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Code-breaking: Common Ciphers

Caesar Shift:
History: Roman Empire

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
DEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABC

(ROT3: shifted 3 forward)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K

This is called a ROT___ Cipher

Solving a Caesar Shift cipher:

Try applying a Caesar Shift when you have a string of words that look like they could be real
words, look for different length, and repeated letters:
e.g.

Notice the different length of the words, which seems like a sentence.

Vowel and Common Letter Recognition:


Probably your most important tool, you don’t want to have to try every single combination

In the example above: The code starts with the letter W – 1 letter long word.

What words in the English language are only 1 Letter long? __ and __

Test those shifts accordingly:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Word Frequencies in the English Language: Test the letters that appear a lot
Other key giveaways:

Apostrophes, commas, hyphens can all be giveaways to what cipher you want to use:

e.g. GYX'D – has an apostrophe, contraction: could include:

DON’T, _____

e.g. hyphens ABCDE-FGH: could be something like BRAND-NEW

Double Letters:

When you see two letters repeated in a row, it can only be a few letters, so test those
accordingly.

e.g. Double letters are usually: LL, RR, EE, CC, FF, TT, SS, PP
Examples:

L OLNH IULHG FKLFNHQ

The single letter L could be: __ or __

Common letters in the code are: __________

NYX'D GYBBI

Apostrophe exists, likely contractions: _____ and _____


ATBASH cipher:
Similar to the Caesar Shift, although slightly easier

Write the alphabet out, then write it out backwards underneath

A -> Z, B -> Y and so on

Solve: R ZN EVIB HGILMT

Deciphered: _____________________________________________

Tips for Caesar Shift and Atbash:

1. Whenever you see something that resembles a sentence, write out the alphabet
2. First try Atbash, write the alphabet backwards and try to solve it
3. If that doesn’t work try to solve it using the Caesar cipher
4. If both don’t work, try another type of cipher

ALWAYS WRITE OUR YOUR ALPHABET


Transposition Ciphers:
Transposition just refers to the way you read the cipher:

Common examples:

Reading backwards: Simple but deceptively difficult

DIARFA EB OT NOSAER ON SI EREHT

Deciphered: _________________________________________________

Zig-zag or railroad cipher:

Can be hard to spot:

WWLATCADW
EILTAKTAN

Deciphered: _____________________________________________

Missing vowel:

Quite simple: the vowels are just missing.

HLP M WTH MY PRBLM

Deciphered: _____________________________________________

Write your own:

Backwards code:

Zig-zag code:

Missing vowel code:


Pig-Pen Cipher:

Solve:

Your own: