The NSA Careers twitter account just sent out what looks like a string of gibberish. Here it is via Neetzan Zimmerman:
— NSA (@NSACareers) May 5, 2014
ABC News’ Micah Grimes speculated that it was a code.
The letters don’t appear to be completely random.
First, all but two of the blocks are made up of exactly twelve letters. The exceptions are the third block, with a question mark in the middle bringing the total up to 13 characters, and the last block, with eight letters and a period. The question mark may be a typo or extra clue, and the last block might be shorter because it’s at the end of the message.
If this were a purely accidental tweet, it’s unlikely that we’d get this regularity.
Further, the letters don’t appear to be distributed randomly, or in a way consistent with a keyboard mash. Some letters, like P, C, and I, appear a lot in the tweet, whereas five letters don’t show up at all. Here are the letter frequencies in the tweet, as calculated with a set of online cryptanalysis tools:
A very simple type of encryption is a shift, or Caesar cipher. The alphabet is simply shifted over by some fixed distance. A Caesar cipher with a shift of 1 would send A to B, B to C, and so on, with Z wrapping back around to A. A shift of 2 would send A to C, B to D, C to E, and so on, with Y wrapping around to A and Z wrapping around to B.
We tried the Caesar cipher tool on the above site for the mystery tweet and a couple of shifts, and unfortunately came up with nothing. Here’s our input to the tool, shifting by half the alphabet of 13 letters:
We got the very discouraging output below:
If you can figure this out, you may have a job waiting for you at the NSA.
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