Puzzle #3 Encoding Solution

Mrs. G
Mrs. G
Nov 22 · 3 min read

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Puzzle #3 had several encoding challenges with the hint “What about some online tools?” When solving this type of challenge it helps to understand a few things about encoding.

  • Encoding Definition: the transformation of data from one form to another. For example, converting from text to binary is a form of encoding. Another example is Morse Code which was created to take text and transmit it across telegraph wires.
  • Encoding and encryption are often confused. Encryption is the transformation of data from one form to another so that only the intended recipient can understand it. The real difference between the two is that encryption requires a key. Encoding doesn’t need a key and the objective isn’t to safeguard a secret.
  • One of the most common types of character encoding is ASCII, which stands for ‘American Standard Code for Information Interchange’. It is simply a table that maps characters to decimal, binary, octal or hexadecimal.
  • To make encoded data readable, you must recognize the type of encoding and apply the right technique or tool to convert it into readable text.

There are many online tools to convert from one type of encoding to another. Team PHS Girls Can Code, our Guest Puzzlers, shared their favorite, the Conversion tool at RapidTables.com

Solutions to Puzzle#3 Encoding challenges:

Encoding type: Binary — uses characters 0 and 1. Base 2 number system
Solution: flag{0n1in3_t001s_ar3_v3ry_u53fu1}

Encoding type: Hexadecimal — uses characters are 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, A,B,C,D,E,F. Base 16 number system
66 6c 40 67 7b 48 65 78 20 69 73 20 30 2d 39 20 70 6c 75 73 20 41 2d 46 7d
Solution: fl@g{Hex is 0–9 plus A-F}

Encoding type: Decimal — uses characters 0–9. Base 10 number system
83 111 109 101 32 99 104 97 108 108 101 110 103 101 32 115 111 108 117 116 105 111 110 115 32 100 111 110 39 116 32 117 115 101 32 34 102 108 97 103 34
Solution: Some challenges don’t use “flag”

Encoding type: Base64 — there are several versions of Base64, the most popular uses these characters: A-Z a-z 0–9 + / . OFTEN (but not always) appends = or == to the end of the encoding
Solution: Encoding doesn’t keep secrets

Why do we use encoding in computing? To support a digital process such as mapping binary (which computers understand) to characters (which humans understand). Another example is the use of hexadecimal numbers to represent colors for web browsers.

Encoding can also be used for obfuscation which is the hiding of intended meaning, making communication confusing, willfully ambiguous and hard to interpret. Example: a hacker could steal private data by encoding text into Base64 before transferring it. This would obfuscate what data is being moved, making it difficult for a filter or firewall to detect the breach.

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Encouraging girls across the US to become the next leaders in cybersecurity and help protect the web. Registration is now open!

Mrs. G

Written by

Mrs. G

Mandy Galante — formerly a high school cybersecurity teacher and coach, now working with GGCS to help young people discover their cybersecurity talent.

Girls Go CyberStart

Encouraging girls across the US to become the next leaders in cybersecurity and help protect the web. Registration is now open!

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