Cicada 3301 Super Puzzle – Internet’s Biggest Mystery

Cicada 3301 Super Puzzle – Internet’s Biggest Mystery

In 2012, the so-called hardest puzzle on the
Internet was born: Cicada 3301. It was posted on 4Chan and this was the beginning
of the message, “Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test.” They said that if you could complete this
test you would have more chance of finding out who they were. They signed off, “3301”. What was actually presented was a series of
puzzles with each one getting a bit harder. To pass them you had to know something about
coding, or cryptography, or just have general smarts when it comes to wordplay and references. Who was doing this? A cult? The government? Was this the work of the dark arts? Was it dangerous? Will we ever find out who was behind it? Keep watching for the answers. Ok, so first we need to know a bit more about
the puzzles. We won’t pretend that here at the Infographics
Show we are master puzzle breakers, so we’ll just cheat and look at some puzzles and the
solutions. We should say it took some people a long time
to figure those solutions out. The puzzles were undoubtedly put together
by very intelligent individuals and we know that simply because to create what was called
the “the most baffling and enigmatic mystery on the Internet” you had to be smart. We are looking for people who no doubt already
hold high positions and likely work in IT and Internet security. There are also rumors that an organization
such as the NSA or MI6 could be doing it as a recruitment strategy, or that some cyber-cult
was just messing with people’s heads. So, in that original image and message when
the 3301 guys invited people to play, there was a hidden clue. You had to download that image and then you
would see some lines of code, and in that code you would have read, “TIBERIVS CLAVDIVS
CAESAR say lxxt>33m2mqkyv2gsq3q=w]O2ntk.” What does that mean? Not much to most of you, but it’s a cipher,
which is a way to say something using disguised language or symbols. Gangsters sometimes use cyphers when they
pass notes in prison. A man named the Zodiac used cyphers to communicate
with police and lead them on a chase. You get the picture. You could have worked out how this cypher
worked or you might have used the Internet to find the way to decode it, but if you were
successful you would have ended up with this image
If you read that you might see a clue that tells you a certain stenography program needs
to be implemented with this image. Stenography by the way is like shorthand,
you know, like when journalists used to take notes fast and they had to shorten the words
and sentences. Some people ran that image through a stenography
program and they were taken to a place with more puzzles with images or sets of numbers. This is what we mean by the rabbit hole, it
just kept getting deeper and deeper. There were more images and more hidden messages
and this seemed endless to those taking part. They might have found some text that read:
“The key has always been right in front of your eyes. This isn’t the quest for the Holy Grail. Stop making it more difficult than it is.” It seems the people behind the puzzle were
really enjoying their game. There was text from some of the earliest known
written fictional stories, such as the tales of King Arthur. At one point a person could have found a phone
number and had to call that. There was of course a message awaiting them. The accent was north American, but that doesn’t
mean the sender was American. This is what he said, “Very good. You have done well. There are three prime numbers associated with
the original final.jpg image. 3301 is one of them. You will have to find the other two. Multiply all three of these numbers together
and add a .com to find the next step. Good luck. Goodbye.” Later the problem solvers came up against
something even stranger, and that was a bunch of coordinates from all over the world. What did this mean? Well, if you followed one of those coordinates
you might have found yourself in Poland, South Korea, the west coast of the USA or in Australia
or Hawaii. At the spot you’d find a poster with a print
of a cicada on it and also a QR-code. There were more clues in that code. What did this mean? It meant that these guys were a big team and
could put up posters in locations all over the world. This wasn’t some solitary outfit working
in a dark London basement or a New York penthouse loft. It was about this time people started thinking,
who the hell are we playing with? These guys are serious. They are global. The fact the people at cicada kept using strange
references just made this whole thing more mysterious and perhaps frightening. At one point they referenced something called,
“Agrippa (A Book of the Dead).” The words and images in this book were printed
with photosensitive chemicals so with time they’d disappear. There is also a poem stored on a floppy disk,
but it’s single use, meaning after use it becomes encrypted and you won’t be able
to see it unless you can crack the encryption. Sometimes people had to go to the dark web
to get more information, and in every case the person had to know a fair bit about encryption
and code breaking to get farther. There was even a musical cryptogram. It sounded like this and contained a hidden
message. Sometimes when a person solved a puzzle they
would be taken to a page, but if they arrived there too slow they might have read a message
that said leaders were wanted and not followers, and the game was over for them. Only a select few could win, and those folks
were promised the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or at least a big reveal. So, what happened if you got that far? Well, cicada 3301 posted a message on Reddit
when the first game was over and stated that they now had the intelligent individuals they
were looking for. “There will be no more opportunities like
this one,” read the message, which signed off with a P.S. This was again a bunch of numbers that needed
unscrambling. Then a year later another puzzle ended up
on 4Chan and again people were sent on puzzle trails and only the fastest and best passed. Some folks had actually been waiting for another
opportunity, having failed the first time. Some of those people believed that a great
job or something wonderful and mysterious waited for them where the rabbit hole ended. They will have read this message at one point
in the puzzle, “Hello. Epiphany is upon you. Your pilgrimage has begun. Enlightenment awaits.” Sounds cool, eh, but many people failed to
finish their pilgrimage and become enlightened. The digital Holy Grail was hard to find, worthy
of Arthurian legend. It wasn’t always about cracking code, either,
