Cicada 3301 An Anonymous Group Recruit Individual By Cryptic Puzzles
In January 2012, Cicada 3301 first became known to the public by posting an interesting message and a photo of a duck on 4Chan. The message read:
It ended with a signature that we all would remember as time went by 3301.
Solving this message led to more puzzles to complete. As they became more and more difficult, only a few would move ahead in the race to be enrolled or get close to figuring out what Cicada 3301 really is Soon, other individuals posted on Reddit and in other chat rooms, anything to communicate and share thoughts on what was really going on here.
Lots Of Puzzles
One of Cicada 3301 grandest puzzles could easily have been the QR codes plastered (pasted) all over the world on stop signs, bus stops, and more. These places included Haleiwa, Hawaii, and Paris, France.
According to conspiracy happen in Hawai, Paris, France and Haleiwa was definitely a proof that someone or some group could be behind this. But people also would have team up to solve the puzzles and interacting with other people from other location.
Eventually, after the QR code scavenger hunt, those who were very fast would led to a site that would disappear after some time. Those who were not as fast receive a message that would tell the “followers” that Cicada 3301 “wanted the best, not the followers” That was the end of Cicada puzzles for that year.
Cicada 3301 has left clues to its mysteries in the following locations:
1. Annapolis, Maryland, US
2. Chino, California, US
3. Columbus, Georgia, US
4. Dallas, Texas, US
5. Erskineville, Australia
6. Fayetteville, Arkansas, US
7. Flushing, New York, US
8. Granada, Spain
9. Greenville, Texas, US
10. Haleiwa, Hawaii, US
11. Little Rock, Arkansas, US
12. Los Angeles, California, US
13. Miami, Florida, US
14. Moscow, Russia
15. New Orleans, Louisiana, US
16. Okinawa, Japan
17. Paris, France
18. Portland, Oregon, US
19. Seattle, Washington, US
20. Lincoln, Nebraska, US
21. Seoul, South Korea
22. Warsaw, Poland
23. Mexico City, Mexico
24. Sydney, Australia
Classic texts referenced in the string of Cicada 3301 clues include:
6. M. C. Escher
9. Zen Kōans
12. The Mabinogion, a series of pre-Christian Welsh manuscripts
13. Mayan Numerology
Cicada 3301 became a tradition, each year came back with new puzzles and new level of difficulty. Most of the puzzles had patterns, usually contain code. But the interesting ones did not have code. Instead, they related to books and quotes.
As an example, Ralph Waldo Emerson essay “Self-Reliance” was an answer to one of Cicada’s puzzle. Another answer was in William Blake book “The Marriage of Heaven“ and Hell which contains the quote “for everything that lives is holy.”
These two references tell about what this anonymous group believes in. They appeared to be looking for people with similar views.
Where Did They Go?
When the puzzles were finally solved, Cicada announced that they found what they were looking for and disappear. But where did they go?
No one know’s why they leave and come afterwards.They never ever seem to give more news other than additional puzzles and small hints every now and then. Those who solved or complete the earlier puzzles were either dropped completely and left in confusion or actually picked up for recruitment. A teenager named Marcus is an example who was recruited by this anonymous group.
Marcus spent most of his time trying to solved these mysterious puzzles. After he passed the test, he was recruited and put into a dark web chat room with others who had successfully decode the clues. Marcus ended up working on projects for Cicada with his concentration, although no one seemed to understand exact mission of this anonymous group was.
Ultimately, his group project was dropped. He has not heard anything since. How odd.
The book helped others to complete puzzles. For Cicada 3301 to make a book completely encrypted for those to discover, and buy truly means that everyone was missing a important picture and that Cicada 3301 trying to lead us in the right direction.
Unhappily, we only know what half of the book means. Some part of this book is very confusing at first glance if you aren’t familiar with Cicada 3301.
First clue was black and white image.The next clue was an image of a wooden duck.The decoded text revealed two images. After running steganography on them, he found strings of digits that was a phone number (214- 390-9608). Calling the phone number led to a voicemail that read:
“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.”
Eriksson then analysed the meta data of the first image, the image shown above. Using its height and width dimensions, he thought that those two can be the next two numbers. After doing the math, he found another URL, 845145127.com, with another image of Cicada with a count down that told when to return to the website.
