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Well, never fear, it can be done. It is simple password cracking, and you don't even have to buy a commercial tool to do it. There's a relatively new tool I've been using called Ophcrack that uses rainbow tables for really fast Windows password cracking. Ophcrack has a bootable "Live CD" version that you can use without having any other access to the Windows system. It's all over after that. Try running the Ophcrack Live CD yourself and see what you can find.

Figure 2: Windows version of Ophcrack. He has more than 18 years of experience in IT and specializes in performing information security assessments. He can be reached at kbeaver principlelogic. Please check the box if you want to proceed. The latest refresh of the Huawei CloudEngine switches highlights the preference of U.

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Grammar varies widely from language to language. And there are billions of possible word combinations. But there are ways to make all of this more manageable. We know the rules and statistics of English: which words go together, which sounds the language employs, and which pairs of letters appear most often. Q is usually followed by a u , for example, and "quiet" is rarely followed by "bulldozer. That narrows the number of possible keys from billions to merely millions. The next step is to take a whole lot of educated guesses about what the key might be.

But with every pass, it figures out a few words.

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And those isolated answers inch the algorithm closer and closer to the correct key. The algorithm can also help break codes, Knight told the Uppsala conference—generally, the longer the cipher, the better they perform. Despite his comments at the conference, Knight was hesitant to start the project; alleged ciphers often turned out to be hoaxes.

Unfortunately for Knight, there was a lot of human grunt work to do first. For the next two weeks, he went through the cipher, developing a scheme to transcribe the coded script into easy-to-type, machine-readable text.


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  7. Next Knight turned to his expectation-maximization algorithm. It generated clusters of letters that behaved alike—appearing in similar contexts. For example, letters with circumflexes were usually preceded by or. There were at least 10 identifiable character clusters that repeated throughout the document.

    The only way groups of letters would look and act largely the same was if this was a genuine cipher—one he could break.

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    Knight did a separate frequency analysis to see which of those letters appeared most often. The results were typical for a Western language. Maybe, Knight thought, the real code was in the Roman alphabet, and all the funny astronomical signs and accented letters were there just to throw the reader off the scent. Of course, a substitution cipher was only simple if you knew what language it was in. Five times, it compared the entire cryptotext to 80 languages. The results were slow in coming—the algorithm is so computationally intense that each language comparison took five hours.

    Finally the computer gave the slightest preference for German. Given the spelling of Philipp , that seemed as good an assumption as any. As long as he could learn some basic rules about the language—which letters appeared in what frequency—the machine would do the rest. He saw that one common cipher letter, , was often followed by a second symbol,.

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    They appeared together 99 times; a frequently came after:. Knight reviewed common German letter combinations. It was his first major break. During his vacation, as his daughters played on their iPads at night in the hotel room, Knight scribbled in his orange notebook, tinkering with possible solutions to the cipher. So far what he had was a simple substitution code. But that left scores of cipher symbols with no German equivalent.

    So one evening Knight shifted his approach. He tried assuming that the manuscript used a more complex code—one that used multiple symbols to stand for a single German letter. Knight put his theory to the test. He assumed, for example, that , , and all stood for I. It worked. On March 26, Knight reviewed his notebook. The words of his first phrase— Der candidat antwortet —were separated by an and an. That made no sense if the coded and stood for German letters. They were the spaces that separated the words of the real message, which was actually written in the glyphs and accented text.

    Schaefer stared at the screen.


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    6. She had spent a dozen years with the cipher. Knight had broken the whole thing open in just a few weeks. The message in these two lines was almost as remarkable. It was an initiation ritual, Schaefer said. Geselle literally means a "companion. In this context, a geselle was a rank in a secret society. At night, after she was done managing her department of courses and 25 professors and after she put her twins to bed, Megyesi sat at the computer, turning the symbols into text. She and Knight started emailing multiple times a day about the cipher—and signing their emails in Copiale cipher text.

      But they still hadn't cracked the code's big symbols—especially , which they transcribed as "lip. But they weren't sure what word it meant. Then one night in the middle of April, while Megyesi was working late in her office, she stared absentmindedly at the neatly arranged folders on her desk. She looked at a page containing the lip symbol.

      Schaefer walked into her office just as she was thinking about this. Megyesi looked up. It's an eye. As it turned out, Schaefer had made a discovery of her own. A phrase in the Copiale text, a reference to the "light hand" required to be a master of the society, had seemed familiar to her. So she dug up an academic article she had read some time before about a secret order in Germany that called itself the Great Enlightened Society of Oculists. The "light hand" was mentioned in their bylaws.

      It was a massive breakthrough. Active in the midth century, the Oculists fixated on both the anatomy and symbolism of the eye. They focused on sight as a metaphor for knowledge. And they performed surgery on the eye. They kept out the "charlatans" who could cause someone to "lose their eyesight forever. On their crest, the Oculists featured a cataract needle and three cats which, of course, can see in near darkness. In their bylaws, the Oculists' emphasis on the master's "light hand" seemed to be a reference to members' surgical skill.

      And they appeared to have a rather progressive attitude; women could be Oculists, just like men. The archives had a coded text just like the Copiale—and some cool amulets too. Megyesi plunged even deeper into the cipher. But the text confused her. The weird rituals it described didn't exactly seem like medical school classes. Although the Copiale mentioned the master's "light hand," Megyesi couldn't find anything in the coded text about eye surgery or cataracts.

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      Instead the Copiale noted that the master had to "show his skill in reading and writing of our cipher. But inside the order's chambers, the light hand must have meant something else. Could it have been about keeping secrets through cryptology? Even with its code broken, the Copiale's swirl of ritual and double-talk was getting harder and harder to follow—especially for someone whose experience with secret orders was drawn mainly from cheesy movies.

      Megyesi knew she needed help figuring out what these societies were all about. So she asked around for someone who could tell her what really happened in those candlelit initiation rooms. But he spends a lot of his time as one of 50 or so university researchers in the world seriously examining the historical and cultural impact of secret societies. Megyesi and Schaefer came down from Uppsala with the Copiale manuscript. Knight flew in from California. Though they were clandestine, they were often remarkably inclusive.