Solving the GCHQ Christmas Puzzle part 319/1/2016
Part 3 consists of four questions. The answer to each puzzle is a single word, which can be used to create a URL."
2. Sum: pest + √(unfixed  riots) = ? Hmm, how can we do maths with words? I played around with trying to assign meaning to the sentence, kinda like the old joke that you can show that $women = evil$. Women take up time and money, therefore: $Women = Time * Money$ Time is equal to money: $Time = Money$ Therefore: $Women = Money^2$ But we also know that money is the root of all evil: $Money = \sqrt{Evil}$ Therefore: $Women = \sqrt{{Evil}^2}$ Simplifying: $Women = Evil$ I wasn't able to come up with anything along this vein, therefore we need to try a new approach. If we are committing to the idea that the words represent numbers somehow then we need to try to assign numbers to these words. I played around with a few ideas before trying anagrams. I noticed that pest is an anagram of sept. (Which I initially thought related to September and hence 9, but is also French for 7). Running with this idea, we also note that unfixed is an anagram for dixneuf, and riots is an anagram for trois. So our equation becomes: $ 7 + \sqrt{19  3} = 7 + \sqrt{16} = 7 + 4 = 11$ Therefore our answer is onze. Since the other words were anagrams this is probably an anagram as well. Therefore I think the solution is zone. On to the next question. 3. Samuel says: if agony is the opposite of denial, and witty is the opposite of tepid, then what is the opposite of smart? Samuel says is a strange way to start this question. normally you'd say 'simon says', is this a hint? Who is Samuel? The first thing that comes to my mind is Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist. I wonder if he has any famous quotes that shed light on the question. A quick google doesn't reveal anything. Perhaps this is a different Samuel? Looking up other famous Samuels leads us to another clue  Samuel Morse. Once we know that we are talking about morse code, the obvious next step is to convert the words we've been given into morse code. We find that: Agony = ...  . ..  Denial = .. . . .. . ... Witty = . ..   . Tepid =  . .. .. .. Smart = ...  . ..  Now we can hopefully see how this works  we replace the dots for dashes. Therefore our new word is: ..... This word doesn't have the spaces in it. After some experimentation we conclude that the word that is the opposite of smart is often. 4. The answers to the following cryptic crossword clues are all words of the same length. We have provided the first four clues only. What is the seventh and last answer?
The next question is a series of cryptic crosswords  which is a bit of an issue since I've never done a cryptic crossword before. We've therefore got two options  learn how to solve cryptic crosswords, or find another way to progress. I attempted to learn how to do cryptic crosswords but I really struggled to solve the crosswords here, though I do now know how to solve cryptic crosswords and can solve a few questions in a newspaper. Therefore we need to find another way to solve this puzzle. The website provides us with a way to check that our answers are correct. We can input our answers into the boxes provided and click the 'check answer' button and the website will tell us if we have the correct solutions. Hmm.. wonder how this words. When we view page source and look at the code we see that there is actually a check function. For a given string of letters this function returns two unique numbers. The website takes our answers, calculates the unique numbers associated with it, and checks if the numbers generated are equal to 608334672 and 46009587. So it's simple right? We just work out the string generates these two numbers and this will give us the answer. The problem with this is that the function that generates these numbers is something called a cryptographic hash function. Which is a function which for any input will return a result of a fixed length which is practically impossible to invert. We have some extra information that help us though  we know the format of the answer, and we know the answers to three out of the four questions. So we know the input to the hash function is of the form: "cubzoneoften" + new word I therefore set up a dictionary attack in the following file:
This file works by letting you open a .txt file containing a list of words. The code will then loop through the words in the text file, calculating the results of the hash function. After running this file we find out that the word we are looking for is layered. And the url of the next stage of the challange is:

AuthorI work as an actuary and underwriter at a global reinsurer in London. Categories
All
Archives
September 2023

Leave a Reply.