# 7CCSMCIS Cryptography and Information Security

Coursework 1
MSc Computing and Security
5 min read

## Caesar Cipher: Exercise

Use the following relative frequencies in an English text of 1000 letters:

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
73 9 30 44 130 28 16 35 74 2 3 35 25 78 74 27 3 77 63 93 27 13 16 5 19 1

to decide the most likely shift used to obtain:

K DKVO DYVN LI KX SNSYD, PEVV YP CYEXN KXN PEBI, CSQXSPISXQ XYDRSXQ.


Don’t just brute force but proceed strategically. Tally the frequencies of letters in the ciphertext.

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
1 2 4 3 3 4 1 4 1 4 3 1 6 4 7 5

As X appears in the ciphertext 7 times and E is the most frequent letter in the given table, it is reasonable to assume that X = E. If X = E, we have a shift of $-19 \bmod 26$ . This would result in our cipher -> plaintext looking like this:

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

Which gives this plaintext for the ciphertext:

R KRCV KFCU SP RE ZUZFK, WLCC FW JFLEU REU WLIP, JZXEZWPZEX EFKYZEX.


which, doesn’t make any sense. Systematically you can then apply X = ? where ? is the next most frequent letter from the given table. This gives X = T and finally X = N $-10 \bmod 26$ where you’ll find:

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

Which gives this plaintext for the ciphertext:

A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOT, FULL OF SOUND AND FURY, SIGNIFYING NOTHING.


## The Playfair Cipher: Exercise

Use the keyword “CHARLES” to encrypt the plaintext

MEET ME AT HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE TONIGHT

First we construct our $5 \times 5$ matrix with the keyword CHARLES:

$$\begin{bmatrix} C & H & A & R & L\\\ E & S & B & D & F\\\ G & I/J & K & M & N\\\ O & P & Q & T & U\\\ V & W & X & Y & Z \end{bmatrix}$$

We can then split the plaintext into pairs with Xs to fill repeated characters when necessary:

ME ET ME AT HA MX ME RS MI TH BR ID GE TO NI GH TX


We can then cipher this to get:

GD DO GD RQ AR KY GD HD NK PR DA MS OG UP GK IC QY


And decrypt to get:

ME ET ME AT HA MX ME RS M(I/J) TH BR (I/J)D GE TO N(I/J) GH TX
MEET ME AT HAMXMERSM(I/J)TH BR(I/J)DGE TON(I/J)GHTX
MEET ME AT HAMMERSMITH BRIDGE TONIGHT


## Viginère Cipher: Exercise

Use the tableu and keyword RELATIONS to encrypt TO BE OR NOT TO BE THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Steps:

1. Find $x$ value for each character in key by using it’s index in the alphabet. i.e. R = 17, E = 4
2. Perform Caesar cipher for each character in plaintext with each $x$ value, repeating key when necessary.
Key: R E L A T I O N S
$x$ 17 4 11 0 19 8 14 13 18

Encrypting TO BE OR NOT BE THAT IS THE QUESTION gives:

Key:            RE LA TI ONS RE LA TION SR ELA TIONSREL
Plain-text:     TO BE OR NOT TO BE THAT IS THE QUESTION
Cipher-text:    KS ME HZ BBL KS ME MPOG AJ XSE JCSFLZSY


To decrypt:

Cipher-text:    KS ME HZ BBL KS ME MPOG AJ XSE JCSFLZSY
Key:            RE LA TI ONS RE LA TION SR ELA TIONSREL
Plain-text:     TO BE OR NOT TO BE THAT IS THE QUESTION


The Viginère cipher presents an improvement over the Caesar cipher as it places a positional dependency on the cipher-text. It is isn’t immune to frequency attacks as you can see it is possible to guess the length of the key where there are reptitions in the cipher-text (there is ME encrypted for LA twice).

## The Churchyard Cipher (Simplified): Exercise ### What kind of cipher is it?

This is a mono-alphabetic cipher as each letter is mapped to one symbol/character in the ciphertext alphabet.

### Why is it so difficult to break? (Especially without the hint!)

It is really difficult to break as it uses a ciphertext alphabet that we are not as familiar with.

### What is the plaintext message?

So, after reading about the pigpen cipher and the tic-tac-toe hint; it’s clear that we can place our alphabet inside 3 tic-tac-toe grids and use the surrounding borders as an identifier for each letter; like so: We can guess that the dots refer to which grid to use, but which one? We can easily find out by writing down each combination (there are only 3!):

I E D E D B E T   D E A B H
R N M N M K N R   M N J K Q
_ W V W V T W _   V W S T _


From here, there is only one sensical phrase: REMEMBER DEATH.

### What is the key?

From the above, this makes our key: ## One-time pad: Exercise

### Given two distinct cipher-texts that have used the same one-time pad, what technique could an attacker use to break them?

The attacker could perform the same pad operation on the cipher-texts to obtain some information about the key. Ideally he’d need to intercept more cipher-texts with the same one-time pad. See coursework from QMUL (using XORs).