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A while back I had mentioned that I was working on a bigger cipher project. This is it!

For me, the VIC Cipher represents the ultimate challenge in hand-created cryptography. It is the epitome of thousands of years of code development and one of (if not the) last functional hand-created cipher before the advent of computers. In a way, the VIC is a collection of other ciphers: lagged fibonacci generators, sequential substitution, digit-based (non-carrying) addition & subtraction, straddling checkerboards, and various types of transpositions.

If you want to know all about this amazing feat of code-making, here’s the full story from the CIA: link.

Before I continue, I need to put a special thanks out to “raincomplex” over at everything2.com whose extremely detailed post really enabled me to build this. If you’d like to try encoding or decoding a message with VIC cipher by hand, I recommend you follow his instructions.

1) How to encode a message

To encode a message you will need to memorize three bits of information. Luckily, they’re all quite simple mnemonics!

  1. A song lyric that has at least (20) characters in it, not counting spaces or punctuation.
  2. A date. It will be formatted as dd/mm/yyyy with no leading 0’s.
  3. A personal ID number. It needs to be between 0 and 16. (The math just works out that way)

Finally, each message will have a 5 digit random number added in. You don’t need to remember this after sending the message, and the recipient doesn’t need to know it in advance. So, if you can remember those three things above, and pick 5 digits, you can send a message! Let’s try it. You can type anything you want, but only letters, numbers, and the period (full stop) characters will be saved. (That’s flash below, not an image. You can try it right here!)

Vic Cipher Source

In the latest versions of Flash, Adobe has removed the Date Chooser component. As a result, and due to my laziness, I’m using one I found here. It does a decent job and remains fairly light-weight. Still, it’s a bit limiting when changing years. I should really look around for something more feature rich.

Update: Thanks to Carl Leiner the VIC Coders now have an awesome Date Chooser that can quickly update the year based on your typed input, or by the more familiar expanded calendar. Thanks Carl! Awesome work.

If you look carefully at your generated code, you’ll notice that (5) digit random message ID you added can be found in plain text near the end of the code. Its position is determined by the last digit of the date. Cool, right? Ok… lets look at decoding.

The requirements to decode are the same as those to encode. As long as your keys match up, you should have no problems. Your message may have some extra characters at the end. This jibberish is called “null characters” in code-speak. It’s just there so our numeric code is always in pretty units of 5 digits. If you don’t see any jibberish, it’s because your message already fit into groups of five perfectly.

And that’s it, folks. A VIC Cipher encoder / decoder written in AS3. Why, you might ask–I have no idea. It just seemed like a lot of fun. Now, get encoding. Leave me some coded comments on this post. :)

All the source for this lab project can be found here. All the libraries for the encoding can be found at my GIT repository here.

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James Tomasino

I like reading, writing, and arithmetic

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