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Introducing the NSA-Proof Crypto-Font

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the for-days-when-reading-words-seems-too-easy dept.

Privacy 259

Daniel_Stuckey writes "At a moment when governments and corporations alike are hellbent on snooping through your personal digital messages, it'd sure be nice if there was a font their dragnets couldn't decipher. So Sang Mun built one. Sang, a recent graduate from the Rhode Island Schoold of Design, has unleashed ZXX — a 'disruptive typeface' that he says is much more difficult to the NSA and friends to decrypt. He's made it free to download on his website, too. 'The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?' he writes. 'I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker) — misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence.' He named it after the Library of Congress's labeling code ZXX, which archivists employ when they find a book that contains 'no linguistic content.'"

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259 comments

Familiar with image recognition at all? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080907)

Undecipherable my ass.

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (5, Funny)

geoskd (321194) | about a year ago | (#44080979)

Undecipherable my ass.

He's from a school of design, give him a little slack for not understanding how computers work...

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081027)

Undecipherable fonts. That means when I say NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER the slashdot editors will actually have to read the comments to mod me down with their infinite mod points! Wow that sounds great. Maybe they won't be so goddamned out of touch;

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (5, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#44081085)

This just in: Slashdot announced that Anonymous Coward's contract would not be renewed for next year.

Re:Familiar with niggers at all? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081155)

This just in your mom's stinking twat: my dick!

Re:Familiar with niggers at all? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081287)

I prefer my dick in a young womans' sweet vagina, but to each his own I guess.

Re:Familiar with niggers at all? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081329)

I prefer my dick in a young womans' sweet vagina

Is that what you're calling your right hand these days?

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (5, Funny)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44081087)

He's from a school of design, give him a little slack for not understanding how computers work...

No doubt he uses that font for all his email, having recently switched from comic sans.

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about a year ago | (#44081277)

Meanwhile geeks, who do understand how computers work, instead of developing technologies supporting encryption and pricacy by default, have instead hopped into bed with big data and the NSA. There are more geeks helping the NSA builds a Stasi apperatus than there are geeks working on building a truely anonymous and untappable internet.

The more I think back to the likes of the whole Firefox self signed certs debacle, the more I see the NSA survellance apperatus collectively roaring with laughter at geekdom's heedless self-destruction of itself and the internet.

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (2)

Instine (963303) | about a year ago | (#44081297)

It's actually very difficult for the text to be read and filtered by a computer using this form of obfuscation, as long as there are enough variants of each letter, and they are well randomised throughout the content. However, you don't actually need a special font: http://www.tienhuis.nl/utf8-generator [tienhuis.nl]

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#44081079)

I want to know why he thinks the NSA prints out each webpage and email and then runs it through OCR.

???

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081375)

I want to know why he thinks the NSA prints out each webpage and email and then runs it through OCR.

???

This is government we're talking about here. It's a kickback to the paper, printer, and scanner companies who contributed so much to some campaigns during the last election cycle!

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44081159)

Even if the image recognition software wasn't adaptive (which I know at least some are), an image document with this font would scream red flag. A document with lots of text but low correspondence to common latin fonts?

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081221)

This is the first submission I have modded down since the ability to vote down submissions. I tend to vote and mod positively. Who in their right might voted this story up? Speak up so we may mock you.

Re:Familiar with image recognition at all? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44081447)

Undecipherable my ass.

More importantly, it's not as though the NSA reads your email by printing it out and sending it off for OCR... Font doesn't mean much if you have the document in any remotely sane digital format.

Yes, that'll work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080909)

for all the printed content that you want nobody to read.

Re:Yes, that'll work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080977)

You mean this font will be best used on all future Slashdot summaries?

Re:Yes, that'll work (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44081103)

No, just for TFAs.

The summaries are sometimes scanned by slashdot readers, so comic sans would work for those.
The titles? They have to be in clear text.

Easy to crack? (5, Informative)

doomtiki (789936) | about a year ago | (#44080915)

Given that this seems to be just a simple font, why would it be hard to write an OCR program to decipher specifically this font (or any other supposedly secure font)? Perhaps a program that dynamically obfuscated text like a CAPTCHA would be more useful. This appears to be more of an artistic statement than something useful.

