Someone has solved the code hidden in the Snare artwork! Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get there first, the winner is in fact an intelligence professional. Want to know how it was done? Read on…
There was a bit of a red herring in the artwork (Clue #1 – It’s nothing to do with chess). Clue #2 (The first code to decipher is made from letters) and Clue #4 (The first code is hidden in a photo. Look closely. You might even need a magnifying glass) should have steered you to the letters on the typewriter.
The codetext for the first code was MTVQHFVIXGL.
Now you need the cipher (Clue #3 – The codes are unbreakable without the cipher. Use the same cipher to solve both codes. (One-time pad)) The only one time pad in the whole artwork is on the lyrics page for Strange Goodbye.
Now how to connect the two? Clue #4 referred to the first code and contained the hint A=0. From here you can extrapolate that B=1, C=2 and so on up to Z=25.
________________________________ M T V Q H F V I X G L 12 19 21 16 7 5 21 8 23 6 11
Clue #5 – Code #1 is subtractive. Code #2 is additive.
Subtract each number of the one time pad from each digit.
Plaincode: 12 19 21 16 7 5 21 8 23 6 11 One time pad: 1 5 7 6 4 5 3 1 5 2 7
Then use the same alphabet cipher to get the message. The message is a domain name – however due to an error on my part the next part of the web address was encoded incorrectly. You would have needed a clue or some lucky guessing to realise that this was a domain name so I sincerely apologise if you got this far and came to a dead end. The winner thought it was a false positive and solved the second code without the aid of the first code. The first code should have lead you to this clue:
The table on the left is known as a straddling chequerboard. It is simply a different way of obtaining plaincode (instead of A=0). The ‘clock’ on the right is used for modulo 10 addition. You will need to use this method to add the ciphertext (the coded message) to the one time pad and get single digit answers.
Where is the second code to solve? The clue we gave you about Numbers Stations should have tipped you off. It’s in the track listing.
The repeated digits indicate the start of the message. The first part can be worked out simply with the chequerboard. 2033 is who it’s from and 66362 is who it’s for. 37 indicates how many five digit number groups the message contains.
From here write down the ciphertext in 5 digit blocks. Write the one time pad key below it.
_____________________________ 16688 96964 51724 12261 61726 15764 53152 71187 71215 02906
Use modulo 10 addition to combine the digits one by one. Then use your straddling chequerboard to decode the numbers into letters.
21342 49016 22801 8347... C ONG RATU L AT IONS...
The final message tells you what to do to win the prize. The winner did very well to solve it as there is actually another mistake partway through the message which could throw you right off (When deciphering the stream you need to skip the last set (23551) of the key line and continue from the next line to get the correct plaintext.). Unfortunately I only noticed this once we had already begun making all the CDs.
We hope you had fun working on this puzzle in spite of the difficulty level and the extra challenge of the encryption mistakes!
A note from Brigitte…
I give my sincerest apologies for the errors in the encryption. We were rushing to get the CDs made so we could have stock ready for release. I should have followed the adage ‘measure twice, cut once’. However I am very glad it was still solvable and I hope it was a bit of (challenging) fun as it was intended to be.
I’d like to give many thanks to Dirk Rijmenants for his excellent documentation on one-time pad encryption. There are good reasons for everybody to continue using encryption today, one-time pad or otherwise.
Cryptography can protect the secrecy of your private communications. Privacy is a natural right that allows personal autonomy, while ensuring your democratic freedoms of association and expression. The definition of privacy differs among cultures and countries. Some governments impose restrictions or prohibit the use of strong cryptography by their citizens because it limits government surveillance. The fight against crime and terrorism are popular excuses to blur the boundary between legally authorized surveillance and blunt intrusion in people’s privacy.
– Dirk Rijmenants
I also used the following sources as reference when creating the code.
The complete guide to secure communications with the one time pad cipher – Dirk Rijmenants
Tracking the Lincolnshire Poacher – radio documentary about numbers stations.
The Conet Project – Numbers stations recordings