On January 5th 2012, an image
was uploaded to various image boards. It contained two messages. One was obvious & easy to read. In white letters on a black background it said:
Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.
As promised there was another message hidden inside the image. It was the start of a bizarre, as yet unexplained chain of complex hidden messages leading those who could solve them on a journey across the Internet and around the world towards a destination none of them could predict with certainty. Is it a highly evolved ARG? Is it a recruitment campaign for the NSA?
Welcome to the mystery of Cicada 3301
posted by scalefree
on Nov 25, 2013 -
Wired tells the story
of an old encoded manuscript, the effort to crack it, and the secret occult society that it revealed.
posted by Ipsifendus
on Nov 17, 2012 -
Robert Morris, a pioneer in the field of computer security, early major contributor to the UNIX operating system, and father of Robert Tappan Morris (author of the Morris Worm), has died at 78
. NYT [more inside]
posted by fireoyster
on Jun 29, 2011 -
How To Make Anything Signify Anything
"By the time he retired from the National Security Agency in 1955, Friedman had served for more than thirty years as his government’s chief cryptographer, and—as leader of the team that broke the Japanese PURPLE code in World War II, co-inventor of the US Army’s best cipher machine, author of the papers that gave the field its mathematical foundations, and coiner of the very term cryptanalysis—he had arguably become the most important code-breaker in modern history."
posted by puny human
on Feb 4, 2011 -
Thomas Jefferson's cipher message from Robert Patterson For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.... To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering." [more inside]
posted by caddis
on Jul 2, 2009 -
On May 13, security advisories published by Debian
revealed that, for over a year, their OpenSSL libraries have had a major flaw in their CSPRNG
, which is used by key generation
functions in many widely-used applications, which caused the "random" numbers produced to be extremely predictable. [lolcat summary] [more inside]
posted by finite
on May 16, 2008 -
This is an ironic tale of the consequences of inept application of cryptographic tools. Or is it?
Dan Egerstad, a Swedish hacker, gained access to hundreds of computer network accounts around the world, belonging to various embassies, corporations and other organizations. How did he do it? Very easily:
by sniffing exit traffic on his Tor
nodes. [more inside]
posted by Anything
on Dec 4, 2007 -
Secret agent Huub Lauwers was parachuted into occupied Holland
in 1941 to relay intelligence back to London. His capture by the Germans marked the beginning of the Englandspiel
, a deadly game of cat-and-mouse intelligence that cost the lives of over fifty agents. Lauwers frantically tried to inform the SOE
that he had been caught, but the Baker Street Irregulars
just didn't get it. Or did they? [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Aug 6, 2006 -
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pl i psnprtsyr oxhuwyl p cbopexwg.
posted by Plutor
on Jul 5, 2005 -
The Reader of Gentlemen's Mail
In the spring of 1919, when the father of American cryptography, Herbert
, drew up a plan for a permanent State Department codebreaking organization — a "black chamber
— he estimated that a modest $100,000 a year would buy a chief (Yardley) and fifty clerks and cryptanalysts. Yardley rented a three-story building in New York City: on East 38th Street just off Fifth Avenue, he put two dozen people to work under civilian cover—as the Code Compiling Company
. His summary dismissal happened in 1929 at the hand of incoming Secretary of State Henry Stimson
, who closed down the Cipher Bureau
with the casual observation
that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail
". The son of a railroad telegrapher, a man with a lively Jazz Age interest in money, good-looking women, and drinks at five, Yardley not only taught his country how to read other people's mail but wrote two of the enduring American books—the memoir The American Black Chamber (1931)
, and The Education of a Poker Player (1957)
posted by matteo
on Apr 22, 2005 -
Say it twice -- don't it feel nice? Most people think of the enigmatic maoi
when they think of Easter Island but an equally vexing mystery is found in twenty-six wooden objects which contain pictographic symbols comprising...what
? A language? A mnemomic system for recording stories now long forgotten? A resource for modern primitives' tribal tatoos? We could ask, but the authors are long-gone
-- the victims of hard times -- leaving only a few tablets and a bunch of carved stone to puzzle over.
posted by Ogre Lawless
on Jan 19, 2004 -
There comes a time when people at a technical conference like this need something more relaxing. A change of pace. A shift of style. To put aside all that work stuff and think of something refreshingly different. So let's talk about coding theory.
posted by thebabelfish
on Oct 25, 2003 -
You've probably heard of the WWII Navajo "code talkers"
who managed to baffle crack Japanese cryptanalysts and were credited with enabling US success at Iwo Jima. Civil engineer, journalist and photographer Philip Johnston
was the determined mind behind the "windtalkers". The son of missionaries, Johnston grew up on a Navajo reservation and was one of only a handful of outsiders fluent in the Navajo language. A bit of his background is included this article
, and you can read a complete history
of his plan, view an archive of photos by Johnston
, and see copies of his enlistment application
letter to the Marine Corps commandant, as well as a recommendation letter
from the Commanding General. (more inside...)
posted by taz
on Jan 22, 2003 -
AES may have been broken
. The new standard in crypto, AES
, and other algorithms, appear to be vulnerable to xsl
. This is not a practical attack, yet, but if you're interested in crypto it's fascinating (and shocking) news.
posted by andrew cooke
on Sep 16, 2002 -
Fun with Fingerprint Readers.
A Japanese cryptoanalyst recently found that he could reliably fool biometric fingerprint scanners using only gelatin like that found in gummy bears. Not only could he create a fake finger using the original, he was also successful in fooling the scanners based on a gelatin mold of a fingerprint lifted from a piece of glass.
posted by kaefer
on May 15, 2002 -