Elonka Dunin in the News
(Page last modified, June 15, 2012)
Steganography, Kryptos, PhreakNIC v3.0 Code
Planetary Society-related info
Other Game Stuff
Press Releases and other credits
Audio and video files
- IUSB Preface, November 6, 2012, Cryptographer seeks answers at IUSB - about one of my talks at Indiana University South Bend
- (video) Riverfront Times, June 14, 2012, The Ricky McCormick Codes Explained - 10-minute video where I ruminate about the unsolved Ricky McCormick ciphers, and give a basic crypto tutorial for creating a key alphabet
- Penny Arcade, October 12, 2011, "Meet Elonka" news post at the popular Penny Arcade webcomic site
- St. Louis Magazine, October 2011, "What It's Like . . . to Be a Cryptographer" (online version) (and hardcopy with different text & picture)
- (television) KTVI Fox 2 News, March 30, 2011, Charles Jaco interviews Elonka Dunin about the McCormick ciphers, and the FBI's request for help in solving them.
- (radio) BBC Radio 4 "Americana", January 2, 2011, Interview about Kryptos and computer AI, starting around 19m30s
- (radio) The Takeaway, NY radio, November 22, 2010, Discussion about the new Kryptos clue
- (podcast) The D6 Generation, March 23, 2010, "Episode 52: Patents, Warmachine MKII, and Cryptology". Note: This is a 4-hour show. The 15-minute interview with me, in Nicole Wakelin's "Total Fan girl" segment, is at the 1h 54m mark.
- (published articles)
- Dunin, Elonka (2009). "Kryptos: The Unsolved Enigma". in Daniel Burstein & Arne de Keijzer (editors). Secrets of the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel. Harper Collins. pp. 319–326. ISBN 9780061964954.
- Dunin, Elonka (2009). "Art, Encryption, and the Preservation of Secrets: An interview with Jim Sanborn". in Daniel Burstein & Arne de Keijzer (editors). Secrets of the Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel. Harper Collins. pp. 294–300. ISBN 9780061964954.
- (television) KMOV Channel 4 News, May 4, 2009, Cracking the Kryptos Code: Three-minute interview about Kryptos, from my office in St. Charles, Missouri
- (web video) How Stuff Works, 2008, "How Kryptos Works" 2-3 minute video about Kryptos. I was interviewed in my hotel room at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, 2007.
- (television) PBS NOVAscienceNOW, July 24, 2007 (re-aired in August 2008), Segment on Kryptos. This is an excellent 12-minute segment explaining what Kryptos is, and the general mystery around it. If you check one video on this page, this is the one to check! :) It contains interviews with Jim Sanborn, Ed Scheidt, Jim Gillogly, and me.
- (television) FOX News, July 22, 2007, (archive) Segment on the live national Sunday morning show "Fox and Friends", about the upcoming NOVAscienceNOW Kryptos show on PBS
- (radio) NPR / KWMU, July 19, 2007, "St. Louis on the Air" - I was the guest on a one-hour interview and call-in radio show, on the subject of cryptography.
- St. Charles County Business Record, August 28, 2006, "Dunin's ability to crack codes is stuff books are made of"
- (podcast) Binary Revolution, Episode #156, July 11, 2006: My third time invited to be a co-host on the 90-minute program. Topics this time: Wikipedia, Treasure Hunters / Amazing Race television programs, Kryptos K2 announcement, the Da Vinci Code's Smithy Code story and related media frenzy, and a mention of my new book
- Washington Post Express, May 19, 2006, "Code Warrioress - She's cracking the D.C. area's biggest secret." (WP blog, article pdf) - interview with me about Kryptos, and my code-cracking hobby
- Hartford Courant, May 17, 2006, "Uncrackable code?" - about me, Kryptos, and some other famous codes
- (television interview) Fox 2 News Live, May 1, 2006 (archived video) - Live television interview about Kryptos, the Smithy Code, and my book
- (television interview) MSNBC - Countdown with Keith Olbermann, May 1, 2006 (transcript) (archived video) - I was one of the talking heads on an MSNBC segment about the Smithy Code story (#2 on the countdown, with Monica Novotny as interviewer). More info about the interview experience is at my blog.
