USCYBERCOM secret revealed

July 8th, 2010
USCYBERCOM logo.  Click to enlarge.

The secret message embedded in the USCYBERCOM logo


is what the md5sum function returns when applied to the string that is USCYBERCOM’s official mission statement. Here’s a demonstration of this fact done on a Mac. On linux, use the md5sum command instead of md5.

~> echo -n "USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, \
synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the \
operations and defense of specified Department of \
Defense information networks and; prepare to, and when \
directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace \
operations in order to enable actions in all domains, \
ensure US/Allied \ freedom of action in cyberspace and \
deny the same to our adversaries." | md5

md5sum is a standard Unix command that computes a 128 bit “fingerprint” of a string of any length. It is a well designed hashing function that has the property that its very unlikely that any two non-identical strings in the real world will have the same md5sum value. Such functions have many uses in cryptography.

Thanks to Ian Soboroff for spotting the answer on Slashdot and forwarding it.

Someone familiar with md5 would recognize that the secret string has the same length and character mix as an md5 value — 32 hexadecimal characters. Each of the possible hex characters (0123456789abcdef) represents four bits, so 32 of them is a way to represent 128 bits.

We’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to compute the 128 bit sequence that our secret code corresponds to.