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Cryptograms

Cryptograms are encrypted messages, and this page illustrates some cryptograms which you can try to crack.

The cryptograms are divided into three categories, which increase in difficulty. These are:

  1. Caesar Shift Cryptograms
  2. General Substitution Cryptograms
  3. Vigenère Cryptograms

Each cryptogram section starts with a brief description of the cipher and hints as to how you can crack the cryptograms. Moreover, you can visit the Black Chamber, which provides you with codebreaking tools.

If you want to try something tougher, then you could investigate the Cipher Challenge. The competition is now over and the £10,000 prize has been won, but the ciphertexts are still available on-line. The cryptograms include simple substitution, Enigma and RSA.

Caesar Shift Cryptograms

The Caesar shift cipher replaces every letter with the letter that is a fixed number of places further down the alphabet. For example if the shift is 2, then A is replaced with C, B with D, C with E and so on. Or if there is a shift of 5 then A is replaced with F, B with G, C with H and so on.

You can find out more about the Caesar Cipher at the Black Chamber, where you’ll also find a tool that will help encrypt and decrypt messages encrypted using this cipher.

1. An easy one to begin with:

BZDRZQ’R VHED LTRS AD ZANUD RTROHBHNM

2. Another easy one:

LWW RLFW TD OTGTOPO TYEZ ESCPP ALCED ZYP ZQ HSTNS ESP MPWRLP TYSLMTE ESP LBFTELYT LYZESPC ESZDP HSZ TY ESPTC ZHY WLYRFLRP LCP NLWWPO NPWED TY ZFC RLFWD ESP ESTCO LWW ESPDP OTQQPC QCZX PLNS ZESPC TY WLYRFLRP NFDEZXD LYO WLHD

3. Slightly tougher:

KENKMOC PYBDEXK TEFKD

4. Slightly tougher still:

MHILYLZAZBHLXBPZXBLMVYABUHLHWWPBZJSHBKPBZJH
LJBZKPJABTHYJHUBTLZAULBAYVU

General Substitution Cryptograms

General Substitution Ciphers substitute one letter of the alphabet with another letter or symbol. For example, in a piece of text the word THE may be replaced by the word FSQ, where F represents T, and S represents H, and Q represents an E.

This will keep the message secret from prying eyes. However, this method of encryption has one fatal flaw. The message can still be broken, using a method known as frequency analysis. This involves analysing the ciphertext to see which letters appear most frequently in the text and deducing that they represent the most common letters in normal texts. The letters E, T then A appear most frequently in English texts, so the letters that appear most frequently in the encrypted text probably represent these.

You can find out more about Substitution Ciphers in the Black Chamber. There is also a section which will show you how to crack the Substitution Cipher for yourself, and it even includes a codebreaking tool.

1. A Classic Tale About Vanity…

AKBP AKBP PSKFG KUC ZWJSQ KB SADSFCF LVC HVCIUVH GC AIOV CT BSL OZCHVSG HVKH VS GDSBH KZZ VWG ACBSP WB CFQSF HC CMHKWB HVSA VWG CBZP KAMWHWCB LKG HC MS KZLKPG LSZZ QFSGGSQ VS QWQ BCH OKFS TCF VWG GCZQWSFG KBQ HVS HVSKHFS QWQ BCH KAIGS VWA HVS CBZP HVWBU WB TKOH VS HVCIUVH KBPHVWBU CT LKG HC QFWJS CIH KBQ GVCL K BSL GIWH CT OZCHVSG VS VKQ K OCKH TCF SJSFP VCIF CT HVS QKP KBQ KG CBS LCIZQ GKP CT K YWBU VS WG WB VWG OKMWBSH GC CBS OCIZQ GKP CT VWA HVS SADSFCF WG WB VWG QFSGGWBU FCCA