you had to be well-read. An example to back that up is a reference
they used to the 19th century American transcendentalist writer named Ralph Waldo Emerson. They might have cracked so many techno-puzzles,
but then if the nerds on the net hadn’t also read some philosophy then failure likely
awaited them. To win you had to be an all-rounder. The third and last set of puzzles was in 2017
and then cicada 3301 just vanished from the Internet. But what happened to the winners, the guys
that did find the grail? What happened to the Internet’s Sir Galahad? There is one reliable source as to proof of
Cicada 3301 correspondence and that comes from a person who allegedly finished one of
the puzzles. He leaked an email that was sent to him by
members of Cicada 3301. Many people think the email is genuine. Here it is:
“You have all wondered who we are, and so we shall now tell you. We are an international group. We have no name. We have no symbol. We have no membership rosters. We do not have a public website and we do
not advertise ourselves. We are a group of individuals who have proven
ourselves, much like you have, by completing this recruitment contest, and we are drawn
together by common beliefs. A careful reading of the texts used in the
contest would have revealed some of these beliefs: that tyranny and oppression of any
kind must end, that censorship is wrong and that privacy is an inalienable right.” So, to join the club you have to win the game
and then the only rule of Cicada 3301 club is you don’t talk about Cicada 3301 club. The email makes it sound like a secret organization
that is filled with intelligent individuals who likely did ok in their latest IQ test. They obviously advocate freedom of speech
and internet privacy, so if those guys were working for the NSA then they would be hypocrites,
since the U.S. government has spied on its own people. This message sounds slightly antagonistic
and anarchistic, and not related to the mechanisms of the establishment. It’s is probably a bunch of friends rather
than an official organization, but they are good at keeping secrets and they are spread
around. So far physical stuff used by the group has
been found in 11 U.S. states and eight countries. It’s likely they are from the USA, but they
reference British stuff a lot, too. We found one guy who finished the puzzle and
he is a Swede named Joel Eriksson. On his website he calls himself a “IT-security
freak.” In an interview with Fast Company, he said,
“Initially, I just thought it would be a nice little brainteaser. I’ve always been interested in anything
that can challenge me, and I never give up. In the case of Cicada, the puzzle in question
turned out to be a lot more than I thought it would be when I started it.” Yep, that rabbit hole was a bit deeper than
he was expecting. He also said that he did all the solutions
by himself, but others collaborated and it was kind of cheating. They could get past a puzzle and find the
next one without actually having solved it. Eriksson got right to the end, but what happened
then? He said he didn’t think it was a recruitment
tool and he certainly hasn’t been recruited by anyone. The governments of the world just wouldn’t
sneak around on 4Chan. When the British Government Communications
Headquarters put out a puzzle to crack when they were recruiting, they didn’t hide. Eriksson believes the group is not an organization
or a business. He went on, saying that these guys are not
just coders and they have certainly read some far out stuff. That might be the British man named William
Blake, an 18th/19th visionary poet and artist who later was a staple in western counter-culture
movements. The CIA and William Blake just don’t go
together very well. The NSA and the “doors of perception”
don’t exactly go hand in hand. Cicada also mentions the English occultist
Aleister Crowley, another far out writer that became associated with counter-culture movements
from the hippy 60s to the cyber-punk movement of today. Eriksson said in the interview, “They are
likely intellectual, anti-establishment, ideologically driven and they seem to be valuing logical/analytical
thinking highly. They seem to share a lot of ideology with
the crypto-anarchy movement, and old-school hackers.” But he didn’t get any prize for winning,
except the fact he can now call himself one of them. Who knows, he might be the movement. We doubt that, though. We can tell you that we found no one online
who claims to know who Cicada 3301 is or who says they collected the grand prize. They are out there, somewhere, tapping away
in the digital forests of the night. They might even be watching this video. Many people think Cicada will pop up again. The path they created might have led to nowhere,
but they certainly created a fascinating trail. You might say the final puzzle is to figure
out who the group is, and that remains unsolved. By the way, we just planted two references
in that last bit of dialogue. We wonder if you can guess what those references
were? If you can’t do that, don’t even think
about trying to solve Cicada’s own puzzles. Once you’ve figured that out we think you
should watch some of our other videos that feature puzzles that have never been solved. One of those is “The Sinking of USS Indianapolis
– What Happened to the Men on Board?” and the other is “Why The Zodiac Killer Was
Never Found.” And if you enjoyed this video don’t forget
to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!

45 thoughts on “Cicada 3301 Super Puzzle – Internet’s Biggest Mystery

  1. What if the people who passed the test were killed because if they werent, things would have been revealed by now and that leaked email seemed a bit shabby to be real

  2. I could tell you the name of one of the main members (who's well known & a slime bucket) from the group that created the original cicada puzzles. I could also tell you the name of the group who highjacked the 4chan page and took cicada3301 over when the puzzles seemed to return. This info is not well hidden or hidden at for that matter. it's very well known as a matter of fact!!

    PS shout out to Defango!!!

  3. So?…the reference is BIRD-FACE BELLY-STICKS…. Is that right? ..di…did I get it? Am I in? ………………..I'm gonna assume I'm in the club since they can't talk about it…ok cicada (wink) (wink)….read ya loud and clear!

  4. 2:06 That's not Stenography, It's STEGANOGRAPHY . OutGuess is a Steganographic software. Steganography is the process of hiding information inside another file or image or video. You got it wrong @TheInfographicsShow

  5. "The key is right at your eyes"

    Me: Hmmm…





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