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Crypto Puzzle Nu.1

Solved on January 21st, 2021

I made this puzzle as part of the Cryptotales series about cryptography. 

The puzzle went live 8 hours before the full series of works was published. Once the works were all on dislay, there was a race to see who would send the answer in first.

The solution is a known phrase in the history of the cypherpunk movement:

Taken from an article in the WIRED magazine from 1993 by Steven Levy - ´Crypto Rebels´- 

¨There is a war going on between those who would liberate crypto and those who would suppress it. The seemingly innocuous bunch strewn around this conference room represents the vanguard of the pro-crypto forces. Though the battleground seems remote, the stakes are not: The outcome of this struggle may determine the amount of freedom our society will grant us in the 21st century. To the Cypherpunks, freedom is an issue worth some risk.¨

This puzzle was made on a few levels of difficulty. One which required modern cryptographic knowledge and other clues which led to learning about cryptography systems of the past and some history about cryptography. 

Let´s look at the solution..

Encryption

The colors used on web pages or any digital format are specified according to the intensity of their red, green and blue components. The colors value can be specified in an RGB triplet or in a hexidecimal format (a hex triplet). color tool or other graphics software is often used to generate color values.

Starting in the top left corner and following the arrows, each color value holds a hex triplet. You can see in the picture on the right that the value of the chosen pink square is #7b3561 in the hexidecimal format. Writing the values of all of the colors in the picture (in the spiral direction the arrows show) gives an enciphered message. To decipher it you would need to write a script and brute force the key, giving you the full phrase.

The Ceaser Cipher

The text in the puzzle, written in the Latin Alphabet is enciphered using the Caeser cipher. The clue to this is given through a painting of one of the most famous sculptures of Julius Caesar. The Caesar cipher, is one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. It is a type of substitution cipher in which each letter in the plaintext is replaced by a letter some fixed number of positions down the alphabet. For example, with a left shift of 3, D would be replaced by A, E would become B, and so on. The method is named after Julius Caesar, who used it in his private

communications. Using this system to decipher this message you would get -

 

                                            ´There is a war going on between those who would liberate crypto and those who would suppress it´

Which is the first sentence of the full answer.

Binary code

A binary code represents text, computer processor instructions, or any other data using a two-symbol system. The two-symbol system used is often "0" and "1" from the binary number system. In computing and telecommunications, binary codes are used for various methods of encoding data, such as character strings, into bit strings. Each group of eight ´1´s and ´0´s represents a letter. Processing these numbers in a binary code converter will give the following phrase -

                                                                          ´freedom is an issue worth some risk´

which is the last sentence of the answer.

 

Other Clues

- The numbers in the four corners of the puzzle, when put together, create ´1993´which is the year the article was published.

- The painting of the barbed wire refers to the ´Wire´magazine.

- This phrase talks about the cypherpunk movement. Most communications between the members was done through a mailing list. The Cypherpunk mailing list started in 1992. At its peak, it was a very active forum with technical discussion. This community inspired a generation of people to start looking into cryptography as a powerful tool for social change. During the 90´s the mailing list was mainly hosted on toad.com.

The toads in the puzzle make a reference to this mailing list and to the cypherpunks, about which this puzzle was created.

 And that´s the solution to this puzzle!!

 

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 © 2021 by Yonat Vaks.