Re:Easy to crack? (5, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#44080955)

It isn't any more difficult to crack. Moreover, the absolute only way it would introduce any difficulty at all is if the NSA is scanning images of text. You can bet 95% or more of the data they intercept is already in digital form. The computer already knows what letters are what, so this will help precisely not at all, unless you start sending your emails in image formats, in which case, which is... yeah, not exactly a good plan. Just use encryption if it needs to be secure. This doesn't do anything.

Re:Easy to crack? (2)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about a year ago | (#44081165)

Agree with parent: this is just silly, unless what is being sent is an image of the text. Not ASCII or any other binary encoding.

And if one was going to send images of secret messages, what would make more sense is to use steganography: put the message in image. Like probably millions of Internet users are doing already. How else can you explain the plethora of cute kitten pictures?

A point on which I'd like to see serious discussion by persons who know what they are talking about: How hard is it to determine whether any given image contains a steg message? Assuming the message is also encoded with something simple, like Playfair?

Re:Easy to crack? (1)

number11 (129686) | about a year ago | (#44081285)

Agree with parent: this is just silly, unless what is being sent is an image of the text. Not ASCII or any other binary encoding.

Maybe useful if you're sending your sekrit plans by fax, postcard, or carrier pigeon. Or, would have been useful until NSA had a copy of the font.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Re:Easy to crack? (2)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year ago | (#44081371)

You can look to see if the image is bit-for-bit the same as a known clean image on the internet. EG you intercept an image in an email that also appeared on, say, 9gag. You do a check to see if the image is in the same resolution, the same codec, etc. If you know they're the same format and such, you can delta the two images, if there's a difference you look to see if the difference is on the least significant bits. If so, that's pretty strong evidence that the image has a seganographic message in it.

Other than doing a delta technique with a known clean image, I don't have any idea off the top of my head for cryptanalysis methods of finding evidence for image steganographies.

Re:Easy to crack? (1)

phrank (112038) | about a year ago | (#44081437)

Steganography is the right tool for obscuring the use of cryptography, if applied correctly. If not–by using a weak algorithm, none at all or well known kitten images–it can be detected easily, of course. Just collect the low bits and apply natural language statistics or some basic cryptoanalysis.

Probably the NSA can in fact break any cipher. Why else would they employ so many brilliant mathematicians?
If I were an agency, I would prefer the easy route and make myself comfortable inside everyones keyboards.

Re:Easy to crack? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081213)

This doesn't do anything.

Oh. So it's like anal sex? All that did was make my dick stink.

Re:Easy to crack? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081463)

That's what you get for posting about shooting your prodigious cum into some cheeto-stained /. poster's ass with your prodigious dick.

Fucking faggot.
Probably only 2 inches long, too.....

Re:Easy to crack? (5, Funny)

Slugster (635830) | about a year ago | (#44080973)

That is because you are like stupid.

This would be totally rad to make signs with the next time hipsters wear the V masks and have one of those "Occupy Mall Street" things again.

Re:Easy to crack? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081083)

That is because you are like stupid. This would be totally rad to make signs with the next time hipsters wear the V masks and have one of those "Occupy Mall Street" things again.

It's "WALL street" you fuckin' moron. Maybe you've heard of it?

Think of that the next time you tell someone they are stupid.

Re:Easy to crack? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081191)

Can't you see that he wrote with the obfuscated font?

Re: Easy to crack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081549)

Ahh, you're one of those mall rats, eh? ;)

Oh that Sang Mun (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080923)

I heard he's quite the cunning linguist!

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080929)

not sure what the point is even if you typed it in wingdings it would not obscure the meaning of the original message

Re:huh? (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44081177)

not sure what the point is even if you typed it in wingdings it would not obscure the meaning of the original message

As SCO once demonstrated so aptly...

Re:huh? (1)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | about a year ago | (#44081393)

"As SCO once demonstrated so aptly..."

