Schneier on Security
A blog covering security and security technology.
« German Police Call Airport Full-Body Scanners Useless |
| XKCD on the CIA Hack »
August 5, 2011
Zodiac Cipher Cracked
I admit I don't pay much attention to pencil-and-paper ciphers, so I knew nothing about the Zodiac cipher. Seems it has finally been broken:
The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who preyed on couples in Northern California in the years between 1968 and 1970. Of his seven confirmed victims, five died. More victims and attacks are suspected.
The killer sent four messages to newspapers in California's Bay Area, only one of which has ever been decrypted. This first message split into three parts claimed Zodiac wanted to kill victims so that they would become his slaves in the afterlife.
The 408-symbol cryptogram was cracked by Donald and Bettye Harden of Salinas, California.
Code and solution -- with photos -- here.
EDITED TO ADD (8/5): Solution seems to be a hoax.
Posted on August 5, 2011 at 12:25 PM
• 24 Comments
To receive these entries once a month by e-mail, sign up for the Crypto-Gram Newsletter.
David Oranchak has already posted an excellent rebuttal. A couple of other things to consider:
* The unsolved Zodiac ciphers are one of those things that continuously attract amateurs who are sure they have finally found the solution and won't hear otherwise. Invariably, the "solution" involves so many degrees of freedom that they can make any message kind-of-sort-of fit.
* This "solution" includes a confession by suspect Leigh Allen. I wouldn't expect anyone to realise this unless they have an unhealthy obsession with the Zodiac murders (ahem), but Leigh Allen is to Zodiac as the "Royal Conspiracy" is to Jack the Ripper: a persistently popular theory that proves to be utterly ridiculous once you look into the detailed facts.
Schneier.com is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of BT.