PhreakNIC v3.0 Code Tutorial
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Lesson 6 - Chapter Review

Subj:  [SE2600-P] PhreakNIC Code Lab - Lesson 6 - Chapter Review
Date: 09/07/2000 5:11:31 AM Central Daylight Time

This is an ongoing series to dissect the PhreakNIC v3.0 code, which can be
seen at

Hello class, been studying your current events?  PGP has been in the news
recently, so this is an excellent opportunity to learn how a PGP key is put
together.  Evidently PGP versions 5.5 and higher have a security
vulnerability.  If a malicious type could manipulate a PGP key in the public
key directory, they could decrypt the victim's encoded messages.

Here are a couple links if you'd like to read more about it:

Of course, hint-junkies that we are, we wonder, "Hmmm, if PGP has a security
hole, does that mean we could use it to crack the PGP message in the
PhreakNIC v3.0 Code?"  Could there be a ray of light, a glimmer of hope?
Alas though, our PhreakNIC Code message has been encoded with PGP v2.6.2, so
it's still secure.  Curses!

Getting back to our review, let's go over what we've solved so far . . .

The PhreakNIC v3.0 Code can be broken down into five sections:

 (1) The first line of numbers
 (2) A few lines of "poem" gibberish
 (3) A rotated PGP message
 (4) A rotated UUencoded message
 (5) The last "bkkbb" line

Here's what we've deciphered in each of those sections:

(1) The first line:  Hexadecimal numbers that translate to gibberish ASCII,
which when converted via ROT-13 decoding say:

         "Nice start. Now it gets tough."

(2) The gibberish after, a 9-line poem rotated via ROT-13.  Each sentence an
anagram, with some of the letters set off with () and [] marks.  But we
haven't solved all of it yet.

(3) A short PGP message, again rotated by ROT-13.  We've got it formatted
properly, but still don't know whether we need to make a key, or find one.

(4) A short UUencoded message, rotated by ROT-13.  Once unrotated, and
tweaked into the proper format, it decodes to a file called un-uu-me.txt.
That file turned out to contain a series of columns of 5-character blocks,
which, when decoded, pointed to information about the CIA's Kryptos monument.
An interesting journey, but not relevant to the rest of the Code.

(5) The last line, the "bkkbb" section.  It's a representation of binary
code, which translated to ASCII characters: "end here".

So, we've solved sections 1, 4, and 5.  Which leaves section 2 (the poem) and
section 3 (the PGP message).

How do we get into that PGP section?  We've solved everything else, and all
that's left is the poem, so something in that poem must either tell us how to
BUILD a key, or else the poem tells us where to FIND a key.

How've you been doing on those anagrams?  Here's what we found so far:

The earnes[t][se]crets sho(n)e.              -->    ??
(O)ne hears sat[i]re.                        -->    ??
Ahem - r(e)ally rag Satan.                   -->  They are all anagrams.
(A)(T)M of Hel(l).                           -->  All of them.
Evil nos[e]energy.                           -->  Every single one.
O, the (C)IA net lunacy.                     -->  They contain a clue.
Obey luser ca[m].                            -->    ??
P[h]one far-fe[t]ched[r]oot text[.]          -->  For the next part of the code.
A data-[l]in[k] g[r](u)mbles on the cloud(.) -->    ??

As for the letters in () and [] marks:

[]: t se i e m h t r . l k r
(): n O e A T l C u .

When we did a frequency distribution on the whole lot:


The most common letters E and T, followed by R and L.  Well, E and T *are*
the most commonly-used letters in the English language, so, keeping in mind
that it's a small sample, it does suggest an english frequency distribution,
so it's worth assuming that they're anagrams, too.  Lots of letters there
though, so lots of possible words.

We're getting deeper into JonnyX's head, and closer to the end-game of the
Code.  But there's even more nifty state-of-the-art stuff ahead, and a *very*
interesting twist coming up. Not to mention even *more* bad poetry <grin>.
Stay tuned!

Next installment: Digging deeper into the poem!

See you next time,

Elonka  :)

"I'm a gamer.  It's what I am.  It's what I do."

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