I believe you are confusing a lawsuit concieved by wingings rather than written in that font. :)

But a BYTE Is a letter (4, Informative)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about a year ago | (#44080931)

which is only subsequently translated into a type face when the item is converted into an image which doesn't contain the letters. So all your data would have to be held as such PDFs, which are no longer searchable.Nice idea - shame about the reality

Unleash arts students on technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081015)

watch the stupid unfold.

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (3, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44081019)

The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. -- Thomas Huxley

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (1)

mephist01 (122565) | about a year ago | (#44081123)

I've seen a couple academic articles in pdfs where copied text came out as jibberish. At the time I thought it was copy protected because when I examined the metadata I saw that dozens of proprietary fonts had been embedded.

If a font that escapes OCR is created so that it does not match ascii or unicode standards then I can see that it wouldn't be machine readable, at least until someone works out the mapping manually. However, the document wouldn't be searchable and would be pretty much an image.

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44081339)

I've seen a couple academic articles in pdfs where copied text came out as jibberish. At the time I thought it was copy protected because when I examined the metadata I saw that dozens of proprietary fonts had been embedded.

That happens whenever the typesetting program doesn't include an internal-encoding-to-Unicode table into the PDF file. My understanding of PDF is quite rusty but I believe that the Tj operator which is most commonly used for drawing text works with 8-bit strings. This means that if the original uses anything clever, the typesetting SW has to reencode the font, translate the original into to the new encoding, and embed a matching translation table from character numbers to glyph names to be used for displaying the text. When you're copying the text out, every character has to be converted back to Unicode according to the table which may or may not be present. If there are more different characters used in the text than what the 8-bit strings can handle, you have to switch the reencoding in the middle of the text and include multiple reencoding tables. I think that since the glyphs are named, you need to include the (potentially subsetted) font only once, but again, there have to be multiple 8-bit-number-to-glyph-name tables present, otherwise you wouldn't be able to display the different strings with different reencodings. Pretty much the only situation where you can copy out text without the reencoding tables is when the text is ASCII-only and uses the default mapping, which will fail for any non-English text, for example.

If anyone here understands PDF better than I do, feel free to correct me.

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (1)

idunham (2852899) | about a year ago | (#44081413)

IIRC, part of the problem is that the font tables may include arbitrary character numbers; if you use characters a-e and m-p, it's fine for the application to write a PDF that maps those like it would map a-i. (Source: my best recollection of the notes in either xpdf or mupdf, I forget which, that I read a year or two ago...)

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44081505)

That's perfectly all right, it doesn't matter when displaying the text since the uint8->glyph_name table is always there (otherwise the text would be undisplayable). It's just that the uint8->Unicode_code_point isn't mandatory and without it, you're copying out the internal representation as a pile of gibberish instead of a Unicode string.

alternate implementation (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#44081493)

If you exported a document as a pdf, you can embed fonts in it. Run a program to convert your original text file into another one. translate out the characters to other ascii ids. and then embed the font.

For example, ""DOG". Letter "D" is ascii 68. So the pdf will say "this is character 68, in whatever font you had selected." So place the obfuscated glyph for "D" in the position for "Y" (90) and then change all Ds to Ys in the document's text stream. Then when a person reads it, it LOOKS like DOG but copy-paste will get "YOG". Do this for all characters and numbers.

A smart app to do this would roll up a random ascii remapping for each document, and obfuscate characters in the font differently each document. This would make it difficult to craft a specific skimmer module to handle this obfuscation automatically..

This will allow you to email or post the data, and humans to read it, but skimmers won't get legible text with a copy and paste, and if they then fall back to OCR attempt, that will also fail.

Although in reality, fallback to OCR in an automated system is unlikely, and would probably just move on to the next document to skim. So just making very slight adjustments to the glyphs in the font, (to prevent automated correction) in addition to mixing them up, would probably do a good job against fully automated skimming. The adjustments this guy is making (except for the last one) are inconvenient to read. Just adding a LITTLE noise would do the trick I think.

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (1)

Bazman (4849) | about a year ago | (#44081441)

For a single font and a known language the mapping can be cracked easily by computer - its just a permutation and you can crack it by letter frequency analysis. Once the computer has guessed E and T and a couple of vowels it can dictionary-scan the rest of the text for possible words and get the rest of the letters.

