The US Navy cryptologists use a logo that contains an encrypted message. Can a reader decipher it?

Today’s crypto mystery was provided to me by George Keller from New York state, whom I have the pleasure to meet regularly at crypto history conferences. George is a US Navy veteran and radio amateur, who spent a part of his military service in Germany. The following picture was taken at Bletchley Park (as you see, George met Winston Churchill personally):


George pointed out the following logo (the Navy cryptologic community seal) to me:

160311-N-ZZ999-510 WASHINGTON (March 11, 2016) The new seal for the Navy cryptologic community released March 11, 2016. The design combines elements linking Navy cryptology's past, present and future; and focusing on their core missions of signals intelligence, cyber warfare, and electronic warfare. (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

There is an encrypted message written around the outer ring of the logo. It is hard to read, so George shaded the picture a little. In the following version, the message is clearly visible:


George also provided me a transcription (in groups of ten letters, to make it easier to copy and check):

BZoxfbEkgF  EkeJzjeJY2  CZacLJ9pLK   gkfI4=T3M5

fKUyeJ9qdZ   PjY2LbCplb   CVEoepQyeA   Ekf3QofbEW

dZgxBZacLH   oxgJYveJoq   CZ5mCVzjT3   olCAMcfJlm

CVESfJYbBA   Use25cOFEk   epTjUZaoB3   Ube25sBbEA

BAMpBAMoLH   9zCAMkgJoy   eqPjdZ4je3   MnCALjgJ8i

CJYvdACofI   EoCpCoB3Uc   LKUrfp91C2   jjf2YkOFEk

dALvLJakep   TvLKQzBZQo   OFEkepTjB3   o1CALjCJ9w

According to George, the Morse Code letters under the shield, which spell R3B64, might be a hint. It is not known what the binary numbers around the inside of the logo are, but many of them seem to start with 01.

Here’s an explanation of the logo:

While not a representative of a Navy organization or command in the traditional sense, this seal represents our own rich heritage, who we are and where we are going. It represents us. The Naval officer crest and our cryptologic technician insignia, with its lightning bolt and quill, represent and respect our long history. These symbols have stood from the earliest days of our community to the present day. The binary background overlaid on the globe represents our part in the larger information warfare community, whose seal shares the same symbolism, as well as our core expertise in cyber, along with our global reach. The skeleton key reminds us that we are relied upon to unlock and solve puzzles, and in many cases find missing pieces to paint a complete picture of our Nation’s adversaries. The key is engraved with the date symbolic of our collective establishment as a naval profession: March 11, 1935. The chain binds us all together — officer, enlisted, and civilian — and binds our core missions — SIGINT, Cyber, and EW — to us, and us to them. The three stars also symbolize these three core missions. Through the converged domain, we enable and deliver effects to the commander and fellow warfighters. Our Community Vision, an update to our 2012 Foundational Principles, is also under construction and I will share it with you as soon as it is complete.

George wrote to me: “If you figure it out, NSA will probably offer you a very high paying job.” So, if you’re lookig for a new career opportunity, try to solve this mystery.

Further reading: Listen to this musical cipher from 1933


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Kommentare (17)

  1. #1 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa.
    11. März 2018


  2. #2 Thomas
    11. März 2018

    “B64” might be a hint at Base64. I’ve tried to combine R(ot3) and Base64, but to no avail. Most likely something more sophisticated, nothing for pencil and paper aficionados :-(

  3. #3 Thomas
    11. März 2018

    Since it is a US navy cryptology unit’s seal, I suppose the career opportunity would not be offered by the NSA but by the Navy. Am afraid of getting seasick and will stop my efforts to solve this cipher 😉

  4. #4 OK
    11. März 2018

    Gut möglich, das B64 für Base64 steht. Der Zeichenraum passt.

    Base 64 dekodiert ergibt das Kryptogramm (in Hex):


    Evtl. jetzt ein binäres XOR-One-Time-Pad mit den Einsen und Nullen aus dem Hintergrund druchführen?

    Für was könnte der andere Teil des Hints, das “R3” stehen? RC3 schließe ich jetzt mal aus, das stellte sich ja einst als unsicher heraus und wurde nie veröffentlicht.

  5. #5 OK
    11. März 2018

    Gut möglich, das B64 für Base64 steht. Der Zeichenraum passt.

