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 Post subject: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:13 am 
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Any decoder here?

The BBC is searching for one....

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:08 am 
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If this is a one-off code set up between two people then it is essentially un-crackabel. The key could be any book, and the message would contain a reference to a page/line/character in the book. Starting with this character, the character C would encode as the character 3 letters after the initial one, then B would be two after that etc. etc.

This is the message in full:
Attachment:
carrier-pigeon-message.jpg
carrier-pigeon-message.jpg [ 261.69 KiB | Viewed 2809 times ]

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Last edited by Gus on Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:17 am 
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Apparently it was sent by my grandfather, Sgt. W. Stott.

Anyway, I think I've cracked it:

Code:
1. Cut the pigeon breasts into small pieces. Finely dice the onion, celery, leek and carrot.

2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the pigeon, chicken livers and pancetta in olive oil until lightly browned. Put into a pie dish.

3. Add a further tablespoon of the oil to the frying pan and fry the onion, celery, leek and carrot until golden, and then add this to the pie dish. Fry the button mushrooms and shallots in the remaining oil and add to the pie dish.

4. Spoon tomato paste into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the stock. Add the peppercorns, rosemary, sage and thyme to the stock, and bring to the boil.

5. Set the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Pour the stock over the meat in the pie dish.

6. Roll the pastry out to cover the pie and bake for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:58 am 
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Gus wrote:
If this is a one-off code set up between two people then it is essentially un-crackabel. The key could be a any book, and the message would contain a reference to a page/line/character in the book. Starting with this character, the character C would encode as the character 3 letters after the initial one, then B would be two after that etc. etc.

If this were the encoding scheme I'd say it is, in principle, crackable.

A computer could try all written text, at all offsets, with every common variation of that scheme. This would, of course, require that the book used has been digitized and is accessible.

But, assuming it is based on a book and the key material is no longer available, you could do a statistical confidence test on your assumptions about the book. Assume the plaintext of the message is written in English and assume the key material book was also written in English. Is it statistically likely that the offesets in the ciphertext could correspond to written English in a way that will decode to intelligible English? There is definitely enough ciphertext for this sort of test. In fact, if the key material were English it might even be possible to guess likely cribs to find key material and then from the key material to find more plaintext. In a sense, decoding both the message and the key at the same time.

However, my guess is that the message is NOT using the scheme you described. Instead it is likely using a "One Time Pad" (OTP) which is a set of random text, the same length of the message as a key. To encode a byte you take the ith letter of plaintext, add it to the ith letter of the key, mod 26 to get the ith letter of ciphertext. OTP is provably secure as long as each letter of the key is random and not correlated in any way with any other letter in the key.

OTP schemes are not crackable because a single ciphertext can be mapped to all possible plaintext messages by changing the key. That is, you can decode whatever you want from the ciphertext by choosing the OTP key. There is no way to know if what you decoded is actually the correct decoding.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:22 am 
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Conclusion?:

- search for the key first (which is tricky because we do not know where to look and for what to look)
- then decode

BBC better had asked the public to look for the key....

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:03 pm 
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There's an update to this story today on the BBC website. There's a good chance it's simply based on World War One acronyms.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20749632


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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:04 pm 
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Justin wrote:
There's an update to this story today on the BBC website. There's a good chance it's simply based on World War One acronyms.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20749632

There's a good chance the purported decoding is totally bogus. I'd like to see other verified examples of this particular style of extreme compression (aka acronyms) being used in WWI.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:40 pm 
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It was cracked by a group of people in Canada, was on ITV news today, something to do with Panzers I cant remember

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Here is the ciphertext:
Code:
AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW YIDDC

RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MIAPX

PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH

NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ

WAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH

LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ

KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6


I've found two different purported plaintexts. Here is the long one:
Code:
Artillery observer at 'K' Sector, Normandy. Requested headquarters supplement report. Panzer attack -- blitz. West Artillery Observer Tracking Attack.

"Lt Knows extra guns are here. Know where local dispatch station is. Determined where Jerry's headquarters front posts. Right battery headquarters right here.

"Found headquarters infantry right here. Final note, confirming, found Jerry's whereabouts. Go over field notes. Counter measures against Panzers not working.

"Jerry's right battery central headquarters here. Artillery observer at 'K' sector Normandy. Mortar, infantry attack panzers.

"Hit Jerry's Right or Reserve Battery Here. Already know electrical engineers headquarters. Troops, panzers, batteries, engineers, here. Final note known to headquarters.



And here is the short version:
Code:
Artillery Observer At "K" Sector, Normandy
Have Panzers Know Directions
Final Note [confirming] Found Jerry's Whereabouts
Determined Jerry's Headquarters Front Posts
Counter Measures [against] Panzers Not Working
Panzer Attack - BlitzKnow [where] Local Dispatch Station
June 27th, 1526 hours


Unless somebody can present other messages from WWII using this technique or provide documentation of how messages like this were encoded and decoded I'm calling [Censored. Please be nice!]. Anyone can come up with a plausible acronym-like decoding of this ciphertext. Both of these decodings have problems (they skip letters or insert words where there aren't any letters). The documented substitution table must be published or the claims of decipherment should be regarded as bogus.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:37 pm 
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If we take a closer look at the original image (http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-conten ... essage.jpg)...

