Have you read or watched The Imitation Game? Do you have a desire to explore the world of the code breaker?
In a former element of my career path I had the fortune to work with some of the best security officers and cryptographers in the banking industry, and potentially across the IT industry. Once a dragoman (decoder), always a dragoman?
We provide a small overview of cryptography in our CompTIA Security+ certification course, though barely enough to cover the multiple variants for concealing or obscuring information. We present steganography, simple rotation and substitution ciphers, symmetric and asymmetric encryption, and a small range of data security techniques. The science is far broader. The goal is obfuscation – hiding valued content in plain sight so that only the informed might find or retrieve it.
As an avid geocacher, I have been hiding and seeking hidden treasure with my family for many years. It is always fun to discover the treasures that everyone else bypasses.
A few years ago, I discovered Ancient Societies , an online blog site preparing participants for the interactive, online multi-player game based on the book EndGame. Stella Vyctory, the site’s founder and hostess, provides sophisticated puzzles and challenges near daily for site followers (her ‘students’). Attempting to be amongst the first to solve the challenges, or perhaps even the hundredth to discover the meaning, can become addicting. A short review of top participants identifies some of the most talented cryptographers, linguists, crackers, and astute minds on the planet. It appears that everyone is part of the game, whether you play or not.
Through the process I discovered a number of online cryptanalysis (and semi-related) tools that might be of interest to both the security neophyte and the more seasoned professional. The following list isn’t necessarily comprehensive, though it will provide you an introduction to a world that creates and solves complex obfuscation problems.
Multi Encoder/decoder: An online tool with multiple encode/decode options on a single page.
Rumkin Cipher Tools, possibly home to the broadest variant of online cipher tools on a single site.
CRYPtool-Online: Online interactive cryptography training, a free e-learning program, and exposure to a range of ciphers , coding methods, analysis tools, encryption and password tools.
From Richard Knight, a small set of effective online code breaking tools.
Robert Eisele’s Open source hacking projects.
Before I go much further down the programming path, you should probably be aware of MATLAB, [http://www.mathworks.com/products/matlab/online/] the ability to use a browser, iOS or Android system and collaborate while writing, debugging, or testing code. My son, an engineering student, and his friends pretty much live in MATLAB, making me feel like a neophyte.
Anagram Solver: Allow a computer to unjumble those letters into a meaningful word or phrase.
Binary to Text conversion: I always wanted to be able to speak directly to computers.
Hex to Ascii: Or to software developers and dump analyzers.
InverseGraphing Calculator: Draw that graph and the program will write the equations for you. This is particularly interesting if you are attempting to conceal simple content with complex mathematics.
Morse Code: Still a standard for learning the basics of electronic or mechanical language interpretation and translation.
Semaphore: Give yourself a little insight into symbolic systems by starting with the basics. (With a tip of the hat to my very first Scoutmaster, Mr. Wooling.)
Braille: Clearly, it’s not always about what you see. Patterns abound everywhere. Expand your senses.
Although I knew some of these tools existed, I hadn’t considered using them to conceal information. Until a couple of puzzles combined both ciphers and language translators simultaneously. These tools would have simplified the efforts begun at Bletchley Park.
And while you are expanding beyond sight and touch, other frequencies are being used to conceal and transmit secured content.
And looping back to where I began, most Geocaching clues are concealed using simple rotation ciphers. My children began learning them at a young age, and could almost read the messages without a translator. I wish my mind was so elastic.
Or play with steganography by trying and open source tool. OpenPuff Steganography Tool
Tools for Android
Since Ancient Societies is associated with Google, more and more cipher tools are being enabled for mobile platforms. You can start with the Android based Cipher tool .
I plan to see what I can find for iOS mobile platforms next.
This list should give you several nice starting points.
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Or should I say,
Hope to see you in the classroom or online!
Steve teaches PMI-PBA: Business Analysis Certification, PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.