Was the Zodiac Killer Cipher Solved?

Was the Zodiac Killer Cipher Solved?

The FBI revealed on Friday that the 340 Cipher – called after the number of symbols in the decoded communication – had been cracked. "Over the previous 51 years, CRRU [Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit] has studied various public proposed solutions—none of which have validity," the FBI stated in a statement. "Recently, with the assistance of several universities and museums, the FBI has successfully completed its analysis of the ciphertext." The FBI went on to say that the solution was not published because it is still being analyzed by experts at three federal agencies—the CIA, NSA, and Department of Defense's National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS).

The FBI said that it believes the sender of the messages was an individual who lived in or around Vallejo, California, between 1960 and 1964. The letters were sent to newspapers across the country with the same return address: "Ernest Willis".

The case remains open.

How was the Zodiac cipher solved?

"A team of three private people recently deciphered the encryption." The "340 Cipher" was regarded as the holy grail of unbreakable codes, and the Zodiac Killer claimed his identity was hidden in the grid of symbols in one of his four cryptograms.... The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit reviewed the evidence and concluded that Thomas Henry Harris murdered between July 1969 and December 1970. He had access to a large number of magazines and newspapers at the time so it wasn't a case of reading them all for clues.

The unit's chief psychologist, William C. Powers, said: "There are no physical or direct psychological signs that would lead us to believe that this was someone other than Harris. He appears to be a normal, mature male with a good job and a stable social life."

Harris's mother testified during his trial that he was born on February 11th, 1944 and lived with her and his father in San Francisco. His parents divorced when he was five years old and he went to live with his mother. She described him as a happy child who enjoyed playing football and baseball. When he was eleven years old, his father died of a heart attack.

Harris started writing letters to the editor of local newspapers several months after he killed himself in December 1970. He used a pseudonym (the "Zodiac Killer") because he wanted people to think that there were others out there who shared his interests.

Is the Zodiac killer solved?

The FBI has verified that code-breakers have broken a 340-character cipher allegedly transmitted to the San Francisco Chronicle by the so-called Zodiac Killer 51 years ago. The message was sent on 4 October 1967, just as Halloween was being celebrated across America.

The ciphertext alone is not enough to determine who wrote it because hackers can generate text with a similar appearance. But computer experts say that it is most likely an anonymous sender from California who went by the pseudonym "Zodiac".

In November 2007, the FBI released images of three handwritten notes left by the murderer at various times between November 1968 and April 1969. They were written in pencil on white paper with markers that had been folded in half with the words "killed 2 ppl rd Nov 68" written in ink below one of the photos. The letters were sent to the Chronicle with five six-letter codes embedded within them. These were later solved by investigators working with Ron Taylor, a former FBI linguist who specializes in decoding encrypted messages.

Based on these codes, they think he may have killed two people in November 1968. However, since then more evidence has come out indicating that there may be more than one killer at work here. A new letter was sent to the Chronicle in February 2009 with a new set of codes for investigators to break.

About Article Author

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is a professional security analyst. He's been operating in the field for over 10 years now, and has amassed an impressive array of skills. Michael loves his work because he gets to actively help protect people from harm, both physical and digital. He started off as just another soldier on the front lines, but quickly realized that he was meant for more than just combat duty. His sharp mind caught the attention of superiors who recognized that he had an aptitude for tactical analysis and cyber warfare - so they put him where his talents could be best utilized.

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