A friend of yours was part of a secret society and was put on trial on 15 December 2014 without a lawyer. Alice encrypted the trial's transcript and sent it to Bob, but double agent Carol was able to e-mail a copy of the ciphertext to you. Your friend desperately needed help from a lawyer, but you were unable to provide one with the plaintext so that you could relay the proper advice back to your friend.
RESULTS OF TRIAL: Your friend was executed on 26 December 2014, and the rest of your friend's family followed on 20 January 2015.
Recently, Carol was able to intercept communications containing a rather ominous message. It seems that your friend's secret society has learned of the work you and your associates have been conducting and are less than pleased. Your life appears to be in jeopardy unless you solve the mystery of your friend's trial by the end of this quarter. If you fail, you will find out if there is an afterlife.
Can you produce the plaintext for the message below to prevent your untimely demise?
After checking your e-mail, you find the following message in your inbox.
You receive another e-mail, but the source is completely different from yesterday.
Another cryptic e-mail has found its way into your inbox and keeps the theme of being indecipherable.
A programmer working for you named Mallory has come up with a certain theory. He believes that the message sent by Dave is a base 10 representation of a base 27 number. When asked for an explanation, Mallory mumbles something about the power of the trinity.
While visiting your cubicle to get help on one of his assignments, a new intern named Oscar catches a glimpse of Eve's message on your computer screen and asks, "Is that code from a hex editor?" When you ask what he means, Oscar explains that the message looks like the output his disassembler has been giving him. "Each pair of symbols can be thought of as a base 16 representation of a base 256 number."
The IT documentation specialist Peggy has heard about your mysterious e-mails and calls you on your work extension. "Victor, our e-mail administrator, mentioned at lunch last week that our firewall alerted him of some Ascii85 data transferred across the network and referenced a message from someone named Frank." You suddenly see Mallory peek over your cubicle's wall and give you the A-OK sign.
Consultants by the names of Sam and Sally have been brought in from Luminosum Defensione Ltd. After analyzing all available data, they have come to the conclusion that the attachment in Dave's e-mail is something known as an initialization vector. If they are correct, then it is a critical piece of information for understanding the ciphertext.
Sybil is LDL's top analyst and has noticed a peculiar similarity in Eve's attachment and the ciphertext from Carol. When comparing the two with one above the other, there appears to be a correspondence between certain characters in the two messages. Though the text is unreadable, the structure is visibly mirrored when comparing them both together.
Among all the bright people at LDL, Trent is the only one having a PhD in information theory. He is the doctor who everyone has been clamoring for, and he has deduced an impossible sounding explanation for the attachment in Frank's e-mail. Trent believes that the pickle contains the instructions to create an eighty-eight dimensional table having a length of fifty-two characters per side.
An e-mail similar to the one from Tenebris Lamina is showing up as an unread message.
This must be the week people send weird e-mails to others ignorant of their existence.
Yet another e-mail has landed in your inbox without any explanation of what to do with it.
Bill is your company's primary lawyer and has a friend named Merlin he thinks might be able to assist with Alice's message. After five minutes of analyzing the message, Merlin exclaims, "This ciphertext has an amber infinity; look at lines 19 and 24!" When asked what an amber infinity is, he explains that "we also call it a double infinity; the 88th alpha character on those lines are the same."
Word of your friend's family's fate has been getting around, and a telephone operator in customer service has taken special interest. Paul calls and tells you, "I have been looking through the available data and have a theory. Could there be a connection between the 87 random alpha characters before Merlin's amber infinity and the 87 character primer?"
A coworker and analyst named Carole has been studying the information gathered so far and has pointed out an interesting trend found in the observations made by the others. "Trent, Merlin, and Paul have all noticed details that appear to be related to an amber infinity. Is there a possibility that lines 19 and 24 of the ciphertext, the primer, and the key are related?"
Auditors have been hired from Myutsu Mutucsoecul Corporation to verify previous findings for the purpose of utilizing the encryption techniques being studied. Alloy is the investigation leader and seems especially interested in last week's research. "The discovery Merlin made may have been the most valuable clue thus far, and I believe we should explore the connections Carole found."
One of MMC's auditors has been studying notes from previous weeks and has drawn attention to Trent's theory. "If what he says is true, the encryption table's size would be fifty-two raised to the power of eighty-eight." Cobalt finally blurts outs, "No computer can store 10,192,817,301,005,542,286,466,232,471,675,496,120,406,975,910,800,636,068,660,404,884,973,826,682,736,169,865,768,988,355,997,729,823,378,974,012,695,621,304,952,079,063,967,426,432,230,164,063,584,256 units of data!"
Another MMC auditor, Blastus, disagrees with Cobalt's conclusion regarding the table believed to exist by the doctor. An alternative interpretation is that if one understands how the instructions should be interpreted and how the resulting table should be used, it may be possible to simulate its function without its construction. Blastus believes that the total space required would probably be less than double the space of the key's pickle.
Those from Nigrum Gladio have reached out to you again but neglected to include an instruction manual.
Another unread e-mail is in your inbox, and if the subject is any indication of its contents, it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
With all the e-mails you have been receiving, one might think that there is a certain theme to all this secrecy and madness.
Your company's chief security expert thinks that the ciphertext characters may be related to each other. While testing the hypothesis is impossible, Mallet believes changing a single ciphertext letter would alter all remaining plaintext letters. His study of mathematics has led him to conclude that there is some type of relationship with Markov chains.
Charlie, the network administrator at this branch, runs continual automated analysis of all internal traffic and has found an interesting note on his reports. "I don't know much about encryption, but the filters monitoring your case's data have been barkin' at me an electronic codebook tag. The information could potentially be processed in blocks at a time."
Several new employees were hired last week, and Trudy has quickly adjusted to her role as an information specialist. The time she spent working for Sanguine Shield obviously prepared her well for working on your friend's case, but Charlie's revelation yesterday appeared to come as a shock to her. "If the IV is the first chunk's header, shouldn't we expect approximately A / B chunks where A and B are the lengths of the ciphertext and primer, respectively?"
Elite Security Consultation And Protection Enterprise was a small company operated by Pat and Vanna Clingan before merging a couple of weeks ago with your employer. Several years prior, ESCAPE established a business relationship with Cumulus Cote and still has limited access to the systems they were responsible for implementing. Pat is going to submit two similar messages to be encrypted by CC's servers so that the results can be analyzed, the process reverse engineered, and the cryptographic technology understood for future application.
A few seconds after Pat submitted the messages for processing, Vanna was able to retrieve the results produced by yesterday's experiment, but several hiccups were encountered along the way. The first problem comes from the fact that while the plaintext could be sent and the ciphertext received, there was no way to set the keys and primers used during the transaction. It seems that ESCAPE did a better job at security than they remembered because the second problem discovered was the inability to gain read access to the key and primer used to generate the text shown below.
After working for Shiners' Bait & Pet Store for a few years managing their web site and computer systems, Chuck claims he was bored and wanted to put his black hat skills to work for your company. He was hired two weeks ago and immediately put to work getting up to date on your friend's case while also collaborating with the former members of ESCAPE. After seeing the troubles they had with the key and primer, he quickly went to work infiltrating Cumulus Cote's security and was able to find a few backdoors and exploits that allowed him to recover the following information.
While talking with one of your coworkers, your computer mentions "you've got mail" in a pleasing voice.
For reasons unknown to you, the people at Egregie Obice still wish to contribute towards your efforts.
Maybe if you can understand this e-mail, you might understand all past, present, and prophetic e-mails.