Secret message in the Canadian Governor General coat of arms?

October 4th, 2010

Personal coat of arms of David Johnson, Governor General of CanadaSlashdot highlights another mystery today — what’s the meaning of the binary sequence along the bottom of the personal coat of arms of David Johnston, Canada’s new Governor-General.

“As de facto head of state and the Queen’s representative in Canada he is required to design a personal coat of arms. One modern detail has attracted particular attention – a 33-digit palindromic binary stream at the base. Efforts to decode the meaning of the number using ASCII, Morse, grouping by 3/11 and other theories has so far come up empty (right now it’s a toss up between random, the phone number 683-077-0643 and Morse code for ‘send help – trapped in a coat of arms factory.’) Is 110010111001001010100100111010011 the combination to his luggage, or just a random stream of digits?”

Here’s a theory that I hope might be true. As an educator and former president of a university known for its strength in computer science, maybe he is trying to interest Canadian children in mathematics and computer science by giving them a an intriguing puzzle to work on.

Stuxnet questions and answers from F-Secure

October 1st, 2010

If you are interested in the Stuxnet worm, take a look at this blog post from F-secure Labs, Stuxnet Questions and Answers. It’s relatively free of over ventilation and speculation. F-secure is a Finnish company specializing in anti-virus and computer security software. Here’s an intriguing example from the post that does speculate a bit.

Q: How does Stuxnet know it has already infected a machine?
A: It sets a Registry key with a value “19790509” as an infection marker.

Q: What’s the significance of “19790509”?
A: It’s a date. 9th of May, 1979.

Q: What happened on 9th of May, 1979?
A: Maybe it’s the birthday of the author? Then again, on that date a Jewish-Iranian businessman called Habib Elghanian was executed in Iran. He was accused to be spying for Israel.

Hat tip HN.

update: Another good resource is SYmantec’s W32.Stuxnet Dossier.

“While the bulk of analysis is complete, Stuxnet is an incredibly large and complex threat. The authors expect to make revisions to this document shortly after release as new information is uncovered or may be publicly disclosed. This paper is the work of numerous individuals on the Symantec Security Response team over the last three months well beyond the cited authors. Without their assistance, this paper would not be possible.”