I suppose if you use several fonts then you could use them so that E was 21 in font 1 and 8 in font 2 and so on, and then switch fonts randomly to balance out the number counts. I still think that's crackable, you just have a two-d table of frequencies (number/font) to try.

Re:But a BYTE Is a letter (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | about a year ago | (#44081169)

PDFs very much can be searchable, and cut & paste-able, etc.

I guess it will work... (4, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#44080949)

I guess it will work for all my digital content that I save as raster graphics. Which is...um...none of it.

Re:I guess it will work... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081101)

I guess it will work for all my digital content that I save as raster graphics. Which is...um...none of it.

I have raster graphics of your mom riding my fucking cock!

Re:I guess it will work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081481)

Well, I guess if 80 year old women are your thing, then have at it....

Re:I guess it will work... (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44081271)

I guess it will work for all my digital content that I save as raster graphics. Which is...um...none of it.

Meanwhile, at NSA headquarters...

If Findfile(@SYSTEMDIR & "\Fonts\" & "ZXX.tff") Then {
        Enhanced_anal_prober();
}

They're from RISD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44080971)

They're from RISD, of course it's pointless. RISD is just a place where stupid hipster kids with rich parents go to film themselves masturbating in bath tubs then go in front of the class and spout a line of b.s. about how it's the most original and unique thing ever created.

Re:They're from RISD (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#44081305)

RISD is just a place where stupid hipster kids with rich parents go to film themselves masturbating in bath tubs then go in front of the class and spout a line of b.s. about how it's the most original and unique thing ever created.

I dunno. The Talking Heads came out of the RISD, and they were pretty cool back in the 80's.

Of course, maybe the RISD only produces a band like that once in a lifetime . . .

Re:They're from RISD (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year ago | (#44081311)

In all fairness, there's a good reason why nobody ever before attempted to do whatever they did, so it IS unique.

This is what you get... (4, Insightful)

carlhaagen (1021273) | about a year ago | (#44080993)

...when people with a fundamentally flawed understanding of computer communication try their hands at digital cryptography.

Yeah... (4, Informative)

Georules (655379) | about a year ago | (#44081005)

Looks like a fun little project, but subverted about as trivially as a ROT-13. A dynamic font might be a little better.

How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?

By using a real form of encryption.

Re:Yeah... (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44081275)

The beast at Tanagra. Kiteo, his eyes closed. Temba, his arms wide/open. Shaka, when the walls fell. Temba, at rest.

That's all I've got to say about that.

Re:Yeah... (2)

BSAtHome (455370) | about a year ago | (#44081283)

Just send all communication in EBCDIC with latin or utf ID. Surely will make all slightly modern computers go haywire.

VGA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081009)

VGA 640x480, not b8000 text, hand drawn

I don't get it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081031)

So, the NSA is reading your digital communications. A funky font is no help here, unless it also uses a different encoding (such as trivial replacement scheme where letters look like different letters). This kind of security by obscurity is't something that will defeat the NSA if they try. It might help if they don't try, but wouldn't real encryption be a better idea?

In the case of printed text, this font is supposed to resist OCR via security by obscurity. Thats not very useful: feed the publicly available font into the OCR software then the encryption is broken.

I'm glad someone it trying to cause a minor inconvenience for the NSA, but perhaps he should just use https for his site instead? That would accomplish more. Unencrypted site that wants to give me a cookie; that protects my privacy real well. (Oh, and slashdot, about time for https for you too?).

Recommending Tor would make more sense.

Sang? (0)

spudnic (32107) | about a year ago | (#44081037)

His name is ''Sang'' ? Past tense ?

Is this a joke? (1, Insightful)

whoisrich (1194797) | about a year ago | (#44081043)

I am not sure if the person is an idiot or just trying to get attention from the NSA news.

The fact that each character has the same obfuscation means that it would be easy to match against, it would be more secure to take a marker pen and scribble random lines through pictures of your rebel message.

