Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cicada 3301: The internet mystery that has the world baffled

One evening in January last year, Joel Eriksson, a 34-year-old computer analyst from Uppsala, Sweden, was trawling the web, looking for distraction, when he came across a message on an Internet forum.

The message was in stark white type, against a black background.

“Hello,” it said. “We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”

The message was signed: “3301.”

A self-confessed IT security “freak” and a skilled cryptographer, Eriksson was interested immediately.

This was, he knew, an example of digital steganography: the concealment of secret information within a digital file, most often seen in conjunction with image files.

A recipient who can work out the code — for example, to alter the colour of every 100th pixel — can retrieve an entirely different image from the randomized background “noise.”

It’s a technique more commonly associated with nefarious ends, such as concealing child pornography. In 2002 it was suggested that al-Qaida operatives had planned the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks via the auction site eBay, by encrypting messages inside digital photographs.

Read more in the original article at the link below..
The internet mystery that has the world baffled