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Archive for the ‘Ciphers’ Category

          No matter where you look, history has been filled with secrets. Codes, hidden messages, and cryptograms have appeared in every nation and in nearly every situation. Utilized by the world’s greatest leaders to fool the enemy, and some of the most notorious criminals of all time, ciphers have proved to be both helpful and infamously frustrating in a society full of secrets. No one likes the feeling of the unknown; the idea of a hidden meaning challenges us to think outside of the box, bend the rules if we want to know the truth. When the truth isn’t in plain sight it can be easy to get discouraged. With multiple types of encryption and heightened complexity, technology has only aided in the various ways ciphers can be implemented to serve their purpose. Modern and classical encyrption are just the tip of the iceberg in contemporary standards, and people are consistently fascinated by the intricacies utilized to hide something so simple. Codebreaking forces us to see things in a different light; to analyze and interpret patterns, similarities and subtle nuances that hide a deeper truth just below the surface.

           

          For centuries, similar codebreaking techniques have aided troops during World War II, helped unmask serial killers and solve the daily puzzle in the New York Times.  It has been through the art of encryption that deadly secrets have been kept away from corrupted hands, and enemies have been brought to the floor. For years The Zodiac Killer stalked California and the people who lived there. But besides sending a message of hate, he also sent a multitude of ciphers. Clever and many times intricately difficult, many of them have yet to be solved. Although simple in theory, the Zodiac’s ciphers are part of an entirely different dimension of encryption: psychological manipulation.

         

         Everyone likes a surprise; discovering something they did not know existed, something only they know about. Ciphers and codes offer the surprise factor, but they can also offer something else. As in the case of the Zodiac, they offer a psychological threat. Not knowing the statements of a mass murderer or any threat to security can eat away at the mind of even the highest government official. Always wondering, never ceasing to contemplate the possible implications of the undecoded message of “terror.” Of course the message could be nothing more than a knock knock joke, but that is where the beauty lies. It is this undeniable sense of mystery and myriad of POSSIBLE implications that make ciphers so powerful and mentally enthralling.

          Ciphers can offer manipulation, unintentional influence and even intentional distraction. Although one mere example, the saga of The Zodiac represents a crystal clear example of not only the psychological implications of ciphers, but their ability to distract from the obvious answer at hand. (allowing the Zodiac to continually evade police with little or no effort.)

          Everything serves some purpose and intention within society. Ciphers and undecoded tranfers of data can be Satan’s helper or the savior of an entire military operation. The art of encryption is neverending, always evolving, and continaully changing with each new generation and the technology that comes along with it.

         Very informative site on the subject of encryption: http://www.vectorsite.net/ttcode.html

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                  For a greater part of the 1960’s, Northern California was stalked by a serial killer known only as the Zodiac Killer. He was notorious for sending the police letters in his signature handwriting, complete with disturbing jokes and lewd comments targeting police. Over the years the Zodiac talked to newspapers, police and other agencies about shooting little school children, stabbing police, strangling citizens and planting a homemade bomb at an office building. He included sketches of weapons, greeting cards, and even blood soaked pieces of clothing from his victims.

               One of the most noticable facets of the Zodiac Killer was his attitude. He has always been overly confident, a little too confident. Although he never signed his letters, he left a trademark symbol instead.Zodiac Symbol His letters were filled with mockings of high officials, and his tone never expressed even a drop of nervousness. He even told the police where he was at different times during a murder, only to chastise them the next morning in a letter discrediting law enforcement.  Sadistic, clever, bizarre and highly motivated, the Zodiac Killer made fools of police for over a decade.

              The Zodiac Killer began nearly every letter with “This is the Zodiac speaking,” before going into graphic detail about his latest murder to prove to police he was real. At least 7 victims have been proven to be related to the Zodiac in some way, although the Zodiac has claimed 3 times that number of deaths to his name. Many of the Zodiac’s letters also included complex ciphers written inside. Hidden messages with thousands of combinations and possible answer keys. In 1969 the first Zodiac cipher was cracked by a school teacher, and read:

 “I LIKE KILLING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN IT IS MORE FUN THAN KILLING WILD GAME IN THE FORREST BECAUSE MAN IS THE MOST DANGEROUE ANAMAL OF ALL TO KILL SOMETHING GIVES ME THE MOST THRILLING EXPERENCE IT IS EVEN BETTER THAN GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF WITH A GIRL THE BEST PART OF IT IS THAE WHEN I DIE I WILL BE REBORN IN PARADICE AND THEI HAVE KILLED WILL BECOME MY SLAVES I WILL NOT GIVE YOU MY NAME BECAUSE YOU WILL TRY TO SLOI DOWN OR ATOP MY COLLECTIOG OF SLAVES FOR MY AFTERLIFE.”

          Since the first message was cracked, little has been accomplished in terms of translating the Zodiac’s other secret messages, most notably his 340 symbol cipher. Mailed on November 8th, 1969 the 340 cipher has stumped even the highest experts in the field of decryption. Although some answers have been proposed, none have proved accurate enough to be a confident solution. According to experts, the 340 cipher has 63^26 possible alphabet combination keys, and it would take thousands of years to test them even with the fastest computer. It must be cracked on a basis of extensive trial and error, a feat that is anything but simple. There is hope that one day it will be cracked, especilally since the Zodiac Killer has to this day never been successfully identified. DNA evidence and handwriting analysis has consistently eliminated suspect after suspect. The case’s key suspect, Arthur Leigh Allen, died of a heart attack in 1995. The Zodiac case is still open.  Here is the Zodiac Killer’s unsolved 340 character cipher:

Unsolved Zodiac Cipher

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