claims that NOISEBATH will prevent this. However, informal testing has shown that NOISEBATH reduces the effectiveness of any recording so NOISEBATH should be used in any case.

17. Will NOISEBATH protect against someone in a meeting or conversation from broadcasting the meeting with a cellular phone that is on and transmitting from within the NOISEBATH protection bubble?
Answer: We make no claims that NOISEBATH will prevent this. However, informal testing has shown that NOISEBATH reduces the effectiveness of a cellular telephone transmitting from inside the protection bubble so NOISEBATH should be used in any case.

18. How effective is an American English disc in masking other languages and dialects?
Answer: The closer the language and dialect of the masking disc is to that spoken by the target(s) the more effective the masking. Independent testing has shown that American English is surprisingly effective for masking several different languages but we always recommend using masking discs with voices as close to the language, dialect and voice characteristics, such as male or female, of the target(s).

19. How effective is a disc in the language of the speaker?
Answer: This is highly effective. The closer in dialect, accent, inflection, and voice characteristics a masking disc is to the target’s voice the more effective NOISEBATH is. We always recommend when possible that a masking disc in the language of the target(s) be used.

20. How effective is a disc using the actual voice of the target?
Answer: This is the ultimate in protection. When the masking disc is a custom disc or regional disc containing prerecorded segments of the voice or voices of the target or targets, independent testing has shown that if the system is set up and used properly any recovery is extremely difficult or impossible. Also, the use of signals similar to the protected signal create a large degree of diversion and confusion. The use of signals identical to the protected signal creates high uncertainty in any transcribed output from an audio surveillance system. Heads of state and other VIP’s often employ look-alikes, body doubles, multiple and identical limousines, and other such tactics as security measures. The same principle applies here making the value of any transcription low since no one can prove if the target’s voice was spoken during the actual meeting or was recorded previously and came from the masking disc.

21. Is there a NOISEBATH system for vehicles?
Answer: Yes. We can put NOISEBATH systems in special vans, limousines, or standard vehicles.

22. Is a fixed NOISEBATH system more secure than the portable one?
Answer: Not necessarily. It depends upon the environment, the threat, and the various NOISEBATH systems being compared. Fixed systems can use more sophisticated NOISEBATH systems with more channels, with more shifting pink noise variants and more voices/vocals (or other diversionary signals), thus increasing not only the degree of protection but also the area of protection. However, some fixed systems are designed to protect against overhearing by co workers or visitors, or to protect the privacy of personnel sensitive discussions but not against advanced computer processing. Both fixed and portable systems may be customized to accommodate any environment and any combination of a number of user voices or other signals.

23. If someone steals a NOISEBATH disc will it compromise the system’s security?
Answer: No, but obviously it can not help the security and depending upon the circumstances may could weaken security. Also it could help to introduce a bogus masking disc that could be exploited. Fixed NOISEBATH 5000 system or a NOISEBATH 4000 systems will not be defeated if someone steals a disc since the randomization of playback and the various combinations are very large.

Stealing a NOISEBATH 900 disc could help an attacker but if the threat is that sophisticated then the NOISEBATH 4000 should be used anyway. In any case we recommend the periodic introduction of new updated masking discs to ensure legitimate NOISEBATH material is used and as a precaution against the exploitation of a system that is operated at marginal levels or less than optimum speaker placement.

24. What is the warranty?
Answer: One year on all manufacturing defects. See our terms and conditions.

25. What does it cost?
Answer: Costs are determined by our resellers and distributors and vary with type of system, type of disc, taxes and duties, and number of systems purchased.

26. Is a fixed system more expensive than a portable one?
Answer: NNo. Prices depend upon the system model, configuration and options.

27. How do you determine the design of a fixed system?
Answer: There is a three page NOISEBATH 5000 system data collection sheet used to record the initial data used to design a fixed system. Factors include the area to be protected, the type of construction, the value of the information to be protected and the threat.

28. Is a test using the American English discs valid in determining the security level?
Answer: Such a test provides a lower limit on the security. The closer the target language is to the language of the masking disc of the test the better and more accurate the test results. Also it depends upon which American English are used. There are several versions with improvements made to the ones manufactured to according to an earlier formula which we have since improved upon.

29. Are equipment sounds really vulnerable? When do they need to be masked?
Answer: Yes. For example, masking should be used when highly sensitive material is being entered into a computer via a keyboard in a location likely to be under advanced acoustic surveillance or during extremely important negotiations. Also it can be important to mask the acoustics of someone typing in a password to access sensitive data.

30. How does NOISEBATH mask equipment acoustics?
Answer: When the objective is to protect against an adversary exploiting sounds from a target equipment, such as the sounds of keys on a typewriter or computer keyboard being struck, the NOISEBATH masking material contains actual and artificially generated equipments sounds (i.e. dummy intelligence signals). These masking sounds mimic the sounds from the target equipment. An example of dummy intelligence signals is previously recorded sounds from equipment keyboards. These dummy intelligence signals when incorporated in the masking sounds and played in a properly set up NOISEBATH system make recording and subsequent computer processing and separation of the acoustic mixture of target and masking sounds extremely difficult.

