The Internet Mystery That Has The World Baffled

An unknown organisation has crafted a seemingly unbreakable code. Dropping clues in different locations in cyberspace and meat space. A knowledge of the esoteric, math, cryptography, and who knows what else has been used to delve deeper into who knows where.

via The Telegraph

One evening in January last year, Joel Eriksson, a 34-year-old computer analyst from Uppsala in Sweden, was trawling the web, looking for distraction, when he came across a message on an internet forum. The message was in stark white type, against a black background.

“Hello,” it said. “We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”

The message was signed: “3301”.

A self-confessed IT security “freak” and a skilled cryptographer, Eriksson’s interest was immediately piqued. This was – he knew – an example of digital steganography: the concealment of secret information within a digital file. Most often seen in conjunction with image files, a recipient who can work out the code – for example, to alter the colour of every 100th pixel – can retrieve an entirely different image from the randomised background “noise”.

It’s a technique more commonly associated with nefarious ends, such as concealing child pornography. In 2002 it was suggested that al-Qaeda operatives had planned the September 11 attacks via the auction site eBay, by encrypting messages inside digital photographs.

Sleepily – it was late, and he had work in the morning – Eriksson thought he’d try his luck decoding the message from “3301”. After only a few minutes work he’d got somewhere: a reference to “Tiberius Claudius Caesar” and a line of meaningless letters. Joel deduced it might be an embedded “Caesar cipher” – an encryption technique named after Julius Caesar, who used it in private correspondence. It replaces characters by a letter a certain number of positions down the alphabet. As Claudius was the fourth emperor, it suggested “four” might be important – and lo, within minutes, Eriksson found another web address buried in the image’s code.

Feeling satisfied, he clicked the link.

It was a picture of a duck with the message: “Woops! Just decoys this way. Looks like you can’t guess how to get the message out.”

“If something is too easy or too routine, I quickly lose interest,” says Eriksson. “But it seemed like the challenge was a bit harder than a Caesar cipher after all. I was hooked.”


  • Simon Valentine


    pestilence is My call.

    • The Well Dressed Man

      Aw, Simon, could you just throw us some breadcrumbs here?

      • Simon Valentine



        Dendera delta Delphi
        era, phi, culture, pattern …

    • InfvoCuernos

      My Thoths exactly, Nobody uses Caesar cyphers anymore.

  • ziplock9000

    Joel sounds nieve to think it’s anything more than viral bs

  • Dingbert

    As they mention in the article, the gov’t does this stuff for recruitment/PR all the time.

  • Rhoid Rager

    The creators are probably using this cypher to select the smartest of the species to go with them into the tunnels before the impending cataclysm.

    • oneironauticus

      Pft…whatever…*goes back to building private bunker* I don’t need their bullshit tunnels…I’m breeding the super-race on my own.

      (I’m not *actually* sure how effective freezing all of my tampons for the purposes of preserving eggs is, but as long as my wind generator generates and my mini-fridge keeps fridgin’, my plans to become Mother Supreme of The New Race will go on without a hitch!)

      • Rhoid Rager

        Where do I mail my sperm sample?

      • Anarchy Pony

        Do you perhaps need and extra gun hand?

        • oneironauticus

          If only I had…some sort of…test…

      • Simon Valentine

        i never thought anyone would take the motherload fractal so seriously and in such an interpretation … then again when i was a boy some voice of plan “you must impregnate every single female” happened. now i’m just like. “wtf boy? you time travel’n and sh…”

        • oneironauticus

          I think that your urge may have simply been puberty.

