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Can I use ‘versatile’ websites in my method?

National Cipher Challenge 2019 Forums National Cipher Challenge 2019: Countdown to Catastrophe Can I use ‘versatile’ websites in my method?

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
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  • #44829

    Can I use versatile websites in my method for deciphering ciphertexts, if I haven’t coded the algorithms?

    The websites that I often use:
    https://www.boxentriq.com/code-breaking/cipher-identifier
    https://www.dcode.fr/monoalphabetic-substitution (specifically, the “Decode automatically”)
    https://f00l.de/hacking/vigenere.php

    #44831
    Harry
    Keymaster

    I am afraid you can’t if you want to be eligible for a prize, no.

    Sorry,

    Harry

    #44865
    19okeeffeg
    Member

    i use those websites all the time does this mean i wont be elegible because is said i was.Boxentriq didnt really help but th substitution cipher decoder kinda did

    #44869
    Harry
    Keymaster

    Breaking the cipher by using someone else’s work would break the spirit of rule e)
    “In submitting an entry solo entrants vouch that it is solely their own work and teams warrant that it is solely their own collective work.”

    We are flexible about this for early rounds, but pretty strict about it in the last round, and if the leaderboard is tight at the top we will take account of how much teams or individuals relied on other people’s code to solve the ciphers.

    Harry

    #44871
    Hoix
    Member

    I’m guessing that using stuff like bigram/trigram sites, frequency analysis sites etc are all within the rules though?

    #44872
    Harry
    Keymaster

    As long as there is enough individual work in the analysis that should be fine. We are very comfortable with anything that is equivalent to looking things up in a book and slightly less comfortable with using other people’s code to do the heavy lifting, but there is room for interpretation here. Our winners have usually written their own scripts or programmes to do this stuff.

    Harry

    #44873
    S-evan
    Member

    I mean, in these later challenges the skills that you miss by using other people’s code in the early challenges rather than your own are detrimental to your final performance. The last challenges tend to be quite fiddly so if you only use online tools chances are you can’t tweak them in just the right way.

    #44874
    Leo_yates
    Member

    Does that mean that using websites such as https://www.dcode.fr/frequency-analysis is not allowed
    Thanks

    #44875
    Harry
    Keymaster

    Online frequency analysis tools are a marginal call. It would slightly reduce your chances of getting a prize if someone solved it in around the same time using only their own tools and wit.

    Harry

    #44879
    George112n
    Member

    So teams who have done all the work on there own thus not quite making it for the 1st deadline but getting the 2nd deadline would not be considered for a prize but instead the cheating teams/individuals (of which I know one) who manage to get all of the ciphers done within like half an hour will get the consideration? I just hope the teams who have actually done all the work get just as much consideration as the “top” teams. Will we end up at a disadvantage from not cheating?

    #44884
    Harry
    Keymaster

    Well, no that is not true. The prize committee looks at all the people in about the top twenty submissions, filters out the non-eligible ones and then starts to invite people to send in an account of how they cracked the challenge and we take that into account when making our decision. We have to use a little bit of judgement, after all, we don’t insist you build your own compiler and operating system, but we work very hard to make sure the outcome is fair.

    #44883
    S-evan
    Member

    You’d absolutely be at a disadvantage [Edit by Harry: I think, from the context, S-evan means that relying on other people’s programmes would put you at a disadvantage compared with doing it yourself – read on to see what I mean.] If you write your own scripts then your programs will be much more flexible which is what is needed for the final challenge. If you just use online scripts you won’t be able to adapt them to suit the tasks at hand

    #44949
    Gh102003
    Member

    Harry, could you clarify this for next year by updating the rules to be more specific?

    #45030
    Harry
    Keymaster

    Sure, that’s fair, though there will always be a grey area where we use our judgement.

    Harry

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