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Can you break the code?

A challenge for advanced programmers

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(filename: lt8codechall.htm)

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Calling advanced software geeks! Come back, Mr Turing, we need you again.

Many years ago, I created a program to encrypt computer files. Yes! The world needed another!

I "floated it "on the world"... via a "please copy and pass on" shareware floppy!! This was before the internet was in use by hobbyists. Before it was much in use by anyone. There was (and is) a cash prize for breaking the encryption.

$200 will go to the charity of your choice... within the universe of those scoring 3 stars or more at CharityNavigator.ord... upon receipt of an email with the text hidden in the file I've today put on the web. It would be helpful if you would agree some form of publicity, in the event that you win, so that when I post the "the prize has been won" notification, people will have a way to check I'm not making that up.(If you'd rather give to a non-US charity, I'm sure we can find something mutually agreeable. Or I can give to an international charity in the US, which has a global footprint.)

But that's just for starters. If you crack the first sample document, which you can take as long as you like over, you will be sent a second document, encrypted with the same encryption application. If you crack that within 72 hours of it being sent to you, a further $500 will be available to a charity of your choice, and $200 for you and your team. (If you want to "go for" this higher prize, you must agree to some publicity. Details in advance. You can choose when you want the second file sent to you.


My experience with selling... or even giving away!... software has not been wonderful. But i still dream that someday I will produce something someone wants.

The encryption application isn't ready for distribution yet, but one day I may bring it to market. I hope that I will be able to say "For many years, file encrypted by this application's method has been the subject of prize money... prize money which hasn't been won."

For obvious reasons, I won't tell you much about my method of encryption. I will tell you that ANY file can be encrypted/ decrypted with the software, and that the file size of the encrypted version is always roughly the same as that of the decrypted version. An authorized person would have the right software and an encryption "key", or "password" for "getting into" the document. (Or creating the encrypted version.) The key would just be a string of characters.

Good luck! I hope you have fun trying to crack the encryption, if nothing else. The bytes in the file can be anything from 0-255, so it might be as well not to load it into a fancy wordprocessor. Textpad, from Textpad.com, loads it quite happily, though, of course, not always showing anything when the byte is a non-printable character.

I would suggest that schools could make a useful project of this, with participants encouraged to write up the approaches they took to cracking the code. Even if they aren't successful, the journey can be a lot of fun.

I have other pages relating to encryption, with, among other things, ideas for challenges which are more likely to be accomplishable... is that a word?

I also have pages for people just using encryption... What's a good password? How can passwords be managed? What are our options, in the fight to retain SOME personal information?

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