HINT | ANSWER

2. Two Famous Children’s Authors

DROBO HGC YXKO EZYX G DSWO G PSCROBWGX VSFOM HSDR RSC HSPO SX G ZSQCDLO KVYCO IL DRO COG GXM OFOBL MGL RO HOXD YED PSCRSXQ GXM RO PSCROM GXM RO PSCROM GXM YXKO RO HGC CSDDSXQ HSDR RSC BYM VYYUSXQ GD DRO KVOGB HGDOB GXM RO CGD GXM RO CGD DROX RSC VSXO CEMMOXVL HOXD MYHX PGB MYHX IOVYH GXM HROX RO MBOH SD EZ GQGSX RO IBYEQRD YED G VGBQO PVYEXMOB DROX DRO PVYEXMOB CGSM DY RSW RGBU LYE PSCROBWGX S ZBGL LYE VOD WO VSFO S GW XY PVYEXMOB BOGVVL IED GX OXKRGXDOM ZBSXKO HRGD QYYM HSVV SD MY LYE DY USVV WO S CRYEVM XYD IO QYYM DY OGD ZED WO SX DRO HGDOB GQGSX GXM VOD WO QY KYWO CGSM DRO PSCROBWGX DROBO SC XY XOOM PYB CY WGXL HYBMC GIYED SD G PSCR DRGD KGX DGVU S CRYEVM KOBDGSXVL VOD QY GXLRYH GXM HSDR DRGD RO ZED RSW IGKU GQGSX SXDY DRO KVOGB HGDOB GXM DRO PVYEXMOB HOXD DY DRO IYDDYW VOGFSXQ G VYXQ CDBOGU YP IVYYM IORSXM RSW DROX DRO PSCROBWGX QYD EZ GXM HOXD RYWO DY RSC HSPO SX DRO ZSQCDLO

HINT | ANSWER

3. A Darwinian Piece…

SMWJ SW PZZD CZ CMW RJTRHRTGEPB ZY CMW BEXW HELRWCA ZL BGIHELRWCA ZY ZGL ZPTWL NGPCRHECWT VPEJCB EJT EJRXEPB ZJW ZY CMW YRLBC VZRJCB SMRNM BCLRDWB GB RB CMEC CMWA FWJWLEPPA TRYYWL XGNM XZLW YLZX WENM ZCMWL CMEJ TZ CMW RJTRHRTGEPB ZY EJA ZJW BVWNRWB ZL HELRWCA RJ E BCECW ZY JECGLW SMWJ SW LWYPWNC ZJ CMW HEBC TRHWLBRCA ZY CMW VPEJCB EJT EJRXEPB SMRNM MEHW IWWJ NGPCRHECWT EJT SMRNM MEHW HELRWT TGLRJF EPP EFWB GJTWL CMW XZBC TRYYWLWJC NPRXECWB EJT CLWECXWJC R CMRJD SW ELW TLRHWJ CZ NZJNPGTW CMEC CMRB FLWECWL HELREIRPRCA RB BRXVPA TGW CZ ZGL TZXWBCRN VLZTGNCRZJB MEHRJF IWWJ LERBWT GJTWL NZJTRCRZJB ZY PRYW JZC BZ GJRYZLX EB EJT BZXWSMEC TRYYWLWJC YLZX CMZBW CZ SMRNM CMW VELWJCBVWNRWB MEHW IWWJ WQVZBWT GJTWL JECGLW CMWLW RB EPBZ R CMRJD BZXW VLZIEIRPRCA RJ CMW HRWS VLZVZGJTWT IA EJTLWS DJRFMC CMEC CMRB HELREIRPRCA XEA IW VELCPA NZJJWNCWT SRCM WQNWBB ZY YZZT

HINT | ANSWER

4. A Cryptogram With A Twist…

GPJDB, SB MDJTP, DOJ DQWP PO HTDOG UPDMJTOHW, D MDSST, DO DJNTMDQ OPGPMTPKW ZPM UTW QTOYW GP NDWPOMB, D GMTP PZ IDMJTODQW, D GMTP, GPP, PZ TOWTHOTZTIDOG VPQTGTITDOW (SPKHUG DOJ VDTJ ZPM SB D MTIU DOJ IPMMKVGDOHQP-IDODJTDO SDOYTOH IPMVPMDGTPO) TOZPMN KW DQQ PZ UPF PKM IPKOGMB OPF MTWYW JBTOH PZ WGDMXDGTPO.D MKNPKM, GUDGW NB TOTGTDQ GUPKHUG DW T WFTGIU PZZ NB MDJTP, MKNPKM PM VPWWTSQB D UPDL.