- (television interview) KMOV Channel 4 News, April 29, 2006 (video stream and article at KMOV website) - about the Smithy Code story
- (radio) BBC Radio Five Live, April 25, 2006, "Pods and Blogs" - 9-minute segment about the K2 announcement
- (radio) CBC Radio (Canadian NPR), April 24, 2006, "As It Happens" (8-minute segment in Part 1, at 20:00) - about the K2 announcement
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 23, 2006, Book news - "Author update" about the K2 attention
- New York Times, April 22, 2006, "A Break for Code Breakers on a C.I.A. Mystery" (non-subscription mirror)
- (radio) NPR, April 21, 2006, "All Things Considered" - Interview of me and Kryptos sculptor James Sanborn, by NPR's Melissa Block, about the Kryptos K2 Announcement.
- Wired News, April 20, 2006, "Last Piece of the Puzzle?" - Once again, Wired News leads the way and breaks a major Kryptos story, about James Sanborn's announcement this week that there was an error in Kryptos Part 2 that changed the plaintext.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 9, 2006, Local author doesn't just write about codes -- she cracks them
- Whitedust.net, March 14, 2006, Interview: Elonka Dunin (and related Slashdot thread) (mirror)
- (podcast) Binary Revolution, Episode #99, June 8, 2005: My second time co-hostng a 90-minute underground web radio program. Topics: E-3, Identity Theft, Privacy, and Kryptos
- Wired, January 21, 2005: Solving the Enigma of Kryptos - a high-profile article at the very hip Wired News website about my involvement with the last unsolved part of Kryptos, as well as the links between Kryptos and the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. There are also transcripts of interviews with Kryptos sculptor Jim Sanborn, and the Kryptos code designer, Ed Scheidt. This Wired article brought in massive amounts of visits to my Kryptos webpage: About 8000 unique visitors on the first day, another 9000 or so when the article was picked up by other sites (like fark.com I think), another 38,000 when it hit Slashdot on Sunday, and then thousands more as translations or mentions of the article appeared everywhere from Japan to Holland to Argentina, and attention rippled through the respective blogospheres. Total I got about 100,000 visitors in the space of a week!
- (podcast) Binary Revolution, Episode #78, January 11, 2005: I helped co-host a 90-minute web radio program. We talked about basic cryptography, and briefly touched on the PhreakNIC v3.0 Code and Kryptos.
- Woman's World Magazine, March 16, 2004: Puzzled? Call Elonka - a short article about my cryptography hobby
- (radio) Charles Jaco in the Morning, October 2003: 10-minute audio segment from a St. Louis radio news program.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2003: Woman sets sights on code on CIA sculpture - about my cryptography efforts, including how we cracked the famous decade-old Cyrillic Projector Code.
- Unfiction, January 2003: The Alternate-Reality-Gaming site "Unfiction" published an interview with me, conducted by the site's founder, "SpaceBass".
- GIGNews, May 2002: I was the subject of an extensive interview (it's pretty good!) as part of a "Women in the Gaming Industry" report on gignews.com.
- 2001 - 2002: I was involved with an investigation into a hoax report related to the Sept 11 attacks. Four articles were written about the situation. The first two were in the main Cleveland paper "The Plain Dealer", the third was a cover story in "The Cleveland Free Times," and the fourth appeared in the St. Louis alternative paper "Riverfront Times":
- Stratics, 2000: A transcript of the Stratics interview that took place at Dragon*Con 2000 in Atlanta
- 1999: Nick Tommarello, a student at Babson College, interviewed me for a paper in his "Entrepreneurship and New Ventures" class.
Other related articles (I'm mentioned briefly or not-so-briefly in these):
- Rock Video! Two cameo appearances in the satirical cover of Human League's "Electric Dreams" by the Australian metal band "Mechanical Black". October 31, 2011
- The Riverfront Times, June 14, 2012, Code Dead: Do the encrypted writings of Ricky McCormick hold the key to his mysterious death?
- The Telegraph, April 7, 2011, Calling all codebreakers...
- New York Times, January 9, 2011, A clue to CIA mystery that has defeated the world's codebreakers
- Wired, November 21, 2010, 'Berlin' is revealed as Kryptos clue
- New York Times, November 21, 2010, Clues to stubborn secret in C.I.A.'s backyard
- Wired, November 17, 2010, Kryptos artist to reveal rare clue to baffling CIA sculpture
- US News and World Report, early 2010, Special Collector's Edition: Secrets of the Lost Symbol" (I'm on page 65)
- (mention in book) Taylor, Greg (2009). "Decoding Kryptos". in John Weber (ed.). Illustrated Guide to the Lost Symbol. Simon & Schuster. p. 161. ISBN 9781416523666
- (mention in book) Haag, Michael (2009). The Rough Guide to the Lost Symbol. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781848360099.
