This year’s convention will continue to be an online event, allowing for all members to attend from wherever they may live, while ensuring the safety and health of all. This convention will include our typical events – a social time on Friday, speeches on cryptographical topics on Saturday, and the annual general membership meeting on Sunday. In addition, the Convention Committee is proud to offer an additional Panel Discussion and special codebreaking event on Sunday evening!
David Oranchak, Sam Blake, and Jarl Van Eycke will be joint keynote presenters for the 2021 American Cryptogram Association’s convention! Dave, Sam and Jarl made history in 2020 for finding a solution to the previously-unbroken ZODIAC 340-character cipher, an effort recognized by law enforcement as a successful completion of the codebreaking efforts by amateur and law-enforcement cryptographers for over fifty years.
David Oranchak (A RICH ZIP CODE) is a computer programmer, creator of www.zodiackillerciphers.com, and the leader of the cryptanalysis effort. Sam Blake is an applied mathematician who generated 650,000 transposition variations for automated analysis. Jarl Van Eycke is the creator of AZdecrypt, they key software tool used in the successful cryptanalysis.
Online registration is required and will open on July 1st, 2021. Registration links will be available at www.cryptogram.org. There will be no cost to attend the 2021 ACA Convention. Members will have the option to watch (and participate) in presentations live, and most (if not all) will be posted on the ACA website for later viewing.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20th (all times Eastern)
Welcome and Opening – DARING FLAIR 6:00 pm (2200 UTC)
Social Time via Breakout Rooms 6:15 pm – 11:00 pm (2215–0300 UTC)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 21st
Opening Comments – DARING FLAIR 9:00 AM (1300 UTC)
KEYNOTE ADDRESS PART 1 – Jarl van Eycke 9:30 – 11:00 AM (1330–1500 UTC)
In December 2020, David Oranchak, Sam Blake, and I solved the Zodiac 340 cipher. The cipher remained unsolved for 51 years despite receiving widespread attention. My 1 hour+ keynote will focus on some of the many insights that were made by researchers at the Zodiac Cipher Mailings & Discussion section of the Zodiackiller.net forum preluding our solve, with a deep dive into periodical transposition and sequential homophonic substitution.
Bifid Bookkeeping – SHMOO 11:00 – 11:30 AM (1500–1530 UTC)
BIFIDs are not as hard as they look. A lot of what makes BIFID hard is the difficulties in bookkeeping. SHMOO’s “Easy BFID Worksheet Method” introduces a new worksheet which enables the various equalities of a BIFID to be visually and graphically tracked. As a bonus, it can be useful in key recovery. While not a complete method in itself, it can augment your regular solution schemes and, at its best, deliver you the full key square.
NSA Cryptanalytic Support to Law Enforcement – PHILLIES 12:30 – 1:00 PM (1630–1700 UTC)
PHILLIES has been a long-time colleague of FBI cryptanalysts, lending his experience and expertise on many interesting cases. He will discuss his work involving a chessboard cryptosystem used by prisoners, a stalking case in Miami that used a variation of the Pig-Pen cipher, a calculator-based cryptosystem, and a double transposition cipher sent to a potential First Lady of the United States.
DNA Cryptography – TIGER’S EYE 1:00 – 2:00 PM (1700–1800 UTC)
Iver Cooper, a retired biotech patent law attorney, will briefly discuss recreational DNA cryptography (like the MA2021 ornamental) and then examine the serious experimental work on the cryptographic and stenographic (message hiding) use of DNA “in silico” (codes and ciphers making use of DNA sequence databases), “in vitro” (DNA molecules encrypting messages and hidden like microdots), and “in vivo” (the message carrying DNAs are further hidden in living organisms).
Graffiti Cipher – EIDOLON 2:00 – 2:30 PM (1800–1830 UTC)
Last Spring I discovered some artistic graffiti near some ruins in a forest. The graffiti contained what looked to be ciphertext. After failing to recover anything, I did some sleuthing online and was able to find the artist. They pointed me to some additional graffiti nearby with more ciphertext. I was able to break this and solve the whole system.
Famous and Not-So-Famous Unsolved Codes 2:30 – 3:30 PM (1830–1930 UTC)
– NOLA KAYE with CRYPTOBLOGGER
There are many other noteworthy unsolved ciphertexts than can be covered in a 45-minute talk, so in this next presentation, the two will introduce many more spectacular unsolved codes. The stories they tell include a mysterious 1953 murder case; a 32-page cryptogram from WW2; a series of encrypted inscriptions in Australia; a hidden treasure; and a mysterious message found in a secret pocket of a century-old dress. While some of these stories are well-known, others have little coverage in any academic literature or presentations. However, all of these stories have one thing in common: they include an encrypted message that has never been deciphered.
Bringing Ciphers to the Virtual School Community – MiB 3:30 – 4:00 PM (1930–2000 UTC)
Science Olympiad Codebusters is an event for K-12 students to compete solving Aristocrats, Patristocrats, Xenocrypts, Baconian, Morbit and many other cipher types. In the event, teams of up to three students collaborate on solving ciphers. However with the current pandemic, many events have switched to being fully virtual and we needed a tool to allow for the same level of collaboration to occur online that they can do on paper. To that end we have created a fully collaborative testing tool using Convergence.io that allows students in different locations to work together solving many of the ciphers that ACA members are used to solving. These tools have been designed to mimic the experience on paper while allowing the event supervisor to automatically score the tests and even check for potential cheating. During this session we will demonstrate the tools and how the students use them.
Cipher Solving Contest 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM (2000–2200 UTC)
EVENING REMARKS – DARING FLAIR 7:00 PM (2300 UTC)
KEYNOTE ADDRESS PART 2 – A RICH ZIP CODE to follow
“Solving the Zodiac 340-Character Cipher”
SUNDAY, AUGUST 22nd
2021 ACA GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING 11:00 AM (1500 UTC)
2021 ACA EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING 12:00 PM (1600 UTC)
PANEL DISCUSSION 5:00PM – 6:00 PM (2100–2200 UTC)
SPECIAL COLLABORATIVE CODEBREAKING EVENT 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (2200–0000 23-08-2021 UTC)