When I first saw Kryptos and got interested, I knew cryptoquotes from the newspaper and that’s about it.

To me, any cipher was possible because I didn’t know anything about them or the context of Kryptos.

I started the way most people do, I tried to read up on the sculpture and find out as much as I could.

5 days later I started this blog.

I knew that K4 was the unsolved part so I read up on different cipher systems and tried deciphering it by their rules.

Nothing worked.

I read several books about cryptology and the history of the intelligence communities.

I started visiting other sites to see what they’d tried.

I read and watched interviews with James Sanborn the sculptor, Edward Scheidt the cryptographer, Elonka Dunin the hacker.

I read the Army Basic Cryptanalysis Field Manual.

I searched through Wikipedia.

I started organizing ciphers by whether or not they were a substitution or a transposition.

I tried a lot of different things.

Nothing worked.

Then I realized that many of the the analog methods I read about consisted of the plaintext, the cryptographic algorithm, the key and the ciphertext. There are many that can use or outright require a keyword or phrase. Part 1 and 2 of the Copperplate use “palimpsest” and “abscissa”.

I realized there could only be three possiblities:

  1. We were never given the keywords because it’s possible to brute force a Vigenere and retrieve the plaintext and keywords.
  2. There is a message that gives the K1/K2 keywords plus clues for the rest of the Copperplate. I figured the previously useless Morse Code was a likely candidate.
  3. There are consecutive keywords and clues in each part of Kryptos that help one solve the next part, i.e. K1 would have “abscissa” etc.

I’ve tried to figure out how we could retrieve the keywords in some practical manner. I was and am currently unsuccessful.

I still think we can retrieve them, I just don’t know how.

I also think it is 95% essential to have figured out how to find the keys and clues left for us in order to even have a chance of solving K4. I’d say there’s a 5% chance we can brute force the answer without them.

Previously I tried cipher systems that I thought might work on K4. Lately I’ve been giving the ciphertext of the fourth part of the Copperplate more serious consideration. Because I’m not an expert in cryptology, have never taken classes and have a large learning curve to overcome, I decided to consider as many known cryptosystems as I can. I have reasons for this besides an exercise in futility. I’m trying to make a point, several actually.

  • Monographic or monoalphabetic ciphers cannot possibly be part of K4 due to their inherent weaknesses and because of the frequency analysis of the K4 ciphertext.
  • It is impossible that K4 relies solely on a transposition or combination of transpositions and this is also due to the frequency analysis of the K4 ciphertext.
  • Due to what appears to be an attempt to keep the letter/character count of each “half” of the Copperplate the same, it is out of character to assume a method that changes the number of letters in K4 during the decryption algorithms. This is an observation and an assumption, I wouldn’t claim it was anything else.
  • If K3 was translated correctly and the “?” is attached, then K4 is 97 letters. I think this is one of my current pursuits, to confirm the method(s) for K3. FYI, I haven’t made a lot of forward progress yet.
  • “If” K4 is 97 letters starting with OBKR and “if” the letter number is to be conserved, then digraphic substitution is also impossible because of the odd number of letters.
  • “If” I’m 100% wrong about everything and it’s some keyed-algorithm then guess what, you just admitted that the presence of the keywords needed to solve Kryptos, the so-called “keys to Kryptos” that have been left for us. You also admit that we need to figure out how to find them because until then, we have no certainty about anything involving K4. Without them, we are just speculating and reduced to brute force efforts that are extremely prone to mistakes and failure. Once we have the keys and the clues then we can re-assess K4 and I will joyously admit any of my own dearly held misconceptions.

If it’s not just a transposition, a monographic or digraphic substitution cipher then what’s left?

That’s the biggest point I’m trying to make. Ask yourself what’s left after that. After a couple reasonable assumptions (that could very well be wrong) and some actual factual observations, what’s left if you consider the previous six bullet points?

I think a possibility that’s left is an irregular polyalphabetic substitution that can give 1, 2 or maybe 3 ciphertext letters for every 1, 2 or maybe 3plaintext letters.  This irregular substitution would dampen and alter the frequency analysis. It could be combined easily with a transposition to make decryption “geometrically” more difficult. This would combine fractionation and diffusion which would match well with a masking and cipher combination.

There are other possibilities that I’ve probably not thought of yet.

There’s also the well-founded argument that, “even if I agreed with you, you’d probably need the keyword”. I’m not exactly giving up on keyword retrieval but if I’m going to put any amount of effort into a brute force attack then I’d like to not waste my time on pointless cipher systems.

And in the end, that’s what we all have to do. We have to make choices and attempts that will narrow the field from the original “anything could be the cipher method” to a group of possibilities that we can put some blood, sweat and tears into. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of folks who didn’t think it through well enough and came up with some really inventive bullshit that is still a useless failure.

This is my way. This is the path I’ve chosen.

I could be wrong.

I get that.

However I want to solve K4 and at the end of the day, you have to commit to something.

Wish me luck.

[insert angry rant with profanities dealing with all the stupid people, idiot questions, stubborn pride, and all those other crazy bastards]

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope this has explained what I’m trying to do.