HINT | ANSWER

5. Monoalphabetic Cipher with Homophones

Some letters may be substituted by more than one letter or symbol. For example, the letters A and B below, might both be substitutes for N.

IXDVMUFXLFEEFXSOQXYQVXSQTUIXWF*FMXYQVFJ*FXEFQUQX
JFPTUFXMX*ISSFLQTUQXMXRPQEUMXUMTUIXYFSSFI*MXKFJ
F*FMXLQXTIEUVFXEQTEFXSOQXLQ*XVFWMTQTUQXTITXKIJ*F
MUQXTQJMVX*QEYQVFQTHMXLFVQUVIXM*XEI*XLQ*XWITLIXE
QTHGXJQTUQXSITEFLQVGUQX*GXKIEUVGXEQWQTHGXDGUFXTIT
XDIEUQXGXKFKQVXSIWQXAVPUFXWGXYQVXEQJPFVXKFVUPUQXQX
SGTIESQTHGX*FXWFQFXSIWYGJTFXDQSFIXEFXGJPUFXSITXRPQEUG
XIVGHFITXYFSSFI*CXC*XSCWWFTIXSOQXCXYQTCXYIESFCX*FXCKV
QFXVFUQTPUFXQXKI*UCXTIEUVCXYIYYCXTQ*XWCUUFTIXLQFXVQW
FXDCSQWWIXC*FXC*XDI**QXKI*IXEQWYVQXCSRPFEUCTLIXLC*X*C
UIXWCTSFTIXUPUUQX*QXEUQ**QXJFCXLQX*C*UVIXYI*IXKQLQCX*CX
TIUUQXQX*XTIEUVIXUCTUIXACEEIXSOQXTITXEPVJQCXDPIVXLQ*X
WCVFTXEPI*IXSFTRPQXKI*UQXVCSSQEIXQXUCTUIXSCEEIX*IX*PWQ
XQVZXLFXEIUUIXLZX*ZX*PTZXYIFXSOQXTUVZUFXQVZKZWXTQX*Z*
UIXYZEEIRPZTLIXTZYYZVKQXPTZXWITUZJTZXAVPTZXYQVX*ZXLFEUZT
HZXQXYZVKQWFXZ*UZXUZTUIXRPZTUIXKQLPUZXTITXZKQZ
XZ*SPTZXTIFXSFXZ**QJVNWWIXQXUIEUIXUIVTIXFTXYFNTUIXS
OQXLQX*NXTIKNXUQVVNXPTXUPVAIXTNSRPQXQXYQVSIEE
QXLQ*X*QJTIXF*XYVFWIXSNTUIXUVQXKI*UQXF*XDQXJFVBVXSI
TXUPUUQX*BSRPQXBX*BXRPBVUBX*QKBVX*BXYIYYBXFTXEPEIXQX
*BXYVIVBXFVQXFTXJFPXSIWB*UVPFXYFBSRPQFTDFTXSOQX*XWBVXDP
XEIYVBXTIFXVFSOFPEIXX*BXYBVI*BXFTXSILFSQXQXQRPBUIV

HINT

Please note that this final cipher is from stage 3 of the Cipher Challenge. Therefore I have not revealed the answer for this one. Happy cracking!

