The Kryptos Sculpture: “The Code the CIA / NSA Can’t Crack”

“The first code breaker, a CIA employee named David Stein, spent 400 hours working by hand on his own time. Stein, who described the emergence of the first passage as a religious experience, revealed his partial solution to a packed auditorium at Langley in February 1998. But not a word was leaked to the press. Sixteen months later, Jim Gillogly, an LA-area cryptanalyst used a Pentium II computer and some custom software to crack the same three sections. When news of Gillogly’s success broke, the CIA publicized Stein’s earlier crack.”

ANONYMOUS  — September 18 2017

KRYPTOS is a sculpture by the American artist Jim Sanborn located on the grounds of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia. Since its dedication on November 3, 1990, there has been much speculation about the meaning of the four encrypted messages it bears. Of the four messages, the first three have been solved, while the fourth message remains as one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world. The sculpture continues to be of interest to cryptanalysts, both amateur and professional, who are attempting to decipher the fourth passage. The artist has so far given two clues to this passage.

ANONYMOUS just published a fun piece about the KRYPTOS sculpture. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Sculpture — An Introduction

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Code — How to Break a Vigenère Code

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Code — The Solution of Section II

RELATED POST : The KRYPTOS Sculpture — History of the NSA Involvement

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Sculpture — SECTION I : A KEYED Vigenère Cipher [And why the CIA lies so much about it?] — UPDATE

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Sculpture — SECTION III: A Transposition Cipher

RELATED POST: The KRYPTOS Sculpture — SECTION IV: A few clues

RELATED PIECE: The KRYPTOS Sculpture: NSA Solution for Section III


The ciphertext on the left-hand side of the sculpture (as seen from the courtyard) of the main sculpture contains 869 characters in total (865 letters and 4 question marks).

The right-hand side of the sculpture comprises a keyed Vigenère encryption tableau, consisting of 867 letters.


The piece reads:

Jim Sanbor, an elite connected sculptor created this coded monument for the CIA headquarters. It is a 9 foot, 11 inch high main sculpture, a wave of copper with letters cut out like a matrix. It is anchored by an 11 foot column of petrified wood, with gigantic pieces of granite below a low fountain. It is enjoyed by CIA analysts and spies when they eat outside.

Sanborn’s father was head of exhibitions at the Library of Congress. He has created sculptoral works for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, another majorly elite connected institution. Themes in his sculptures involve “making the invisible visible,” with works that focus on secret messages, atomic reactions, magnetism, and other topics.

He made a work titled “Critical Assembly,” modeled after the first atomic bomb and Manhattan Project experiments: the celebration of this horrific project is a thing that feels characteristic of occult connected, elite people.

His CIA headquarters monument is meant to be a “challenge” for the CIA to decode. The CIA and associated agencies have taken up the innocuous sounding challenge, creating headlines about it. 3 out of 4 messages on the monument have been deciphered, but there are surely deeper layers of meaning to the deciphered words.



Kryptos: The Code the CIA / NSA Can’t Crack — Anonymous

Kryptos — Wikipedia

Stein, David D. (1999). “The Puzzle at CIA Headquarters: Cracking the Courtyard Crypto” (pdf). Studies in Intelligence. 43 (1).

The puzzle at CIA headquarters. Cracking the courtyard crypto — CIA Website

Vigenère cipher — Wikipedia


The Kryptos Sculpture: The Code the CIA / NSA Can’t Crack

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