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Help Spies Crack ‘Impossible’ WWII Pigeon Code

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#1 Hum

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 23:09

The best of the British code breakers have apparently met their match in a WWII-era secret message recently discovered attached to the leg of a long-dead pigeon. :(

Cryptographers at Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the spy agency in charge of signals intelligence, have been analyzing the short handwritten message for weeks but threw up their hands Friday, saying it will be impossible to decode “without access to the original cryptographic material.”

The note, written on official stationary with the heading “Pigeon Service,” was discovered in a red canister attached to the skeletal leg of a pigeon in a chimney in Surrey. The message is made up of 27 seemingly random five-letter blocks and though it’s undated, government analysts believe the pigeon met his end while on a secret mission during the Second World War. The note is signed “Sjt W Stot” and was intended for the destination “XO2.”

In a statement released overnight, the GCHQ said that during the war, secret communications would often utilize specialized codebooks “in which each code group of four or five letters had a meaning relevant to a specific operation, allowing much information to be sent in a short message.” The GCHQ said that those messages may have been put through an additional layer of security by being re-coded with what’s known as a one-time pad.

One-time pads make up a theoretically uncrackable secret communications system in which an agent could encode a message using a key that uses truly random numbers to translate plain text into what looks like jibberish. The recipient of the coded message would then only be able to decode the message if they possessed an identical key. After a single use, both keys would be destroyed.

“This means that without access to the relevant codebooks and details of any additional encryption used, it will remain impossible to decrypt,” the GCHQ said.

Nearly a quarter million carrier pigeons were used during the Second World War by various branches of the British military including Britain’s Special Operations Executive, according to the GCHQ. In the air, the small birds fought their own version of the war, braving enemy hawk patrols and soldiers on the ground taking potshots.

The GCHQ has enlisted the Pigeon Museum at Bletchy Park to trace the identity of the pigeon – each was given a service number – but is still seeking information on what “Sjt W Stot” and “X02? could tell them about the note’s origin and purpose. Was it vital information about the secret D-Day invasion plans? Was it nothing but a training exercise?

One GCHQ historian told BBC News the most helpful suggestion came from the public already:

“A member of the public… suggested that, since the message was found in the chimney, the first two words are most likely to be ‘Dear Santa,’” the historian said.

source

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#2 Original Poster

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:15

I think the first and last words are key to solving this maybe something polite? like sir or major etc ... it seems to be some kind of formal greeting, also the 27 1525/6 might be a cipher clue ... or as I have been learning the last few days it might be an intensifier OR the second half to a decryption code (that way if they sent it attached to the post, you could decrypt it) means they could change half the process each time


correct me if you think im wrong just thought I would try and be usful

AoAKN HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP FOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYND CNPNW HJRZH
NLXKE AENER ONOIB AREEQ
UAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXEH REEHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS FQIRU AOAKN 27 1525/6.

#3 rfirth

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:21

Don't bother trying to crack it. It's probably encrypted using a one-time pad. It's the only cipher that is 100% mathematically proven to be impossible to decrypt.

I think the first and last words are key to solving this maybe something polite? like sir or major etc ... it seems to be some kind of formal greeting


You're making stuff up :p

Anyway, the 27 1525/6... it's 27 blocks of 5...

#4 badb0y

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:26

AoAKN HVPKD FNFJU YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP FOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYND CNPNW HJRZH
NLXKE AENER ONOIB AREEQ
UAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXEH REEHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS FQIRU AOAKN 27 1525/6.


Windows 9 product key :laugh:

#5 Growled

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:29

I thought anything could be cracked, given enough time.

#6 Original Poster

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 03:31

Don't bother trying to crack it. It's probably encrypted using a one-time pad. It's the only cipher that is 100% mathematically proven to be impossible to decrypt.



You're making stuff up :p


:/ Im just taking a guess ... lol when trying to decrypt something like this you have to try and look for human error this is not made by a computer this is a human made encryption there will be mistakes and give aways Im not saying I could crack it but hey its just a lil fun why not share a few ideas xD .... like SJT could also be a hint / encrypted thing ... I would guess its a prefix


Sjt W Stot
CPL CL_L
COL CL_L
CSM CM_M
PFC PC_C
MSG MG_G
GEN GN_N
PVT PT_T
PV2 P2_2
LTC LC_C
PFC PC_C
SGM SM_M
SMA SA_A
CPT CT_T
SGT ST_T
PO3 P3_3
PO1 P1_1
PO2 P2_2
ENS ES_S
CPO CO_O
Amn An_N
A1C AC_C
SrA SA_A

Windows 9 product key :laugh:


O.o shh people will know im a time lord

#7 Tha Bloo Monkee

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:30

I think the first and last words are key to solving this maybe something polite? like sir or major etc ... it seems to be some kind of formal greeting, also the 27 1525/6 might be a cipher clue ... or as I have been learning the last few days it might be an intensifier OR the second half to a decryption code (that way if they sent it attached to the post, you could decrypt it) means they could change half the process each time

lol well since cryptographers have been unable to crack it for weeks, I highly doubt someone here on Neowin is going to find the solution.

#8 Ph1b3r0pt1c

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:47

That looks like a knock off of a caesarian shift cipher. The fun part is figuring out how the letters shift.


lol well since cryptographers have been unable to crack it for weeks, I highly doubt someone here on Neowin is going to find the solution.


Not true. I know some people on this same forum that can reverse engineer key codes for software and then write a key generator for said software. Maybe they just have not been pointed at this yet.

#9 thechronic

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:50

Thing is, if this code requires a one time pad to decipher it we're kinda screwed. The first and last block being identical could mean several things. It could be part of a key to decipher the code or it could simply indicate the beginning and end of a message.

My personal opinion is this is little more than a dyslexics love letter.

#10 +ChuckFinley

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:52

I would laugh if they did!

#11 torrentthief

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 12:56

can you imagine if CORE wrote a keygen that decrypted it :p

#12 Original Poster

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 19:22

That looks like a knock off of a caesarian shift cipher. The fun part is figuring out how the letters shift.


is what i am looking at :p

#13 Detection

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 19:39

What's to say its even written in English ? :p

#14 pes2013

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 19:53

I thought anything could be cracked, given enough time.

Depends on the algorithm used. If its a known one (AES), yes, in billions of years it can be cracked. But what if its a homemade one that only one person knows? Uncrackable.

#15 Original Poster

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 10:43

Depends on the algorithm used. If its a known one (AES), yes, in billions of years it can be cracked. But what if its a homemade one that only one person knows? Uncrackable.


if a message was sent, then 2 people knew the decryption if two people know it at least so do many O.o just need to find the grandkids of all the spies in wwII