Vigenère Cryptograms

The Vigenère Cipher is similar to the Substitution Cipher as each letter is substituted for a different letter, but crucially the way a letter is substituted also depends on its position, so the same letter can be encrypted in different ways. Each L in HELLO would be encrypted differently, so the result could be JBYSZ.

You can find out exactly how the Vigenère Cipher works by visiting the Black Chamber, where you’ll also find a section that explains how you can crack the Vigenère cipher, and there is even a Vigenère cracking tool.

Cryptogram 1

RIKVBIYBITHUSEVAZMMLTKASRNHPNPZICSWDSVMBIYFQEZ
UBZPBRGYNTBURMBECZQKBMBPAWIXSOFNUZECNRAZFPHI
YBQEOCTTIOXKUNOHMRGCNDDXZWIRDVDRZYAYYICPUYDH
CKXQIECIEWUICJNNACSAZZZGACZHMRGXFTILFNNTSDAFGY
WLNICFISEAMRMORPGMJLUSTAAKBFLTIBYXGAVDVXPCTSV
VRLJENOWWFINZOWEHOSRMQDGYSDOPVXXGPJNRVILZNARE
DUYBTVLIDLMSXKYEYVAKAYBPVTDHMTMGITDZRTIOVWQIEC
EYBNEDPZWKUNDOZRBAHEGQBXURFGMUECNPAIIYURLRIPTFO
YBISEOEDZINAISPBTZMNECRIJUFUCMMUUSANMMVICNRHQJM
NHPNCEPUSQDMIVYTSZTRGXSPZUVWNORGQJMYNLILUKCPHD
BYLNELHPVKYAYYBYXLERMMPBMHHCQKBMHDKMTDMSSJE
VWOPNGCJMYRPYQELCDPOPVPBIEZALKZWTOPRYFARATPBH
GLWWMXNHPHXVKBAANAVMNLPHMEMMSZHMTXHTFMQVLIL
OVVULNIWGVFUCGRZZKAUNADVYXUDDJVKAYUYOWLVBEOZF
GTHSPJNKAYICWITDARZPVU