31. How do you select the most suitable NOISEBATH system?
Answer: This should be decided with your NOISEBATH reseller who will consider such factors as price, portability, the threat, the value and type of information spoken, and the languages and dialects spoken by the target persons.

32. During the demonstration I heard some of the words being spoken. Doesn’t that mean NOISEBATH isn’t effective?
Answer: No. Of course, if NOISEBATH is played at too low a volume that may be true but an occasional word that a person hears does not mean NOISEBATH is not working because the human ear and brain are excellent filters. The human ear and listening devices, primarily microphones, are very different in nature and capability. The human ear has far greater capabilities in both dynamic range and frequency response. Dynamic range is defined as the relative distance between the quietest perceivable sound and the loudest tolerable sound. Frequency response is defined as the relative sensitivity to various frequencies in a given spectrum. The human ear has a dynamic range of roughly 120 DB (sound pressure levels above 115 dB become painful) and a frequency response sensitive between 15 Hz and 16 or 17 KHz. Most of the intelligibility of voices is carried between 150 HZ and 3500 HZ. Microphones have varying dynamic ranges from a carbon=s 30dB to and optical microphone=s 140dB. The microphones used in electronic listening devices, usually small ones, generally have a dynamic range of 45 or 50 dB, and a frequency response peaking at about the vocal frequencies (900 to 3000 Hz) and dropping off precipitously above and below them. Simply stated, this means that except for the newest optical microphones, they are far more frequency specific and far less capable of handling large changes in volume level. The human ear has a tiny muscle, the tensor tympani, which involuntarily loosens or tightens the eardrum according to the power level of sound, thereby adjusting the ear’s sensitivity. These adjustments can occur very quickly. Microphones have no such control over their sensitivity, and sudden, unpredictable changes in volume level will cause a signal to drop below a microphone’s pickup level or surge above its distortion level. Additionally, the tiny vibration-sensitive hairs which line the fluid-filled cochlea of the ear are directly linked to the nervous system and are sensitive to a wide frequency spectrum. The brain is capable of damping the signals of certain groups of hairs and nerve endings, thereby being frequency selective to a certain degree.

33. Is it true that listening to NOISEBATH makes a transcriber’s brain hurt?
Answer: Two known principles of psychoacoustics are: 1) As the similarity of sounds increases, the ability of the human ear to distinguish between them proportionally decreases, and 2) as the number of disparate sound sources increases, the intelligibility and recognizability of each of those sound sources proportionally decreases. In other words, the ear-to-brain sensory input apparatus is limited not only in its ability to determine distinguishing characteristics, but also in its ability to organize and analyze those distinguishing characteristics. It should be noted that even with the most sophisticated microphones, recording and signal treatment equipment, these abilities can be even further degraded due to the loss of certain nuances and vocal characteristics in the recording or eavesdropping system.

34. When can I use a NOISEBATH 900 instead of a NOISEBATH 4000?
Answer: NOISEBATH 900 systems employ the NOISEBATH principles and formula, but use only one disc and 4 amplified speakers. While less effective against sophisticated electronic listening programs, the NOISEBATH 900 systems are quite effective in establishing protection against less sophisticated listening programs and common human eavesdropping. Also the NOISEBATH 900 is much less expensive. When the maximum protection is required use the NOISEBATH 4000 with Regional Edition or Custom Language discs.

35. Isn’t running water in a bathroom sink and shower and talking in the bathroom an effective means of masking a conversation?
Answer: No. Absolutely not. In countries and situations where a room, apartment, or house might be “bugged” bathrooms are a favorite place to place bugs just because so many people think they are safe. Also while the sound of the running water seems loud to the people talking, it can be filtered out by skilled technicians leaving the voice conversations quite intelligible as the KGB did to Oleg Penkovsky during the Cuban Missile crises according to Peter Wright in his book “Spycatcher”.

36. Isn’t playing a radio or TV at a loud volume just as good as NOISEBATH?
Answer: No. Absolutely not. In addition to being only one masking source which can be clearly understood, an opponent can tune their radio or TV to the same station and obtain a “clean” copy of the masking signal which can then be “subtracted out” from the mixture of radio/TV + target voice leaving the target’s voice.

37. What is the NOISEBATH facemask for?
Answer: In some circumstances speakers who are using NOISEBATH could find themselves under surveillance by video cameras or high quality telescopes and their words interpreted by persons skilled at reading lips. Because the NOISEBATH discs and playback system only protects against acoustic pickup and processing we have included the masks to be used when protection against lipreading is required. In our experience the mask effectively protects against lipreading and has a negligible decrease in intelligibility of a speaker in a face-to-face-conversation or when speaking on a secure telephone. Physicians use them all the time in critical operations and are easily understood by those around them in that setting so NOISEBATH users should also have no problems being understood.

38. Are there any U.S. export or reexport restrictions for NOISEBATH?
Answer: The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) EAR commodity classification for NOISEBATH is ECCN 5A992, controlled for Anti Terrorism 1. This means that except for North Korea, Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Sudan and BIS and OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of Treasury) prohibited users and uses, NOISEBATH systems and elements and discs can be exported and reexported under the EAR license exception NLR (No License Required).

39. How does Information Security Incorporated market and sell NOISEBATH?
Through U.S. and foreign resellers.

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