Bath Chapter - Cryptohunt

On Thursday 22nd February 2018 the Bath Chapter held its first cryptohunt across the University of Bath Campus. The chapter welcomed six teams to compete in cryptography themed puzzles over the course of two hours. Below is their write up of the event...

Bath Chapter - Cryptohunt (1)

‘The Bath Chapter hid six flyers across campus each with a decryption key, a cipher text and a letter written in Morse code. Attendees were split into groups of four and each given a piece of cipher text and the decryption key, using a help sheet with five cryptography methods and this information they had to find the initial location. The teams had a slow start as the type of cipher was not disclosed and so had to first work out the method used to encrypt the information from the five options; Caesar shift, Vigenère cipher, rail road, frequency analysis and One-Time pad.

Once teams had worked out their first location they were off, with locations hidden all over campus many teams were able to keep warm running from location to location. Each location held the decryption key for the next location and the cipher text detailing the next flyers location. Committee members of the Bath Chapter were stationed at the starting point of the hunt in case assistance was required.  Many teams came back to the station to ask for hints, work out the answers in the warmth and get some much-needed refreshments.

Bath Chapter - Cryptohunt (2)

The next hour and a half was a whir of team work, learning about old fashioned cryptography and shouts of, ‘I’ve got it’ followed by running to the next location. The last five minutes of the hunt was tense as half of two teams returned to the base saying they had solved the challenge. There were no winners however until the full team had arrived and so frantic phone calls and messages were made to get the whole team to the base. The two teams arrived within minutes of each other. The first team back, a group of first year students, won £20 Amazon vouchers while the second group back, a group of second years, won a box of celebrations each.

Following the winners return all attendees were contacted and given much needed drinks and cake to celebrate their participation and a fun afternoon. Attendees discussed the ciphers and methods used and the history of the methods which also featured on the help sheets.

The attendees all commented on how enjoyable the event was and asked when the next one would be. The committee are proud of the success of the event and the involvement of its members. Groups were competitive yet showed good team work while learning about an area of Computer Science not taught to early years at the University of Bath. We would recommend this event to any chapter or group due to its accessibility to all members no matter their level of Computer Science knowledge.’

Bath Chapter - Cryptohunt (3)

The Bath Chapter thanked BCS for their support in sponsoring this event.