- (as fictional character Nola Kaye), mentioned in Dan Brown's novel The Lost Symbol, published September 15, 2009
- Wired magazine, April 20, 2009, Mission Impossible: The Code Even the CIA Can't Crack
- CourtTV, February 24, 2007, "Saturday Night Solution" - during a series of clips on that evening's subject of cryptography, there were a couple mentions of Kryptos, and a link to my website for more info. (archive)
- Washington Post (AP wire), April 27, 2006, "London Lawyers Turn Into Code Breakers" - I'm quoted as a crypto expert in a story about "The Smithy Code", an encrypted message hidden in a legal document by a judge in the Da Vinci Code case. This story went out via the AP wire to dozens of different papers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Discover Magazine, May 2006, p. 68, Mind Games - mention of my new book
- CNN, June 19, 2005: Mysterious 'Kryptos' sculpture challenges CIA employees
- U.K. The Guardian, Interest grows in solving cryptic CIA puzzle after link to Da Vinci Code
- Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2005: CIA sculpture 'kryptos' draws mystery lovers
- IGDA Online Games White Paper, 2002 - 2005: I'm on the Online Games Steering Committee of the International Game Developers Association. One of our tasks each year has been to produce a White Paper on the state of the online game industry.
- St. Louis Business Journal, December 2000: The weekly newspaper St. Louis Business Journal did a cover story on the gaming companies in St. Louis, and had a nice write-up on Simutronics.
- Stratics Website, July 2000: A capture of an online chat at Stratics about Hero's Journey.
- Inc Magazine October 1999: Simutronics made the Inc. 500! - This was a longtime dream, to get Simutronics listed in the Inc. 500 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. In 1999, we made it. :) A second article in the same magazine talked about motivating employees, and there was a section ("The Bright Side of the Force"), on how one of the things that Simutronics did was to take everyone in the office out to see the opening of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace." I'm not mentioned in the article, but I *am* the one that put that outing together, even though the CEO is the one that gets credit for it (funny how that works, hmm?). You can also read the company press release about the achievement.
Famous Unsolved CodesIn December 2003, after a fair amount of research and correspondence with other cryptologists, I posted a list of Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers. In my opinion, it's the most comprehensive such list on the web.
- Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram Newsletter, 12/15/2003 - The well-respected cryptographer Bruce Schneier mentioned my list in the December 2003 edition of Crypto-Gram. As usual, this resulted in a slashdot-effect. Watch that counter spin!
- Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 26, 2006, Do you know the CODE? - about different cipher systems, in an article celebrating the 215th birthday of Samuel Morse
- A German site says something about it: Einen Überblick über ungelöste »historische« Kryptogramme (= Geheimtexte) gibt Elonka Dunin auf der Seite Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers.
- On a Czech site, here's a Slovakian article that included links to "interesting tech websites": Radšej nieco úplne iné? Fajn. Fascinuje vás kryptografia? Šifry,co stále odolávajú? Viete, co je Kryptos? (Would you prefer something completely different? Fine. Are you fascinated by cryptography? Ciphers which are still unsolved? Do you know what Kryptos is?)
The Cyrillic Projector Code
- September 2003: We cracked the Cyrillic Projector Code!
- A Slashdot announcement about the Code brought in over 50,000 hits to my website in two days, sometimes as many as 5,000 per hour. Holy server load, Batman!
- The University of Maryland decided to make the Cyrillic Projector Lesson 4 in their Fall 2003 Cryptography curriculum
- September 22, 2003: A Greek weblog: Μια ομάδα αποκρυπτογράφισε το γλυπτό "Cyrillic Projector" στο University of North Carolina. Καλή φάση, άμα σκεφτείς ότι δεν είναι κάποιο κρυφό CIA αρχείο αλλά ένα γλυπτό ;)
- September 30, 2003: Computerra, a Russian magazine picked up the story (English translation here)
- October 8, 2003: Niner Online, the campus newspaper for the University of North Carolina, Charlotte: Campus Mystery Solved
- October 8, 2003: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Woman sets sights on code on CIA sculpture
- October 10, 2003, Science Magazine: Cryptic Sculpture Cracked (subscription required) (mirror for non-subscribers)
- May 2003: I came up with a new technique for solving part 3 of the enigmatic Kryptos sculpture at CIA Headquarters.