    Base 64 dekodiert ergibt das Kryptogramm (in Hex):

    05 9A 31 7D B1 24 80 51 24 78 9C E3 78 96 36 09 96 9C 2C 9F 69 2C A8 24 7C 8E 13 DC CE 5F 29 4C 9E 27 DA 9D 64 F8 D8 D8 B6 C2 A6 56 C2 54 4A 1E A5 0C 9E 00 49 1F DD 0A 1F 6C 45 9D 66 0C 41 65 A7 0B 1E 8C 60 25 8B DE 26 8A 82 67 99 82 57 38 D3 DE 89 42 00 C7 1F 26 59 82 54 44 9F 25 86 C1 01 4B 1E DB 97 0E 14 49 1E A5 38 D4 65 AA 01 DD 46 DE DB 9B 01 6C 40 01 00 CA 41 00 CA 0B 1F DC C2 00 C9 20 26 8C 9E A8 F8 DD 67 88 DE DC C9 C2 00 B8 E0 27 C8 82 25 8B DD 00 2A 1F 20 4A 02 A4 2A 01 DD 47 0B 29 4A DF A7 DD 42 DA 38 DF D9 89 0E 14 49 1D 00 BB CB 25 A9 1E A5 3B CB 29 0C C1 65 0A 0E 14 49 1E A5 38 C1 DE 8D 42 00 B8 C2 27 DC

    Evtl. jetzt ein binäres XOR-One-Time-Pad mit den Einsen und Nullen aus dem Hintergrund druchführen?

    Für was könnte der andere Teil des Hints, das “R3” stehen? RC3 schließe ich jetzt mal aus, das stellte sich ja einst als unsicher heraus und wurde nie veröffentlicht.

  6. #6 David Allen Wilson
    11. März 2018

    Wasn’t there an agency that did that a while ago, and it just turned out to be their public key?

  7. #7 George Lasry
    11. März 2018

    This is a strongly 4-periodic stream. For example, OFEkepTj appears in positions 136 and 260 (counting from 0), with 260-136 = 124. More repetitions can be found at distances which are multiples of 4. And the IC of each of the 4 phases is much higher than the overall IC.

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    11. März 2018

    Sylva Fae via Facebook:
    I’m intrigued to have a go at that code.

  9. #9 Rossignol
    Paris - France
    11. März 2018

    There are some transcription errors (confusion between 1, I and I)

    T3M5fKUyeJ 9qdZPjY2Ib CpIbCVEoep QyeAEkf3Qo
    fbEWdZgxBZ acLHoxgJYv eJoqCZ5mCV zjT3olCAMc
    fJImCVESfJ YbBAUse25c OFEkepTjUZ aoB3Ube25s
    BbEABAMpBA MoLH9zCAMk gJoyeqPjdZ 4je3MnCALj
    gJ8jCJYvdA CoflEoCpCo B3UcLKUrfp 91C2jjf2Yk
    OFEkdALvLJ akepTvLKQz BZQoOFEkep TjB3olCALj
    CJ9wBZoxfb EkgFEkeJzj eJY2CZacLJ 9pLKgkfl4=

    A ROT(-3) on uppercase and lowercase letters independently gives

    Q3J5cHRvbG 9naWMgV2Fy ZmFyZSBlbm NvbXBhc3Nl
    cyBTaWduYW xzIEludGVs bGlnZW5jZS wgQ3liZXJz
    cGFjZSBPcG VyYXRpb25z LCBhbmQgRW xlY3Ryb25p
    YyBXYXJmYX JlIE9wZXJh dGlvbnMgaW 4gb3JkZXIg
    dG8gZGVsaX ZlciBlZmZl Y3RzIHRocm 91Z2ggc2Vh
    LCBhaXIsIG xhbmQsIHNw YWNlLCBhbm QgY3liZXIg
    ZG9tYWlucy BhdCBhbGwg bGV2ZWxzIG 9mIHdhci4=

    Base 64 decode :

    Cryptologic Warfare encompasses Signals Intelligence,
    Cyberspace Operations, and Electronic Warfare Operations
    in order to deliver effects through sea, air, land,
    space, and cyber domains at all levels of war.

  10. #10 George Lasry
    11. März 2018

    Well done, Rossignol! Bravo et chapeau!

  11. #11 George Lasry
    11. März 2018

    The periodicity of 4 is obvious for Base 64 – every 4 symbols form a triplet of plaintext letters :-)

  12. #12 Thomas
    11. März 2018

    Good Job!
    Thus my guess Rot3 + Base64 (#2) was right? This yielded only gibberish.Oh I see, the Rotation is the other way round (-3)?

  13. #13 Klaus Schmeh
    11. März 2018

    Congratulations, great job!

  14. #14 George Keller
    11. März 2018

    For David, it may have been the key to Hilary’s server. HI

    If you do solve this, instead of a high paying job offer some agency may think you know too much and you may wind up in “Der Klink”


  15. #15 Rossignol
    Paris- France
    11. März 2018

    @George Lasry
    Merci George.

    Your guess R3B64 = Rot3 + Base64 is good… for encryption!
    According to Suetonius, Rot3 is the original Caesar cipher: US Navy cryptologists have a good sense of humor!

  16. #16 George Keller
    11. März 2018

    For Thomas, I had 30 years, never became seasick. GK

  17. #17 Breaker
    11. März 2018

    Try looking at Klaus’ Messages in a Bottle post and see what you can find that related to the missing sub the ARA San Juan.

    Project Architeuthis is another Navy Crypto Challenge that deserves it’s own write up.

    @Klaus do you want to collab on the Navy Proj?

    4 million dollar reward to crack the codes and find the submarine…..except you will have the whole US Navy after you for years….