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The NSA’s Code Tweet Deciphered

TechCrunch logo TechCrunch 6/05/2014 Alex Wilhelm

So, the NSA tweeted this earlier:

tpfccdlfdtte pcaccplircdt dklpcfrp?qeiq lhpqlipqeodf gpwafopwprti izxndkiqpkii krirrifcapnc dxkdciqcafmd vkfpcadf. —
NSA (@NSACareers)

What does it mean? Well, realized quickly it was a substitution cypher, something that is pretty simple to solve. In this case, c in the cypher is t, and d in the cypher is o, and so forth.

Here’s the coded words next to their corresponding translation:

tpfc [Want] cd [to] lfdt [know] tepc [what] ac [ it]  cplir [takes] cd [to] tdkl [work] pc [at] frp [NSA]? qeiql [Check] hpql [back] ipqe [each] odfgpw [Monday] af [in] opw [May] pr [as] ti [we] izxndki [explorer] qpkiikr [careers] irrifcapn [essential] cd [to] xkdciqcafm [protecting] dvk [our] fpcadf [nation].

Fun, yeah? Indeed. Without extra static, here’s the message: “Want to know what it takes to work at NSA? Check back each Monday in May as we explore careers essential to protecting our nation.”

Complex hiring tactic? Hardly. Solving the above doesn’t tell the NSA much regarding your potential for hacking, code breaking or anything of the sort. I suspect there are online engines that can solve substitution cyphers in milliseconds.

But, if the NSA wanted to get folks out there excited about code breaking, and potentially working for it, it’d want a tool that would drive attention and cause delight. Not bad for a tweet.


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