- June 2003: Cliff Johnson, winner of "Puzzle Game of the Year" for titles such as "Fool's Errand" and "3 in Three" mentioned my Kryptos work in his daily blog (and called me "First Lady of Online Games"!)
- Chris "Xenon" Hanson has a good Kryptos page
- Other puzzle/crypto sites linking to my stuff:
- An online textbook of some kind uses Kryptos in a lesson called Cure for the Common Code :)
In early 2002, I was invited to speak on cryptography at a government taskforce meeting. I went over the history of steganography, and discussed the rumors about whether or not Al Qaeda might have been using steganography to send hidden messages (I don't think they were). After I spoke in St. Louis, I found myself getting invited all over the country (including to CIA Headquarters!) to give the talk in other places. You can see the slides of my presentation here, and some of the media/links related to the talk are as follows:
- Def Con X, 8/4/2002 - I gave the talk at the famous Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas:
- Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram Newsletter, 12/16/2002: Bruce Schneier, bestselling author of some major cryptography books such as "Secrets and Lies" and "Applied Cryptography", mentioned my steganography talk in the December 2002 edition of his monthly newsletter. Crypto-Gram. As a result, my site underwent the "slashdot effect", getting thousands of hits within the space of a day or so. Whee!
- Bruce's newsletter is also published on the Linux Info lwn.net site.
- And versions translated into Italian are here: Un intervento sulla steganografia e se venga o meno utilizzata dai terroristi and here.
- And some commentary in (I think) German is here: Steganografie ist die Kunst, Information zu verbergen.
- 1/13/2003 - A French "cryptography freedom" site mentioned my steganography talk in an article about steganography and terrorism: Voir également la conférence d'Elonka Dunin, experte čs-crypto et stégano, qui conclue elle aussi que les terroristes n'ont vraisemblablement pas utilisé de tels outils & méthodes.
- 2/19/2003 - Evidently a couple universities, such as Georgia Tech and University of Washington are listing my Steganography slides as required reading.
- 11/ 2002: I got a nice mention at the memestreams.net site about my Steganography presentation.
PhreakNIC v3.0 Code Tutorial
In July 2000 I heard about an "as yet unbroken" Code that had been posted by the hacker group se2600. The code (visible at http://www.phreaknic.org/phreaknic.txt) had been unbroken since it was posted in mid-1999. I took a look at it in late July, and, with some fairly intense effort, cracked it in 10 days. :) As my prize, I won free VIP access to the group's hacker convention, PhreakNIC v4.0. That meant free hotel, free drinks, free T-shirts, etc. The Code's author, a Nashville hacker and DJ who goes by the handle of JonnyX, asked me to post an explanation of how I cracked the Code. I did so, in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek "cyberpunk tutorial" fashion, over the following six weeks. The complete tutorial can be seen here.
The St. Louis Linux/Unix community wrote up my accomplishment in their October CRONicle newsletter.
For those who are interested in the Code: It turned out to be a series of over a dozen puzzles, using several different types of cryptography. Some of the cryptographic techniques were ones that I knew about before starting my attempt on the Code, and some I didn't. By the end of the process of solving it though, I'd learned quite a bit. If you have any interest in cryptography (even if you don't know too much about it), I highly recommend taking a look at the Code Tutorial. You won't need super-computers to solve the Code, and you won't need to learn the complex math behind the encryption methods. Everything in it is solvable either with word-play techniques (such as cryptograms and anagrams), or with publicly-available software utilities such as a PGP encoder. All in all, the Code is a fun ride, and I recommend giving it a shot. Lastly, kudos (and mad props!) to JonnyX for writing it. :)
Computer Game Developers' Conference
Every year I try to attend the annual Computer Game Developers' Conference in California. This has evolved from a tiny "living room gathering" of game developers several years ago, to its current massive state which takes over the Convention Center. One way to tell how long someone has been attending the conference, is to listen to what they call it. Oldtimers like me refer to it as "DevCon," then it morphed to "CGDC," and now it's the "GDC." I really look forward to this convention each year, as it's a way to stay connected with my peers throughout the industry. Sure, sometimes my company is in competition with their company, but I don't see them as enemies, I see them more as "honorable competitors." We love to get together and share a drink and talk over the war stories that we all have about the trials and tribulations of managing massive online communities. My fellow DevCon attendees are my pals, no matter which company they work for, and I can't wait to buy the next round for them. Cheers!
