First off, I’m an idiot.

Second, it’ll seem like an endless rehashing of things I’ve said or other folks have mentioned countless times.  I guess it’s one thing to make an assumption or listen to others but it wasn’t until I tried it myself that I realized how difficult K1 is.

I got stuck trying to do the K1 translation even though I knew the keywords, the type of vigenere and had been to various sites that described how to solve it. (Go to this one, it’s animated: Kryptos K1 Solution)

See, I thought you just used the copperplate vigenere table to translate them.  Use the column on the side, find the rows for each letter of the keyword, something like that.

No, no you don’t.

Well then what’s it there for?

So you take the alphabet and shift the letters “Kryptos” to the front of the row. Then you stack 10 of these underneath your original. In these you make an acrostic “Palimpsest” by shifting the letter you need to the front of the row and wrap the text around to the back.

Originally I thought it would be fairly easy to retrieve the keywords “palimpsest” and “abscissa” because you’ve got the ciphertext and vigenere table so all you have to do is some statistical analysis then brute force it back to plaintext and retrieve the keyword.

That’s not easy. That’s the kind of thing it takes one dude 7 years to do with pencil and paper or 4 guys with a government computer, or one exceedingly talented cryptanalyst with a decent desktop computer.

There is no lesson in that, it’s not easy at all. Sanborn figured a person with a piece of paper and pencil would get the first 3 parts in a few weeks. And he’s not thinking of skynet, he’s thinking of you and me.

I think we can be confident of two things and suspicious of one.

  • The way they were solved is 100% not the way we were supposed to solve them.
  • The keywords are not retrievable in any simple manner and need to be known before decryption along with the type of vigenere.
  • We have no idea what the copperplate vigenere table is for.

If you just walked into the courtyard after deciphering the Morse code, you should have the keys somehow. It should be possible to sit down at a nearby table during your lunch breaks and steadily translate the copperplate.

I don’t know anyone that has been able to even come close to doing that.

What are we missing?

Well, what are we still missing anyways?