by Neil Farquharson
At Zix, we love encryption. We’re fascinated by the many ways encryption protects information not just today, but throughout history. So we are sharing some coded messages that recently appeared in a few of our outgoing emails. See if you can crack the code before looking at the hints! The first email was fairly simple. Here was the encrypted headline we sent out: AJY JT UIF XPSMET MBSHFTU TIBSFE BODSZQUJPO DPNNVOJUZ XJUI PWFS GPSUX-GPVS NJMMJPO NFNCFST. The cipher was a classic 1-letter cipher: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ BCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZA Here’s the decrypted headline: ZIX IS THE WORLDS LARGEST SHARED ENCRYPTION COMMUNITY WITH OVER FORTY-FOUR MILLION MEMBERS. The second email was a bit more challenging. Here’s the coded message: RXREO ZPLFMR RDQPM RHUNQLFRK CRVWRRL DRDCREZ YA VNR JPH LRVWYEB PZ QIVYDQVPUQMMO RLUEOGVRK. For the encryption, we stacked two ciphers. The first was a 3-letter cipher followed by a substitution cipher to break up the pattern: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ DEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABC (3-Letter Cipher) QCUKRAFNPSBMDLYGTEZVIXWHOJ (Substitution Cipher) Here’s the message for the second email: EVERY SINGLE EMAIL EXCHANGED BETWEEN MEMBERS OF THE ZIX NETWORK IS AUTOMATICALLY ENCRYPTED. The third email was the most challenging. Here’s the message encrypted: QPG HM HQWT EHMZMBHZZ ZPUVZVWVZQPU TRDR BZZ DLZHZ GPETARVZQP. To make this one more difficult, we stacked 3 unique ciphers. We started with a 1-letter cipher to the right: NMD HM ENTQ EHMZMBHZK HMRSHSTSHNMR TRDR YHW DLZHK DMBQXOSHNM. Then we applied a 3-letter cipher going left to the first word and every other word after that: QPG HM HQWT EHMZMBHZK KPUVKVWVKQPU TRDR BKZ DLZHK GPETARVKQP. And finally, we added a rule to change every “K” to a “Z”. QPG HM HQWT EHMZMBHZZ ZPUVZVWVZQPU TRDR BZZ DLZHZ GPETARVZQP. Here’s the third message decoded: ONE IN FOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS USES ZIX EMAIL ENCRYPTION. Of course, our email encryption uses much more sophisticated encryption methods, but we hope you enjoyed our riddles. Please let us know if you were able to crack the code on any of our email messages.
by David Bisson