Cipher Keys (Keyboard Cipher)

Webster defines ‘kid’ as the informal reference to a child. I like to think of a child as an analogy to the search for knowledge and wisdom.

The child’s unquenchable thirst for answers to its never ending list of questions supports the beginning of life’s journey on the endless path of learning. “The kid in all of us” never loses the inquisitiveness for the world around us or the curiosity for what the future may hold.

This column is dedicated to such a spirit of learning and the interest in one another’s leisure pursuits. Dare that I hint that the family that crypts together may develop a bonding in a mutually interesting form of recreation?

As we approach the threshold of classical cryptology, it will serve us well to develop a firm understanding of the device which allows us to communicate with one another in a disguised encrypted form. The key to this type of communication is appropriately called a “key.”

Most all encrypted messages are based upon a key that allows the receiver of the message to turn garbled disguised ciphertext into original plaintext form. It is these keys that we attack through time tested decipherment methods that allow us to read disguised text. When the cipher key is not provided, our work and fun as a cryptanalyst (solver) begins.

In Chapters Two and Three, we have mentioned the fact that there are many coding devices around the house. We are going to use the computer keyboard as the keying device to the cipher problems that appear in this month’s column.

Seek out a computer keyboard at home or school and carefully copy the three rows of letters exactly as they appear on the keypad. Copy them in upper case letters as they are going to be our CIPHERTEXT letters.

Now write the letters of the alphabet in lower case letters beneath the computer keypad letters from “a to z.” You have created the key to decipher the problems that appear below and can use this key to convert CIPHERTEXT (keyboard letters) to your plaintext key.

Keyboard Ciphers