HINT | ANSWER

Cryptogram 2

QVUEVAIOHJCFMINRCFIYTMPZTFGVKIEKSQAVLOXWVBEKCEOX
TEXPKIQVXRHTRQISPZYBRSWEHJPOGHJYDXJGEJTWPHXEXRIESK
VITHVJDVGXBMAMEBXQWEPIMMHSKVEIAIFFCPTPHIMMPRFVEJTX
QUIZPPNXHMXTKZMSTTKKVFEEUFCCPXJXVPUEOBPVCEOXSKILGT
YQWSTBXVDJJBWQDQDLXLCICGHJNWKLXBGQTLNLTKCKKBGCYA
SJPVTBIAILGUPXROUFMQWEUBRBKITLETBCHTXETVQKQVBSVAIOP
RFGISTVUTAXCCNBOBCIULSCTMVAIODJVAIJUSTMLBXVFTCPLITXP
LCKDXJLGIVAIAPCUHJMWSVHKOPTJLQVUMTLXCPREBIPGIITVAXRI
PLXIXJXCTTVGEMHTAGKIRCVGTWLCEDECATVKOIAUVQFXETMTM
SJQWVHRBHXJXWEPTGHJQWINXXQTVUHRJNJCMLBGWITZBBICGSA
SMFXEQWEVAITPWCLURPVGLXLJXFTVHBEPPMQWGWKPVQPCVOE
PMTYVLBXJXGEPVCVXBGEPWXRGRQYXETMPLGOXTVBSKPPUHKBD
VIBEKPAKYILUXJXEYDZGBHOTACVLFAHKLLZDREEYPXSPMLXIQAF
SQWITPEPUVGVOITHCGHPXGMECQDJKOIIXXVEIPISPXPLOIPZIPTEEA
EYDYVTJLDXCGHXWENYPLCKYAMZWAGKIXGVCGKBSMPTRBPXTHA
YTWKWIQWIKKKOPZGTRALITXWXRVGWXLILGFIJDVAHJCXZGEMQIP
GUVLILGKWLUQKGITWSITZBJTVKCFCKVHKBIENBZFCKGQGBTHKGK
INICKPVXRVAEQJRKOIOHENLXOJKIEIFPQKGHBQXGWJLGEDXPFTJKK
IIXKKHYPACGGXBGXCBRBSXJTXQWIAAEAPPNUIBCFQKRLCXJXMOQ
EEDWTXXJMLBXVJTRAHMPMLBXVVKSRHITLTLROGMWXCHJTHKTZG
KXXZIPMLBBSWMMKILKLWQPXGHJBMMUMIKRIQNVPLEUMLBBETLL
ZDYPMVVSSYGFVILGKMSTVYBXEXRCLXETVKOIOLSWGHQLIPMCJX
PGLSCILGLIXBCHBVPIQQLXSXZKWEKSFTHEAXQRKIPHMQGSCILGBH
BCXKMCLUXJBRDHWGXQPISOXXLWEXXFBTRITMKTHQGEJTQQKEY
AITTAXUXGKRLDRVHAXGHUXZBCMPZEQHYEAEQXQGBJLJRFHYQUST
VIOIEKGXEPXVAMPQPGTOMAEEXSSTVIKSTCAKMLKTXVEIPLEUML
BRLWKGENETWEKSXJTXMWMNBTMXVTBTIPXGHJQWMUIEOXWJTRAP
PUHKBDVIBEKPAKYILUXJXEYDZGPIOTHGTHXCHDNVFTHCGHQWE
VTPBMEPWIOQETMLLASOXAXQVCAEJISDBEPPRFKSDTVKGJXCXEAMIS
VGGSCILGTJLGIUTMALITXEIHSFXEAPRFUYOXIFTRAILCMXETHCKOC
AEVPMISITGIPHFGRSKSXJXGEJVEACXGHKGXBGWGVXBSAKMLANO
GLEKSQQNRAHEPWKXIIUPMQWWETXQTVGWGXIXNXJBTHKGKLCM
VPEPILGFEOHLGLEKSXJTXQWINHAITEFXRIXRGUIVDRFPEPILGKMST
VCGHQWEVMLBSMUMEKIWCOEDTPCBVCGSOPLFRLVAITXRFPEPGY
UAMKVACLXETWGTEKSXJTXQWIUFEIAFWGHITSHLLFKITLKODAKG
KXUVCBHLUMVTPIPRFUIDXRPBRDISEKCTPWRBT

HINT | ANSWER

Cryptogram 3

MVZJFVCKNJSMYKVYMZBEXEWMNJVCKFKFHKFYOVZJXUTY
KRBBPZRCTWHCKYSFTUGYVBSBMYSDTDCSLKCUGFTRKFMKTEMA
BKWCLUWBAVJGLZHYGUAYGPKCKVHFXEORBFBQPZHFPYCQXDOLGVF
QTERANJHMFJVCPRGYVHIYBEHCWDCPXFJCKYSQNWTCKVRKNTVZRJ
SYPYWJXKFWBEURHJOTXYWQHNBJBWSYGUPPBEUFBJACGJODXCMFH
DSZNKRMPYORAVAGZYHFXTCSEUBMMJOTXYWQFVBDHIHFXPDCKZGF
XUHFKFIEAKVCBICUGJVCXITMECMGGVORBEURAVQYMKZCHWHFXJIL
ZFRFRGSPBFBQHKVCZFRNKVJCGKSBMYSKYICKXMSPKVOAAZBEAFAC
MVZJFVHMHRPMNKOJEKVCLVHFBEUQHUOSZYHCKFTHHMSDKFAUARH
QHVJCKJCSKTSWHLAYRBBMPKVCFJCLHNOJENVMXJQYIVRBXRHFBEPY
MKZCHIPWLYWNPISADYOBZFHQTWSJRYCKXVLAXGHSEPGQXJOLWYSR
AFIEAYSUTJZMGXWLZKCPXKIPGKCFBJKGYVOLWTCSGKFWPRGBXKOG
GVRZRKVCZFRBXJGATCMNLFKFHYOBZFHFBDWLMFOJTIUCVRJCTERUTE
HCWKCKTIFWAZAZNKOQRVOPLNSLMSMRAVFCVRACTKWKXNVCGKVC
ZFRQLVHREVRRARHFXJVMNCREHSOADKCGMYOATVJCGKVCGYCUXMS
PPYSLAVKYLRAMGXVGLFKLIVCNEVVGLKFMNSZCLNSPXECRRVHMOVF
LXMSPMYSJXJGYECHFXXCBLYOBGFKZXXILMFDGMPVGFVLAXGHLXGHS
GVKFHJHGECDCKJSANKSBAZAUBKVMNKQCTJWLZRBBPFIJWECREVHFB
DUCMYCKX