When the count down was over, the Cicada image was replaced with some strings of digits that display GPS coordinates. The coordinates led to countries around the World including Spain, Russia, America, France, Japan, and Poland.
Here, Eriksson had to depend on other people to find those series of signs. What the locals found was the coordinates were fixed to telephone poles that had posters with images sticking on them. The images had Cicada and a QR codes.
After scanning the QR codes, again Eriksson was led to another two images, that again contained more hidden text. They were text from what Eriksson found on William Gibson poem Agrippa. Noting that the text referenced prime numbers, Eriksson used the book code to find what he should do with the Gibson poem. There he was directed to an address on the anonymous Tor network (an open source privacy network that permits users to browse the web anonymously).
But, by the time he arrived, Cicada 3301 put up a message stating that they were disappointed in the groups of people that had formed to share parts of the puzzles.
The End of the First Puzzle :
In 2012, a month later or more picture on the subreddit changed to the one as shown below
This was the end.
“Mysterious person Cicada 3301“ said that the end of the first quest at least, but it would not be the last time.
According to reports, a good handful of people passed the test. They are still trying to find out what Cicada 3301 is and why they are searching for certain individuals. One of these winners goes by the name of Nox Populi. He was a winner with the 2013 Cicada puzzle and still actively works on the subject. He has a YouTube channel which consists tutorials for those who want to learn about Cicada 3301 or those who are interested in learning the steps they had to take for future puzzles. He is very engaged with the community and even meets fans at conventions to talk about his experiences.
Joel Eriksson was another winner, one of the few who completed the 2012 Cicada puzzle. Like the others, he was bit lost when Cicada left in silence after the completion of the puzzle. Eriksson was a crypto security researcher and developer from Sweden.
Cicada was famous for new puzzles every year, although, they didn’t seem to be anything published in 2015, either. No one knows if Cicada 3301 has a headquarters or how long they have existed. At least one person claimed to be a part of Cicada for more than a decade.
Some people believe that when Cicada disappears, they are preparing process of recruits and new puzzles for a later time of completion. They may also be finishing up their projects they have left in the past. Project CAKES could be an example.
According to Marcus, who had successfully completed the puzzles in 2012, his group had been work jointly on a project named CAKES through a website constructed by Cicada 3301. To all appearances, CAKES was created to protect whistle blowers from retribution (criminal act). But as we all know, the project was dropped.
Cicada brought many different people together to solve its puzzles. They learn together and help each other to complete or solve one cryptic message after another. However, the question remains as, whether someone will decrypt the book in time to get Cicada’s attention.
Many think that Cicada could be a tactic by the Government to recruit some new hackers as this happened before. On the other hand, the puzzles were initially thought to be an advertisement for a video game that was meant to attract people into buying it.
Some even thought that Cicada was affiliated with a group called 3301 which hacked into Planned Parenthood. But 3301 later confirmed they were not connected to Cicada in any way. Cicada has said the same thing.
Others theorise that Cicada could be a secret group like the Illuminati.
The Unknown Puzzle
Cicada 3301 is a puzzles where participants required to know a good deal of technical knowledge, an understanding of number theory, including: philosophy, knowledge of artistic references, classical music, cyber punk literature, mathematics and technological references, Victorian poetry, Mayan numerology, Kabbalah, and the life cycles of Cicadas.
After a month the puzzle was first posted, a new message was posted to the 4chan message board, saying that “We have now found the individuals we sought. Thus our month-long journey ends.”
Nobody knows who was behind this, who is the winner . Some theories said that Cicada 3301 was a recruitment method for a global spy organisations, while some others concluded that the group comprised of military and government officials, diplomats or other world class academics who were seeking out people with intelligent minds from across the globe. Some concluded that it was the work of an underground cult or a network of hackers that were making an alternate reality game. Others have claimed it is run by a bank working on crypto currency and a Masonic (better man out of good man) conspiracy.
Some theorise said that Cicada 3301 is large and well-funded, also has knowledge to create such complex puzzles and at the same time, capable of supporting the existence of clues in a large number of locations, all quite far from one another.
But till now no company or individual has taken credit or tried to monetised it, and fact remains a mystery.