Here's info about when Mike Perry from Maxis and I were featured speakers at the 2003 Game Developers Conference
Dragon*Con is a huge sci-fi/fantasy/gaming/comic book/movie convention that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia each year. It brings in over 20,000 attendees, hundreds of special guests and stars, and has over a dozen simultaneous programming tracks, on subjects ranging from "Star Trek" to Tolkien to X-Files to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to British Sci-Fi. When I attend, I can usually be found in either the Xena/Hercules track, or the EFF (Electronics Frontiers Forum) track, aka the "Hacker Track." Why would I hang out with the hackers? Well, I learn a *lot*. There are many different kinds of hackers: a few of the "black hat" ones are those who go out and try to break things, but there are far more "white hat" hackers who love to explore the web, learn everything that they can about everything, and help find (and plug) the security holes that the more malicious hackers (crackers) might exploit. DragonCon has some very talented hackers who attend, and who do their level best to educate the rest of the world on how to make your computers and web-surfing as safe and secure as possible.
Over the past few years, I've been on several panels at Dragon*Con. My Dragon*Con bio page is here. Audio recordings of most of the sessions are available via the EFGA website:
- Dragon*Con 2003 (Online Roleplaying Games, Cryptography & Al Qaeda)
- Dragon*Con 2002 (MUD/MMORPG Development, Steganography, MMORPG Guilds)
- Dragon*Con 2001 (Fan Websites, MMORPG Guilds)
- Dragon*Con 6/29/2000: Online Gaming: Problems with Current Persistent Online Worlds (MMORPG's)
- Dragon*Con 6/30/2000: Online Gaming and Virtual Property
This is probably my favorite event each year: SimuCon, our annual convention in St. Louis, when hundreds of players and GameMasters come from all over the world to meet, party, drink, gab, dance, and in general have a fantastic time for a few days. There are many many websites floating around, with hundreds of pictures. For a representative sample, check out this page that points to the official memory sites from SimuCon pasts: "Memories" (I'm usually listed under Elonka or Nova). I've also got several pictures up at my main pics directory:
2003: Check out Kirafern's page for the most complete list of SimuCon 2003 picture sites so far!
I was one of the speakers at the annual Nashville hacker/technology convention PhreakNIC v4.0, and gave a presentation there on how to crack the PhreakNIC v3.0 code.
Hacker Threads gave my talk a very positive review on their PhreakNIC 6 page.
Recent/Upcoming AppearancesList moved to here.
SpaceProbes - The Planetary Society - Antarctica (and Mars!)
Did you know? My name is on a microchip that was launched into space aboard a probe -- Stardust -- that is going to rendezvous with a comet, collect a sample, and then return to Earth. Click here to see the NASA website that proves it! The probe was launched on February 7, 1999, and is scheduled to return to Earth in 2006. Click here to learn more about it. My name is on that chip because of my association with the Planetary Society. This is the same Society that organized my February 1999 trip to Antarctica. When there's room on their website, they occasionally post information about the trip on the Planetary Society News webpage. Another place to see pictures of our trip is at the site of my Australian-British co-traveler, Digby Tarvin (he's got such a cool name!).
2003 Update: My name's going to Mars! It launched with one of the rovers this year. If you think your name's on the rover too, check in this database to see if you're one of the 3.5 million names heading to become Martian!
Other Game Stuff
Hercules & Xena: Alliance of Heroes
I was Executive Producer for the creation and launch of our game "Hercules & Xena: Alliance of Heroes" from 1997-1998
Our play.net website
- For a tongue-in-cheek version of who does what at Simutronics, check our 1997 " Grand Posting of Those That Did Stuff" (make sure your volume is turned down!)
- The newer 2001 version of the play.net website credits
- April 1998: A press release that talked about one of our annual conventions, SimuCon '98.
GemStone III Newsletter
1995: Volume 2, Issue 1 of the Kulthea Chronicle, an online newsletter for GemStone III, our flagship product. As near as I can tell, this particular issue was published in early 1995, back when the game was based on the Rolemaster rules from Iron Crown Enterprises, and shortly before we launched our products on America Online. We've come a long way since then. Around the time of this issue, total simultaneous usage in GemStone III was around 50-75 users on a "big" night. By 1999, we had several different games up, not just GS3, with total simultaneous usage more like 5000 users! Plus we've got plans for our next big game, Hero's Journey, which will take us up into the hundreds of thousands!
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