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Home » Hacking News » Crypto challenge has geeks scratching their heads

Crypto challenge has geeks scratching their heads

by Nikola Strahija on July 9th, 2002 A cryptography challenge run by Cape Town-based Thawte Computing is attracting interest from around the world with entrants from as far as Afghanistan and Barbados struggling to crack the code posted on its Web site.


The challenge, primarily a marketing exercise run by the company started by space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, will run until the code has been cracked, says Melanie Reed, Thawte marketing co-ordinator. "They are competing against one another, not the clock."

Reed says the challenge is quite tough and no one has solved it yet. Thawte will issue clues to the challenge every two weeks until it has been solved.

Entrants on the www.thawte.com/cryptochallenge site are issued with a multi-line code and a key, of which they have to make sense. But the site does warn that the code is "not for the faint-hearted or the feeble-minded. This code has been designed to give you a complete cerebral workout."

Most of the entrants come from the US, says Reed, with others from the UK, Canada, India and SA, in that order. Reed says only about 130 South Africans have signed up for the challenge about 5% of the overall total.

Some of the less likely countries represented in the challenge include Abu Dhabi, Lesotho, Mongolia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Tracey Steyn, Thawte online marketing manager, says the main reasons for running the challenge are to build the Thawte brand and to establish relationships with the company's target market. "The Thawte crypto challenge aims to address both these issues: develop a relationship with our current customers and like-minded people, as well as add to the Thawte brand personality."

Reed says the challenge has had a good response. "We have had over 2 000 people register so far and have received numerous positive e-mails about it too. I think people enjoy having something challenging to chew on - it breaks up their day and stimulates them."


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