Secret codes have baffled and mystified people throughout human history. Ever since people first began to write down their thoughts on paper, they have used a variety of encryption techniques to disguise exactly what they were saying. The evolution of codes and ciphers is something that was necessary to keep important information hidden from people who didn’t need to know the contents of a message or document. Such methods have been used to transmit secret communications or pass on vital information to allies for centuries, with the need growing even more during times of war.
Today, the use of encryption is very much a part of our lives. Almost all of our electronic correspondence over the internet goes through some kind of security measure designed to stop people spying on what you are saying. Meanwhile, government departments such as the NSA, GCHQ and FSB all try to crack the codes that keep that information safe so they can gather intelligence and carry out their work. As methods of keeping data hidden have evolved from simple substitution ciphers to complex algorithms designed by supercomputers, it is becoming ever more difficult to crack the best examples. However, it is not just modern codes that have proved impossible to solve. Many versions from the past have proved too much of a puzzle for even the best cryptographers, ensuring that their secrets are kept locked away for decades or even centuries.
10 Voynich Manuscript
9 Chinese Gold Bar Cipher
7 Zodiac Killer Cryptograms
6 Beale Ciphers
5 D'Agapeyeff Cipher
4 Dorabella Cipher
2 The Phaistos Disk
1 Somerton Man Codes
The Somerton Man, sometimes known as the Taman Shud Case, was an incident that eventually revealed a secret code that no one has been able to crack. An unidentified man was found on a beach in Southern Australian in 1948 along with a scrap of paper that turned out to belong to a book. When the book was later found it contained phone numbers and a cipher that has still not been solved, shrouding the entire affair in mystery.
Sources: bbc.co.uk, wired.com, news.discovery.com, gizmodo.com
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