Reclaiming the word Hacker

The term Hacker should be kept as they was originally intended, to describe those people who are curious about how things work, whether it be computers, networks, phones, electronics, maths, whatever. People who find ways to use things in ways that was not in the original specification. We used to cherish these people as innovators, explorers, etc. (Well apart from the early days when the church would burn them as heretics). We should go back to using “Hacker” as a positive description, and just call criminals “Criminals”. 

So Media People pay attention, to quote Randal from Clerks. “I’m taking it back”.

by Wayne Pendragon Owens

I am an Author, Freemason, Rosicrucian, Blood Biker, Widows Son, CodeNinja, Spod, Hacker, Son, Uncle, Brother, Man, AN INDIVIDUAL!

28th July 2010

Hackers – CyberSecurityChallenge Cipher – Walkthrough

After seeing all the people posting on Twitter/Facebook/Blogs how they have solved the cipher challenge on the CyberSecurityChallenge website when all they have done is take the first step, I thought it might be nice to post a small walkthrough to give some pointers, help, and show them that first impressions are not always correct.

Only read on if you have stopped trying to solve the puzzle yourself, or if you just need a push in the right direction. AKA, here be spoilers.

Step 1: The starting line.

So you went to and looked at the big pile of gibberish. While wondering how to start you noticed the gibberish had a familiar look & feel. Kind of like images in emails. You have an eureka moment and base64 decrypt the gibberish and get an image.  When you stop cheering, please pay attention to the Image. You are not at the end of the rabbit hole yet.

Step 2: Into the Rabbit Hole.

Look at the picture above, does anything look a bit Hinky? What about that odd looking border to the image? Do the pixels give you any ideas? (Nope its not Morse, but good thinking)  What if I Say the pixels are lengths 1-7? That’s right they are binary 1’s and 0’s. Here is the binary output going from top, right, bottom, left:


So a quick conversion to ASCII using one of the many free online app’s gives us :-

Cyrnfr sbyybj guvf yvax: uggcf:// uggcf://

Step 3: That’s almost readable.

Gibberish right? did you guess the binary thing wrong? But, uggcf:// looks very much like https://,  in fact the characters are just 13 apart from each other? Yes, it really could be that simple. a ROT13 cipher.

we now have. :-

Please follow this link:

Step 4: The New Code.


I added the carriage returns to make the code fit on the page better. So are you wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel yet? and if there is, will it turn out to be a train?

Do not worry, you are just one step away from completing the challenge. there is nothing fancy about this last code, its a simple text substitution code,  swamping letters, numbers, & symbols with two bit hex values. So using simple Number frequency analysis you can work out most the text in the message. (A clue to start you off, 04 appears 77 times so lets say space.  c5 is the last character so lets say . Adding the next 4 most popular characters will give you enough of a URL to get more characters)

Now using this method you will solve the message telling you how to report your success. You will just not get the actual code to use. But come on, you have the substituted vales for a, b, c, d, e, f, etc. You should be able to realise the system they used to pick the substitutions.

Step 4: The end

Congratulations d2 you’ve found and completed the REAL challenge. Your win code is  REDACTED.

Please email this code to our team at REDACTED. If you’re the first person to do so, and can prove you meet the eligibility criteria (British citizen currently resident in the UK) we will be in touch to advise how to claim your prize. well done and good luck in the Cyber Security Challenge competitions taking place throughout the rest of the year.

Well you did not expect me to just give you the code/email address so you could claim you solved it without doing some of the work?