August 7, 2013 | By Aaron Jue

EFF's Encryption T-Shirt Puzzle - Solved!

After days of anticipation, EFF's "Encryption is Key" t-shirt for DEF CON 21 has been solved! DEF CON holds a special place in our hearts as one of the premier hacking conferences in the US, so for the past few years we have created special member t-shirts to honor the creative spirit of the infosec community. We started with "Things to Hack" at DC18, "Encryption Saves" at DC19, and our robot-pwning "Script Kitty" at DC20. For DEF CON 21, EFF Senior Designer Hugh D'Andrade and Staff Technologist Micah Lee took it a step further and created a one-of-a-kind cryptographic puzzle. The skeleton key embedded in code is your first clue that a mystery is afoot. (Ahoy! Thar be spoilers ahead!)

The binary around the key spells out "violating terms of service is not a crime" in ASCII, a reference to EFF's continuing efforts to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the draconian US anti-hacking law. (Special thanks to everyone at DEF CON who demanded action from their Congressional representatives at our CFAA DC Dialer phone booth!)

But there's more to the puzzle. Some of the zeroes and ones in the binary block glow in the dark. Converting only the glowing digits to ASCII spells out "d[EFF]con" in recognition of our ongoing work with the community. Note also that the key and red box are surrounded by black ciphertext symmetrically encrypted using GnuPG. Using the passphrase "d[EFF]con" decrypts the ciphertext to reveal the entire US Bill of Rights!

Following a URL at the end would lead you to a brief message from Cyborg Ada Lovelace, with the ultimate passphrase seen under her portrait. (She shares an important lesson: Encryption works, but don't get lazy!)

The first 10 people who solved our puzzle have been notified and will receive a beautiful, limited-edition 18" x 24" silkscreen print of the Bill of Rights design, signed & numbered by the artists!

EFF works dilligently to protect the innovative spirit of coders, hackers, and reverse engineers every day. Thank you to all of the people who have joined the movement to protect digital freedom and fight for a better future.


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