I’m not done trying to solve Kryptos but I am done with my digraphic-transposition efforts and have written up my discussions/conclusions of the effort.

Discussions

New ideas are percolating and an old concern that Sanborn wrecked Scheidt’s code has been resurrected.  The reason a lot of thought and best efforts at secure cryptosystems is needed at the time of their creation is that compared to the creator, an analyst has significantly greater time-resources-efforts available to attack the cipher system.  This is one piece of ciphertext that is 97 letters long that has stumped everyone for 20 years despite their experience, dedication or resources.  David Stein mentions in interviews how colleauges were using computer analysis even.  Jim Gillogly defeated K1-3 through a combination of excellent head-work and computer programming.  We get these public relations messages from the NSA and CIA about how “no employees used company/government time on this stuff”, “uh-uh, no sir are we using government resources for a recreational purpose” but I honestly think that’s a steaming load of bullsh**.  You can’t tell me the late night techs haven’t feed a measly 97 letters through the decryption software “just-to-see-if-it-works”.  If you believe what the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency have to say then what about the hobbyists/amateurs/off-work cryptanalysts?  Is it possible that someone who was new to ciphers whip up an impenetrable cryptosystem (even with Ed Scheidt’s help) that would foil us even now?  Ed’s help presupposes that he used “real” cryptographic techniques which would make the Kryptos installation vulnerable to “real” cryptanalysis but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  Ed never seemed to want to make it impossible.  He and William Webster seemed on board with the whole “it’s a test/learning experience”.  So we are left with some possibilities.

  1. Methods that are known to be vulnerable to cryptanalytic attack and are generally considered insecure were used in K4.
  2. Ed came up with a doozy of a cryptosystem and no one at the CIA, NSA or anywhere with the resources has ever tried to solve it with the overwhelming temptation to do exactly that.
  3. Kryptos was considered vulnerable to supercomputers of the late 80’s which are basically the same as a laptop today but the hobbyists have failed to make a break which means…
  4. Sanborn did something that he thought was clever and changed K4.

The suspension of disbelief only goes so far before a person has to seriously start asking themselves if K4 is solvable.  If Jim Sanborn left everything the way he’d planned it with Edward Scheidt then I fully believe it is.  He mentions over and over again how he changed things and how he took what he learned and made it his own.  My two concerns are that Ed Scheidt publicly states that he’s never gone back to try to solve it and that Jim Sanborn just assures people that it’s fine.  I know he’s checked the plaintext, especially in light of the “idbyrows” vs. “layertwo” incident but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard or read about him stating that he’s checked the cipher systems to make sure they can be solved.  If anything, in most interviews he talks quite a bit about trying to forget as much as he can so he doesn’t give anything away in interviews.

Maybe there’s an interview or article out there where he does say that he checked, that’s possible.  Until then, I will work under the shadow of continually growing fears that he did something unsolvable to the fourth part of Kryptos.  It’s no longer simply a case of blaming my failure to solve it on something I can’t prove as having a fear about the implications of the collective failures of anyone and everyone to solve it.

Kryptosfan

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