Passcode Decoding Walkthrough #004.1

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Passcode Walkthrough for JoJo’s Word of the Day 2014-03-28

Decoding Tools

http://tools.decodeingress.me/

http://decodeingress.me/tools/

The 3 most common passcode formats are:

Long Passcode Format 1 (Mostly for the retired Niantic Investigation Board). This format seems to be deprecated. [2-9][p-z][a-h][2-9]keyword[p-z][2-9][p-z][2-9][p-z]

Long Passcode Format 2 (Mostly for older JoJo Word of the Day WotD or Cheshire Cat posts) [2-9][p-z][p-z][a-h][2-9]keyword[p-z][2-9][2-9][2-9][p-z]

Long Passcode Format 3 (Mostly for Niantic Project document posts and new JoJo WotD) [2-9][a-z][a-z][a-z][2-9]keyword[a-z][2-9][a-z][2-9][a-z]

Difficulty Rating: (out of 8. 1-5 are regular difficulty levels, 6-8 are very challenging):

Source of document:

https://googledrive.com/host/0BwXDFMPXURDAbzhTYkR2MDEwNEk/DEFCON.html

How/where to find the source of the passcode:

For JoJo’s Word of the Day posts, most often you have to view the source of the linked HTML document to find the actual code.  In this case, the code is buried in the stylesheet information for the page:

<!--|.-!|--!|!.!|-!!|.!.|...|--.|!.-|!-.|--!|-.!|.!!|.--|!..|!-!|!..|.--|!-.|.--|---|.-.|!..|.!!|!-!|-.-|--->

Methods/Process:

At first glance, it seems like this might be Morse code.  Perhaps if you consider exclamation points to be either dash dot or dot dash.  However, you might quickly realize that this will yield a lot of five symbol characters, such as -..-. --.-. .-.-. and others.  Typical codes involving Morse will only use the letters (which are four symbols or less) and the numbers (which are five symbols).  The numbers, however, never alternate dashes and dots, so these translations simply don’t match what we might expect for Morse code.  So let’s look elsewhere.

On second glance at the code, it seems pretty clear that the vertical pipe symbol | is a divider between characters.  Additionally, it seems that between each set of pipe symbols, there are always three symbols.  Furthermore, there are only three different symbols that appear: period, dash, and exclamation point.  So, three possible values for three possible positions means there are a total of 3x3x3 values: 27.  That’s awfully close to the number of letters in the alphabet, so let’s keep investigating.

Lots of codes end up using binary notation.  That’s a number system where you count using only ones and zeros.  So, starting from zero, you count: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, and so on.  Well, what if we had three numbers to use?  0, 1, and 2?  What might that look like?  0, 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, 110, 111, 112….  Let’s call this system “trinary”.  (It’s more commonly called “ternary”, but “trinary” is way cooler.)

Taking a guess at how to replace our symbols, let’s assume the smallest looking one is zero and the biggest is two.  So, we’ll replace periods with 0, dashes with 1, and exclamation points with 2.  And let’s change those pipes to spaces while we’re at it.

<!--|.-!|--!|!.!|-!!|.!.|...|--.|!.-|!-.|--!|-.!|.!!|.--|!..|!-!|!..|.--|!-.|.--|---|.-.|!..|.!!|!-!|-.-|--->

<211 012 112 202 122 020 000 110 201 210 112 102 022 011 200 212 200 011 210 011 111 010 200 022 212 101 111>

Hmmm… Hang on, we’ve got some angle brackets still sticking with us.  The code was embedded inside an HTML comment, which starts with <!-- and ends with -->, but the symbols match the pattern we found….  I guess we’ll leave them there for now and see what happens later.  Okay, let’s convert our trinary numbers into something more familiar, like good old base 10 decimal. (For this conversion, you can look at it as if you have “abc”, the decimal number is 9*a + 3*b + c.)

22 5 14 20 17 6 0 12 19 21 14 11 8 4 18 23 18 4 21 4 13 3 18 8 23 10 13

 

Hmm, that zero is a little worrisome.  At this point, we’d normally just go from letters to numbers, using A = 1, but if there’s a zero… Well, maybe A = 0.  Let’s just add one to every number so some of our cipher tools will treat the text better.

 

23 6 15 21 18 7 1 13 20 22 15 12 9 5 19 24 19 5 22 5 14 4 19 9 24 11 14

Passcode solution:

That’s better, everything’s between 1 and 26.  So, letters to numbers where A = 1!

 

WFOURGAMTVOLIESXSEVENDSIXKN

Three numbers show up easily there, and one seems like it might have just been a mistake or a misdirection.  Let’s assume TVO should be TWO.  Converting the words to numbers reveals:

w4gam2liesx7d6kn

Hang on… this doesn’t match our passcode format.  There’s an extra letter at the start and the end.  Remember when we talked about the HTML comment format?  Guess we shouldn’t have included those.  Away with you!

4gam2liesx7d6k

This looks good, but still doesn’t work.  Looks like we need to find a keyword substitution. “Lies” has never been used as a keyword, but if we refer to a list of known keywords, we can find a few good options.  Deceit?  No…  Coverup?  No…  Secrets?  No… Deception?

4gam2deceptionx7d6k

Winner!

Passcode items gained:

300 AP

300 XM

L3 Resonator (1)

L6 Xmp Burster (1)

Portal Shield (1) (Rare)

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2 Comments

  1. Only one problem… The correct numbers are 22 05 14 20 17 06 00 12 19 21 14 11 08 04 18 23 18 04 21 04 13 03 18 08 23 10 13

    The 10th number is incorrect.

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Passcode Decoding Walkthrough #004.1

by Roger Strain time to read: 3 min
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