Feeds

Scariest NSA revelation yet: Spooks are RUBBISH at CIPHERS

'Encrypted' Tweet takes world+dog a moment or two to solve

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The NSA (yes, that NSA) has triggered a bit of a Tweet-storm, followed by helpless fits of giggles among geeks, by posting a job-ad-Tweet that used a simple Roman-style substitution cipher.

tpfccdlfdtte pcaccplircdt dklpcfrp?qeiq lhpqlipqeodf gpwafopwprti izxndkiqpkii krirrifcapnc dxkdciqcafmd vkfpcadf. #MissionMonday #NSA #news

— NSA (@NSACareers) May 5, 2014

The Tweet creeped out some people, but has since been revealed as the first of what the agency says will be an ongoing recruitment campaign seeking “the best and brightest” – and this is where the fits of giggles start.

As noted by the Washington Post, the message uses a simple substitution cipher to obfuscate a fairly prosaic message: “want to know what it takes to work at nsa? check back each monday as we explore careers essential to protecting your nation.”

Not only is the code simple, the ciphertext contains very obvious clues. That there's just one question mark in the text suggests strongly there's an actual question in the text, along the way making rather a mess of the format of using 12 characters in each block of text and hinting strongly that the spaces are meaningless.

El Reg will allow this much: while this cipher is lame, a bright spark in the agency's social media team could have a longer-term plan to generate ongoing interest in the game, by using a more modern and sophisticated cipher on each round.

If the NSA follows history, we guess next Monday's challenge will be a polyalphabetic cipher. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.