13 Stories

China Announces Quantum Leap in Encryption

Soon-to-launch communications network said to be 'unhackable'

(Newser) - Communications just got tighter between Alice and Bob, leaving Eve out in the cold. These aren't real people, but rather the names commonly used in scenarios describing quantum cryptography , a type of technology surpassing traditional encryption in terms of keeping communications networks safe from hackers. It's a technology... More »

He May Have Cracked Century-Old Music 'Enigma'

But not all scholars are convinced of Bob Padgett's theory

(Newser) - At the debut of his Variations on an Original Theme in 1899, English composer and cryptographer Edward Elgar hinted at a riddle of sorts hidden in the work. The idea is that the 14 variations in the piece are, in fact, variations of a particular piece of music. "So... More »

Snowden's Password Idea: Strange, but Not Terribly Secure

Cryptography expert says 'MargaretThatcheris110%SEXY' just wouldn't cut it

(Newser) - Edward Snowden recommended last week that people use longer "passphrases" instead of passwords for extra security. One of his suggestions: something unusual and counterintuitive like "MargaretThatcheris110%SEXY." But cryptography expert Joseph Bonneau tells Andy Greenberg, writing for Wired , why Snowden's approach leaves much to be desired. To... More »

10 Words Deciphered From Mysterious 600-Year-Old Text

Stephen Bax has figured out 14 characters from the Voynich manuscript

(Newser) - What has been called the most mysterious manuscript in the world has at last given up a tiny handful of its secrets. An applied linguistics professor thinks he's deciphered 14 characters from the famous Voynich manuscript, and with them 10 complete words, LiveScience , the BBC , and the Independent report.... More »

Ancient Viking Carving Yields ... a Love Note

PhD student deciphers mysterious codes from 12th and 13th centuries

(Newser) - A PhD student thinks he's deciphered a 900-year-old carving that has long puzzled experts—and it's basically a valentine. The carving appears to be based on a code that subs in numbers for runes and, when deciphered, reads "kiss me," Jonas Nordby from the University of... More »

100-Year-Old Hoax May Be 600-Year-Old Code

UK researchers find new patterns in mysterious manuscript

(Newser) - Many people believe that the Voynich manuscript—a book found in 1912 written in an unknown language with images of plants and astronomy—is a hoax. Cryptographers, mathematicians, and linguists have been trying to decipher the supposedly 15th-century text found by book dealer Wilfrid Voynich in 1912 for 100 years,... More »

Why Your Password Is Less Safe Than Ever

Advances in cracking technology and reuse of passwords leaves users vulnerable

(Newser) - Once upon a time, hackers tried to guess passwords using a list of words cobbled from a dictionary and fairly feeble computers. Back then, the one password you're using for all your sites was probably pretty safe. But that's not the case anymore, reports Ars Technica , citing huge... More »

Cryptographers Solve 'Unbreakable' Code

21 computers unravel 923-bit code in 148 days

(Newser) - A code that scientists thought should take at least thousands of years to unravel was cracked in a mere 148 days by 21 computers working in unison, reports CNET . The solution to the 278-character, 923-bit code broke a world record in cryptanalysis, and the victorious team of technologists used "... More »

In Search of Code Breakers, UK Intel Invades Social Media

Launches 'Can You Crack It?' test

(Newser) - Did you ever want to be a code-breaking secret agent? Well, this could be your big chance. One of Great Britain's oldest intelligence services, Government Communications Headquarters, has launched an online test called " Can You Crack It? ," designed to help find new talent, reports the BBC . The... More »

Cop: I've Deciphered a Zodiac Killer Message

But Lt. John Lewison has yet to share his solution

(Newser) - A Chicago cop says he has managed to decipher one of the coded messages that have long frustrated investigators—one left by the Zodiac killer. Lt. John Lewison has been something of a Zodiac hobbyist ever since the “BTK Killer” was caught in 2005 using clues from the taunting... More »

FBI Wants You to Crack Code in 12-Year-Old Murder

They're hoping amateur puzzle fans can solve notes found on St. Louis man

(Newser) - The FBI’s best cryptanalysts haven’t been able to crack a mysterious code found in the pocket of a murder victim 12 years ago—so they’re hoping you can do it. Ricky McCormick, 41, was found dead in a Missouri field in 1999, and the bizarre notes in... More »

Lab Note Baffles Code Sleuths

Internet abuzz with strange letter sent to Fermi physics facility

(Newser) - Amateur cryptographers are racking their brains over a mysterious letter sent to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The note, covered in alien-looking symbols, arrived last year and remained under wraps until May, when the lab posted it online for amateur sleuths. Since then part of the message has been decoded—... More »

Math Flub Could Doom Online Safety

Simple error might give hackers private data, expert warns

(Newser) - A small glitch in a computer chip—hypothetical so far—could allow hackers to steal private information from millions of PCs, a renowned cryptographer warns colleagues. Adi Shamir, an Israeli professor who helped design software guarding e-commerce transactions, wrote that a simple math mistake could cause a computer’s security... More »

13 Stories