NSA's encrypted tweet deciphered in six seconds, recruits code breakers

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by Anonymous, May 12, 2014.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    The National Security Agency's recruiting department posted what
    seemed to be a load of gibberish on Twitter Monday, causing
    Twitter users to speculate whether the NSA's recruiting officers
    were drunk or accidentally posted a pocket tweet. It turns out
    the tweet is a coded message.

    tpfccdlfdtte pcaccplircdt dklpcfrp?qeiq lhpqlipqeodf
    gpwafopwprti izxndkiqpkii krirrifcapnc dxkdciqcafmd vkfpcadf.
    #MissionMonday #NSA #news

    — NSA (@NSACareers) May 5, 2014

    For the untrained eye, the letters look like they were placed in
    a random jumble. However, a cryptographer will notice that the
    tweet does not look like it was made by someone smashing on the
    keyboard. Each letter block has exactly 12 letters, except for
    the third block, which has a question mark that could indicate
    an extra clue, and the last block, which has eight letters and a

    Alas, for those of you who are hoping it was a special set of
    instructions for secret agents, the cryptic tweet is actually
    part of the NSA's campaign to hire cryptographers and would-be

    Looking closely at the tweet, one will find that certain
    letters, such as p, i and c, appear more frequently than others.
    This suggests that the code used a simple substitution cypher
    where each letter of the alphabet is swapped for another. In
    this case, t was used for w in the encrypted tweet, p for a, f
    for n, and c for t. The first four letters "tpfc" translates
    into "want."

    Guessing what the other letters correspond to might take an
    experienced cryptographer half an hour of decoding, but a simple
    online tool can take only a few seconds to try thousands of
    letter substitutions. Twitter user Daniel Shealey referred to
    Edwin Olson's Quipquip, which took only six seconds to break the
    code, although with a small error.

    The message reads: "Want to know what it takes to work at NSA?
    Check back each month to explore careers essential to protect
    our nation."

    NSA confirmed that it is the source of the message.

    "NSA is known as the code makers and code breakers. As part of
    our recruitment efforts to attract the best and the brightest,
    we will post mission-related coded tweets on Mondays in the
    month of May," writes NSA spokesperson Marci Green Miller.

    Anticlimactic, yes, but at least it wasn't "Don't forget to
    drink your Ovaltine!"

    This is not the first time NSA has used unusual recruitment
    strategies. In 2011, the national spy agency, along with other
    federal agencies, descended upon Las Vegas to attend the annual
    Defcon hacker conference looking to hire around 1,500
    "cybersecurity experts."


    Anonymous, May 12, 2014
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