What is Cicada 3301?

I first saw this about a year ago on another site. That article was much shorter and knew less information but was still pretty crazy. This one is from Rolling Stone magazine and goes into much more detail. It is a super long read but well worth it if you are interested.

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/cicada-solving-the-webs-deepest-mystery-20150115

 

Here are the cliff notes. A secret organization that calls itself Cicada 3301 left a puzzle on a popular site that people who like puzzles (cryptography) frequent. There was a picture that said there was a message hidden in the picture, and that the organization was looking for the best and brightest to join their ranks. What followed is pretty crazy.

A group of hackers, and I use that term loosely as I don’t think they were hackers in the traditional sense, rather those who are familiar with coding and interested in puzzles, wanted to figure out what was going on. The cryptography community was a buzz about what 3301 was and what they were up to. Either way everyone wanted in, but the organization made it clear that they only wanted the best and would only accept the first ones that get to the finish line. They basically left a trail of breadcrumbs across the web for these people to follow if they could, including many pictures with messages encoded in them, a cipher used by Cesar of Rome, and many other puzzles. Honestly, whoever put this together is pretty clever and thought this out to the most intricate detail. To pull this off is quite the feat if you ask me.

To be honest this is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen or read about that did not take place in a movie. You know the one where the bad guy is always one step ahead, no matter what the good guy chooses to do. As soon as I read the first article a few months back I was intrigued about what was going on, and how much it sounded like a technology thriller. The problem is that no one knows who 3301 is or what they are up to. There is a ton of secrecy around the organization and those in the know are not talking.

The more I think about this I have to say that they are probably up to no good. The article goes into more detail, but one of the guys working on the puzzles was supposed to make some software that would release certain information to the public and what not. I think it would have been classified or otherwise information that was not meant for public eyes. This is where it this whole thing crosses the line into the terrorist category. 3301 wanted the best and brightest minds on the planet to join them to help do whatever it is they do. What better way to attract the best minds than to have an online contest where they leave tiny, almost impossible to find, clues that lead to something else. This technique has actually drawn the attention of the CIA, as they are using similar techniques to find new candidates for their cryptography department.

Again I think this whole idea is really cool, I just don’t know what they are up  to, and it really seems like they are trying to do something that is illegal. The article makes it seem as though they were obsessed with information and making sure that all information as available to everyone. In theory this is a good idea, and in a perfect world there should be no secrets between a people and its government. With that being said I think it is more than safe to say that his crazy messed up, terroristic, nuclear, intercontinental ballistic missile, world we live in there is plenty of information that we the normal people do not need to know. I do not think myself, who works in the energy industry, needs to know when a drone strike is going to happen, or that we have spies in Russia, or anything of that nature. That information is dangerous and I think could only hurt our country and lead to the death of Americans, therefore following that logic there is certain information that I do not need to know.

That is the problem with having too much information available, or arguing that we should know exactly what our governments are doing as 3301 suggests. Again in a perfect world this would be ideal, but we do not live in fantasy land, certain information is dangerous and us normal folks should not have access too. I do not trust the government any more than I have to, and because of that last sentence I am now on a watch list of the NSA and the CIA, which is fine with me as long as they click on an add or two. I do think there are certain things we have to trust them with and that is that there needs to be a certain amount of secrecy when it comes to global politics. I am ok with that.

I have a problem with people who think they are leading a revolution and are going to change the world by promoting an environment where all information is available, I would argue they are promoting anarchy and chaos. This is not a revolution but, in my opinion the newest form of high treason. It is scary to think that an organization like this exist and is on this type of mission. As more and more different aspects of our lives become digitized, this could very well be the future of terrorism. The days of threading with nuclear weapons, biological weapons, or a good old fashioned AK47, the future terrorist may just have an internet connection and a lap top.

With that being said I do think this is a really cool idea and their recruitment process is pretty cool, but until further information comes to light about what they are up to I am not really sure what to think about this. The future looks a little more scary every day.

Not wanting to switch gears here, but what the hell is with the novel, super long articles that are being published these days. I mean this article is turbo long and no normal person has that amount of time to read it (I am not normal by any stretch of the word. Who has about 20-30 minutes during the day to sit there and read this article that is over 6,600 words. That is not an article that is a novella). I will defend this one for the simple fact that Rolling Stone is a magazine to that is a little different, but it really gets on my nerves that there are so many more articles out there that are getting longer and longer. They are almost likes stories that go into every little detail about the issue. I always thought that articles were supposed to be short and concise and to the point. What happened to that mindset? This article like so many others have a beginning, middle, and an end with plot twist, and a surprise ending. I didn’t click on the article to read the novel version of the story, just the facts please. That is my rant for the day.

Manik

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