A good spy has to be able to communicate with others without your opposition being able to understand what the message says. In The Plotting Shed Sam Trowel is a twelve-year-old SPY (Special Patrol Youth) who’s learning on the job, stumbling occasionally, experimenting with poorly executed disguises, and uncovering devious criminal schemes.
Codes are normally made up of words which are converted into something else. The main idea behind using one is to write a message that can only be read by a selected few, and a key is normally required to decipher the meaning. Cryptology is the study of codes and the art of writing and solving them. They can be made using numbers, letters, pictures and/or symbols. Encoded messages are then referred to as codetext and can be recorded in a codebook, which is a dictionary with corresponding text ie. plaintext.
Codes are used for many different reasons, some of these are:
- Government agencies and the military convey their plans and observations among their agents and spies, in a code that may only be known to the writers and the recipients.
- Websites use them in order to keep confidential information, eg. bank account details safe.
- Probably the least expected and most frequently used reason is for regular people to send messages between family and friends.
This is a code that is used to convey a single message and is normally interjected into a regular conversation, for those that are expecting it to pick up. During WWII BBC broadcasters overseas included messages in their programmes. Each code was repeated twice and Special Operations Executives got many of their orders from these. The French Resistance was instructed to sabotage transport the night before D-day, via a one-time code on one of these radio broadcasts.
This is a code which has been made up by those who are using it. The military employs many idiot codes during their drills. One of the most devastating terrorist strikes in modern history, the 9/11 attacks that took place in 2011, were orchestrated by idiot codes via emails.
This code has been used to convey more messages than any other during its long history, and was invented by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail. It is made up of a series of short and long tones (dots and dashes) that represent letters and numbers. The universal emergency symbol SOS, is known by a high majority of the population and consists of 3 dots, 3 dashes, and the 3 more dots (…- – -…).
Backwards Alphabet Code
An easy code to use with your friends, the backwards alphabet code can be found listing first the letters of the alphabet in their regular order, and then listing them going backwards beside the first set. The letter that is beside the original one will be substituted in any outgoing message. A=Z, B=Y and so on. As a result of how easy it is to use this code, keep in mind that it will also be just as easy to reveal.
Cryptologists both invent and decode messages. One of the first things they look for is the frequency of easy symbol, in order to start decoding. E is used the most in the English language, and many codes eliminate vowels altogether to make them harder to decipher.