Rot-13 and Google

You know one of the things that really gets my feathers all ruffled is people only giving half of the story. For example take this line from google’s latest blog entry

The answers are in an old computer-geek code called ROT-13.

Umm … sorry you left out the really interesting stuff that came thousands of years before Usenet and computer geeks! Rot-13 is based on the Caesar Cipher, a replacement based encryption method used in ancient Rome. Basically it works like this, they would take a message and then rotate the characters 13 letters forward (A becomes M, B becomes N, etc). While it’s a very simple encryption method the text looks like gibberish to anybody who reads it. To transmit the message they took a slave, shaved his head, and tattooed the message on his scalp. Once enough of his hair grew in to cover the message, they sent the slave and message on it’s way. When the message arrived at it’s destination, if the slave didn’t have a full head of hair, they knew the message was intercepted and possibly compromised. If he did have hair, they decapitated him shaved his head and unrotated the message.

Wikipedia – Rot13
Wikipedia – Caesar cipher – Cryptography

Sheesh I only graduated high school and I knew that! So hey all you fancy-schmancy software engineers with impressive looking PHD’s what’s your excuse?

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