HINT | ANSWER

Cryptogram 4

MTIGCNGAEPIFCCLIPNCMQMDTQMFBZKCXIYBPAZORLQAZJMFIC
WRQQRFFACCRLMBTQLMTWZIFZZSFXMOUMFPEFMEQDAIDBLGRXG
LZIMCEGJGTNMYZBCWMZIWJIZOWYRPQOMRABMCPUMGCXTIEGGAC
WBLMDPDMJMOMRMATRYMBTMREWNMQBTPRIXGCCQADPBJDWXR
LQAEGVANDMGUMEWEBMCDIOBXGWMVEFVAXTQXEPPYZQVLLHYZS
CEFPNJMRNLLHUICCWGKSYWGQEYFXMAYMDBZBMHQOCXTMOCW
ATLRMAVMCXIMPLYEINYTUBLJJQTWMATMWGXFTPGQMOTLIPPZUQ
KPPYVFELPQQLEMAMZOQLUUHFIZQMCLQTOFMEJWYGWMJCWIQEF
HDIHQSECDNMOQZSWXGFLHQZEFIUZMPSIALQMDWOCYBIYBATMYF
MENTLKQZDQLQTECVQLEFIYAPJZQAHGXTIUCEXWFQVQAZJYFQZLW
FQWJJGZEFIDQYFMEELGWFKZYXMATYRZWFLGQLXWRMUPKVTMLRL
OTTDJUALGHMVZBAMAEFIMVDUIDUCJSOSHMSPGZSVZMHRIZIYRWUZ
TBSYGDCPRBSCLAVZSVANNYPXQYEEEAZMRMAAMWEQMJIMNECVY
GLPVUDLJXAMINVQADRLQPZNIFPLRMTIGCRABTLGAVGCRUMYAIPGZ
SFKUJNIDAPTIDIYAIUVDMPUKTRMZOEFIAKNSTMBTMRANEFVGASAV
AADEVMVRCMTMLPHKMDRIDLLWCACSYHTIOQSYMEFSGOSRWFPCS
WTKCMWEOCYRSMTQQKWHLWUZSCMZBPPVGXECHIQYAMZOTQLA
CWBRABLJPAELLCAVPRSUVNMRHMYGIZKPKIUNTASGTOFMZLPPMFE
LJOUVEFIIIWIMZELQYFBPPIPETRLOTZQIPBPCXTIYBIJXCCWEMORLQA
PLXUUPLXSWEMXTMOCYOMPTIZBSCKMBPMZQZHFMOPSCPQIYRQM
VTDIEBPBRAAJKTMBSGDUVRKSHMXCRFBZRLQEZPHEIYBMFPTLOFPLR
GUZNSQEBLLGQLPRIDUTLIPUPRSMKNCTFBSCMZDTREFQZLMRMWRMZ
BPPIEBPBMZIXYRIPZQIQUPBQAZPCBMORCVMBPBPKZPQIDDPBXTIYK
CEMWD

HINT | ANSWER