All instances of the letter U have only straight lines (three sides of a rectangle). The 3rd quintet should read FNFJU, not FNFJW.

All instances of the letter R and K match the others, so the 16th quintet should read AKEEQ, not AREEQ

All instances of the letter W have the center strokes meet at a vertex in the middle. The 17th quintet should read UAOTA, not WAOTA.

That last letter G matches all other instances of the letter G. The 26th quintet should read GQIRU, not FQIRW. (Thanks Carl)

Finally, you should take into consideration the periods present in the message. Without counting the last period after the numbers, there are four that are very clear and a fifth one that might be only a stain.

Hope this helps,

Skarabajo.

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Last edited by Skarabajo on Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:08 pm 
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Thanks Skarabajo however the ciphertext and purported plaintexts were just copy and pasted out of news articles. Via some quick checking, there seem to be more incorrect copies of the ciphertext in the news than correct ones.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:15 pm 
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Skarabajo wrote:
That last letter G matches all other instances of the letter G. The 26th quintet should read GQIRW, not FQIRW.
I'd say it should be GQIRU. That "W" looks more like a "U" to me, as you would say its just three sides of a rectangle.

Carl

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:00 am 
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Yes Carl. Nice catch! It is GQIRU. I will edit my post for future reference.

Thanks!

Skarabajo

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:47 am 
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Gus wrote:
The key could be any book...


It can't be that hard to find. Surely there weren't that many books printed back then. They didn't even have word processors. 8-)

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:31 am 
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heiowge wrote:
Gus wrote:
The key could be any book...


It can't be that hard to find. Surely there weren't that many books printed back then. They didn't even have word processors. 8-)

It's also likely to be a popular and inspiring work relevant to the common fighting man and written by a famous male British author, like Dickens, given the national pride and patriotism (and sexism!) at the time. I'm pretty sure the author (whoever it is) will be buried somewhere like Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey as a national idol. :wink:

Does anyone know of any such books that British soldiers often carried around with them, apparently for leisure (something that wouldn't look out of place and raise suspicion in their rucksacks), but maybe used as a source code?

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:36 am 
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Okay based on news articles and notes others have compiled, here is Gord Young's purported decoding:

Code:
AOAKN – Artillery observer at K Sector, Normandy.
RQXSR – Requested headquarters supplement report.
PABUZ – Panzer attack – blitz.
NLXKG – Now loading extra K sector guns
UAOTA – West Artillery Observer Tracking Attack.
LKXGH – Lt Knows extra guns are here.
KLDTS – Know where local dispatch station is.

HVPKD – Have Panzers in "K" sector determined
DJHFP – Determined where Jerry's headquarters front posts.
WYYNP – (skipped)
MEMKK – (skipped)
RBQRH – Right battery headquarters right here.
RGGHT – (skipped)
GQIR[U/W] – Found headquarters infantry right here.

FNFJ[W/U] – Final note, confirming, found Jerry's whereabouts.
GOVFN – Go over field notes.
CMPNW – Counter measures against Panzers not working.
ONOIB – (skipped)
DJOFM – Determined Jerry's other field mortars
JRZCQ – Jerry's right battery central headquarters here.
AOAKN – Artillery observer at `K' sector Normandy.

YIDDC – Yanks infantry division in direct contact
MIAPX – Mortar, infantry attack panzers.
HJRZH – Hit Jerry's Right or Reserve Battery Here.
A[K/R/H]EEQ – Already know electrical engineers headquarters.
TPZEH – Troops, panzers, batteries, engineers, here.
FNKTQ – Final note known to headquarters.
27 1526 / 6 - June 27th @ 1526 hours  (3:26pm)


I'm completely unconvinced. With a technique like this and skipped letter groups I'm surprised anyone is convinced.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:08 pm 
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Code:
WYYNP – (skipped)
Why You Yankee NincomPoop!

I agree, this system/translation is BS - too much inconsistency, ambiguity, and also too restrictive.

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 Post subject: Re: WWII Encoded message to crack
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:45 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
I agree, this system/translation is BS - too much inconsistency, ambiguity, and also too restrictive.
I'm no expert of WWII but surely there must have been tons of encoded messages sent back and forth then. Are there no records left today of the encoding schemes used? I would think they wouldn't be too complicated as you'd want to make sure the intended recipient would be able to read the message.

However this translation did teach me something. After wondering why this Jerry was so important I googled it to find this. I don't believe I had heard that Jerry was the nickname for Germans during World War II, used by Allied soldiers and civilians. At least I don't remember that tidbit from school. And based on what I've just read its still used in today's video games. Clearly I don't play enough video games.

Oh and this encoding system is actually used a bit today. Below is an example I just made which uses it and I've seen very similar examples used elsewhere.

YKYBRTP.CTLIYCRT

Enjoy,
Carl

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