Conspiracies, curiousness, secret, the darknet- suspicious yet? Ofcourse you may be! People love mystery more than anything, especially one with a hint of the secret code. That’s why there’s so much hype about the Cicada 3301: Deep web scavenger hunt.
On 4th January 2012, the trickiest puzzle on the Internet was born named “Cicada 3301.” It is supposed to be the most “elaborated & mysterious puzzle of the internet.” Cicada 3301 “provokes people to search a hidden message as part of a search for “Intelligent individuals.” The users who did well were then led through a series of web-based challenges, closing in on a prize.
The term Cicada 3301 is given to a secret organization that has thrice released sets of puzzles to engage quicker and more intelligent code breakers across the globe. This puzzle was first posted on the sites such as Reddit and 4chan. Now let’s find out the History of this treasure hunt and the purpose of Cicada 3301.
What’s the Purpose of Cicada 3301?
Cicada 3301 is the name given to the three sets of the puzzle under the name “3301” online between 2012 & 2014. It is supposed that the outcome of solving the hunt would lead the people to know who these people are. When the participants crack one puzzle, they are given another more tricky one. To crack the secret, users are expected to deeply understand encryption, coding, cryptography, Steganography, etc.
However, it is a vast secret to know who these people are, who made this puzzle, and the purpose behind wanting bright & smart individuals in a team. Some people claim that it is a mystery society, while others say that Cicada 3301 is a religion. As per the statements of individuals who won the 2012 puzzle, 3301 typically uses non-puzzle-based recruit ways but aimed to make the Cicada puzzles because they were looking for intelligent members with computer security skills and cryptography. But still, the facts are unknown.
History of Cicada 3301: Deep Web Scavenger Hunt
In 2012, Cicada’s first message popup on Reddit & 4chan “Hello, We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you to find us. We look forward to meeting the few who will make it through. Good luck.” So it was signed as 3301. Let’s move to know what happened when the puzzle comes out.
First Puzzle (2012): Ducks & Ceaser
The secret popup increases the interest of nerdy skilled IT students and cryptographers. However, the first puzzle was pretty easier. It was related to digital Steganography, by opening the picture in notepad generates a meaningless text with “Tiberius Claudius Caesar” being the only text. So the bright users instantly realized the reference to an encryption technique named after Julius Caesar, who used it in private posts bit of decoding and other web address was covered in the image’s code.
This puzzle went out to become the greatest internet enduring puzzle; a scavenger hunt has led thousands of participants across the web. Hence, the encryption method jumped up a gear; user’s across the globe were pooling hints, solutions, and resources on online forums. Once the timer reached zero, it showed 14 GPS coordinates worldwide. People left their homes to investigate and reported what they found; QR codes, posters, lamp posts, or the cicada image; when the QR code has decoded, a message directed the solvers toward a TOR address.
After a selected number of solvers visited the hidden address, the site closed with a short message:
“We want the best, not the followers. The chosen few received personal emails a few weeks later, and a new message from Cicada was posted on Reddit. It read: “Hello. We have now found the individuals we sought. Thus our month-long journey ends. For now.”
Return of Cicada: 2013-2014
The wait was over for the solver; the second puzzle was released on 5th January 2013. Cryptographic forums hurried to life again and started buzzing. It sent amateur detectives back to the drawing board to check earlier abandoned leads in the hope of solving the secret puzzle and claiming the unheard reward. Hence, the recurring pattern of hints was observed.
However, 2014 comes with another puzzle, this time with a splitting conclusion. Solvers were told to make a server to which 3301 could send a file. Some got an uncustomized recruitment letter similar to those from earlier years- but never any follow-up. Other participants get a link to a deep web that would ultimately have the now-infamous Primus runes.
Method, Clues to Solve Puzzles
However, resolving the puzzle mystery has, till now, needed a host of skills, from Steganography to cryptography to the knowledge of ancient Mayan numerology and an understanding of cyberpunk speculative fiction. As the puzzles themselves transform in multiple directions, characters, reverse, and prime numbers.
The answers are not just in the digital domain but in real-country: from clues left on the voicemail of Texas phone numbers to flayers taped to phone poles in around 14 cities worldwide. Hence, the quest mystery puzzle leads to the digital world’s deepest layers, The Dark Web.
Where did Cicada 3301 Puzzle Come?
A disclosed email from Cicada states, “we are a group of people who have verified ourselves, much like you have, by finishing this mystery puzzle, and we are drawn together by common beliefs. A cautious reading of the texts used in the contest would have revealed some of these beliefs, that oppression of any type must end, censorship is not right, and privacy is an absolute right.
According to a participant who solved the 2012 puzzle was asked questions about online privacy, freedom, rejection of censorship, and support. Those who replied confidently at this stage were invited to a private forum, where they were guided to devise and finish a project.
However, there has been huge gossip about who are the people behind the secret organization names Cicada 3301. Most people assume that they may be a Government intelligence agency such as the CIA, NASA, and M16 that may be trying to engage talented IT cryptanalysts. Hence, it’s maybe an underground association, not related to any government or intelligence agency.
I don’t think that Cicada would disclose anything about themselves. They just reveal the purpose and what they want from you as a part of the group. And then use unknown means of communication to keep their identity hidden. However, no new quest has been made since then.
The deep web scavenger hunt made a global experience intriguing hackers and code breakers worldwide. Whoever is behind this mystery wants to choose minds of high intelligence. Hence, there has been a long since no puzzle was released, and people are still unsure about Cicada 3301. Who they are, where they belong, and the actual purpose behind their mystery puzzles. If you are searching for a mystery puzzle, try your hand at the Cicada 3301. It’s still a secret to many, but who knows? Maybe your mind is the one who solves the query.