          I once entertained the idea of donating as many eggs as possible…the concept really appealed to my vanity that I could essentially “cuckoo” (as opposed to “cuckold”?) stable couples to raise my genetic prodigy all over the nation, with little to no effort on my part…

          Indeed, the couples would have been *happy* about it and each child would be guaranteed two parents, so it would have arguably been a more moral act than the infamous acts of rapper baby-daddies…

          Too bad I still smoked a half a pack a day back then; now most agencies would consider me “too old” (they prefer early 20’s, never-smokers) Well, if I should ever have a daughter, I’ll be sure to let her know her options…

          • Simon Valentine

            something about that word has always seemed artificial in the not-by-an-artificer “make a joke about real life”, “society is a blatant lie” way. i wonder if people still find nose rubs deriding. on a transliminal tangent then, shall intellect have its version of puberty, or are such analogies mere hydrogen in the river… the alembic of the mind. a tiered retort per se. what of the calcination, and dreams trod out by day, what of the plane and the sphere and a genus so queer, what about plateaus and rather decisive nose rings in caterwauling clear out beyond the outer rim? by the angels halo. if only people could choose to see much as i see in what enough they may manage too… maybe we’d all find ourselves saying that each one to each other.

          • oneironauticus

            That…oddly reminds me of something I wrote last year, but will not post because…whatever, reasons-reasons, blah-blah-blah…vanity, indeed!

            “what of the calcination”

            …reminds me of the subject; something I “learned” (read somewhere and believed): the calcification of the pineal may not be caused by fluoride, as is commonly asserted widely throughout the intertubes, but by mere sexual hormones; we were doomed to be cast from Eden from the moment I bled and you sprouted chin hair.

            (Forgive my assumption–I’m attempting poetry, but may instead achieve seafood).

          • Simon Valentine

            nah way! i’m pretty sure last i used that picture it was tact onto a facebook post that was some sort of poetry and i was going to find it but i have like 300 and it’s a pain to go through.

            modulation … of various specters included but not limited to sleep and sex. somehow that’s not good enough. transience and reptiles … life in salt water … the [brain] sands of time … cataloged or experienced effects of drugs … imagination, thought, and memory capacity … hmmph. anyway. it has blood flow and is the “third eye”. somehow i’ll figure on working this into the recent writing project. i needed more info concerting the dreamsleeve and ‘that sort’ of mysticism anyway. it shall also go aways towards explaining conflicts of peek intelligence vs breeders and some of the flip-floppy ‘personality’ stuff that mystics are more [interestingly] familiar with. hmm very good. thank you for sharing insight. referencing the pineal gland. art.

            search for “bad lip reading twilight” on youtube and click the first link. your seafood reference reminded me

          • oneironauticus

            Oh…my god that was hilarious…I actually read the first book because I had a friend who insisted it really wasn’t that bad.

            I almost slapped her for stealing my time.

            (That…also calcifies the third eye, I’ve heard.)

          • Simon Valentine

            yeah all that little-branch big-branch trunk roots dragon hydra geis … too much roleplay of the precambrian and not enough paleozoic … regrettable words to be sure (had to look them up despite knowing what i was planning on talking about) … so, more importantly, the pattern derived of terminology and topographical morpheme may be superimposed with the self and shared as a communication interface possibly typed according to a prime element such as water such that language morphemes associated yield us to be speaking seahorse. thence we are indeed seahorsing around. aaaand now i have no clue how i got here. i should really pay more attention when using inter-transient reincarnation… good thing the spell wears off over time. now if i could just figure out if i am to behold a seahorser or see a hoarse beholder…
            #*feeling like Brelyna Maryon*

  • kowalityjesus

    Its always nice to know there are people exponentially smarter than me.

    • Simon Valentine

      lol is just my literal iteration of what was incarnated @ *reading that*

      now that i think about it, it was purely for the “i see what you did there”. there’s another word that i regret to say i forget, having had to do with self-deprecating senses of humors. aaaand i may have just … oops …

  • alizardx

    looking for fellow old-school crypto hobbyists?

  • jose chung

    What did one snowman say to the other snowman?

    • Rhoid Rager

      Smells like carrots.

  • Jonas Planck

    If you can figure it out, DON’T TELL ANYBODY. The people doing this will probably kill you because you’re smart enough to be a threat to their plans.


    i wish i was smart
    boo hoo

  • oneironauticus

    It’s spelled “naïve”; it’s French.