But the "clever cryptographic fontâ"which you can use in email messages to shield them from snoops" is just laughable. Any text scanner would only see the character encoding, not the font, or is opening an e-mail and changing it's font beyond their comprehension.

Oh shit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081095)

And here I was about to submit my idea for my smell-o-encryption. You need a smell-o-scope to decipher it.

Re:Is this a joke? (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44081267)

Yes, you get better encryption when you type unicode on Slashdot..

How about this one? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081051)

Almost completely indecipherable. http://blokkfont.com/

really want to give the NSA fits? (2, Funny)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about a year ago | (#44081063)

hey this has given me an idea for the perfect secure font...every char is a blank.

URL, L-N, = truth. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081065)

Take, http://blogs.walkerart.org/design/2013/06/20/sang-mun-defiant-typeface-nsa-privacy/
make http://blogs.wankerart.org/design/2013/06/20/sang-mun-defiant-typeface-nsa-privacy/

and discover the truth behind his claims.

Hopefully this is a joke (0)

putaro (235078) | about a year ago | (#44081107)

Hmmm...either the author of the article or this Sang guy needs a little education on how email works.

Sang has no illusions that even a clever cryptographic font—which you can use in email messages to shield them from snoops and font-recognition bots—will remain encoded for long.

Guys, email isn't fax. It's not sent around as an image so the font isn't going to change whether or not your text can be interpreted by a machine.

Has this guy has never hear of frequency analysis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081109)

Nice work creating a new font face.

Pity frequency analysis and a translation table would quickly destroy this. The video admits that at least the "false" style is straight glyph substitution which he gives a partial crib to in the video.

This aint going to keep anything secret

compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081113)

everything is patented, so use your own LZW compression

useless (2)

BarfooTheSecond (409743) | about a year ago | (#44081133)

"This project will not fully solve the problems we are facing now", they say. I'd say it barely solve some.
It could even mislead people into thinking that writing emails with this font will make their messages safer. My father for sure would, as he doesn't know what UTF-8 nor what "charset" do mean.

Woosh!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081135)

Al of /. completely missed his joke. Man, you guy are pathetic.

Re:Woosh!!!! (2)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about a year ago | (#44081545)

Al of /. completely missed his joke. Man, you guy are pathetic.

I know /. readership has dropped over the past few years, but I think you might be exaggerating just a little bit, here.....

Missing the point... (3, Insightful)

RedBear (207369) | about a year ago | (#44081141)

I think most commenters here will end up completely missing the point, just as I initially did. Of course it will be trivial to bypass any possible protection the font might briefly provide, but that isn't the point. The making of the font is a political statement against government machinery and software spying on us and taking our humanity away. As such, I'd say it's quite clever and attention-getting.

Now I'll sit back and watch 50 different people get up-modded for pedantically explaining how it will be trivial to train an OCR to recognize the font and how software reads the bytecodes and doesn't care about the font and blah blah blah...

Is that a giant whooshing sound I hear?

Re:Missing the point... (4, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | about a year ago | (#44081229)

And I will be writing all of my messages in crayon from now on because crayon will smudge up the scanner. It's only a point if it actually does something!

Re:Missing the point... (-1)

RedBear (207369) | about a year ago | (#44081507)

And I will be writing all of my messages in crayon from now on because crayon will smudge up the scanner. It's only a point if it actually does something!

I cannot believe this was modded up as Insightful. A "point" does not have to accomplish something. A point can be, and in this case is, an idea or statement.

point (noun):

4.
- a single item or detail in an extended discussion, list, or text
- an argument or idea put forward by a person in discussion
- (usu. the point) the significant or essential element of what is intended or being discussed

Re:Missing the point... (1)

PipianJ (574459) | about a year ago | (#44081269)

While commenters here will be quick to point out that the font doesn't actually provide protection, you have to realize that there are people who will actually perceive the font as offering protection. Setting the record straight is just as important as recognizing the artistic message behind the act. We can appreciate the intent and the result, but we should also not delude ourselves that it has purpose beyond simply conveying an artistic message.

What's interesting is that this actually enriches the post-modern interpretation of the artwork, rather than detracting from it. Not only does the work demonstrate the superficial rejection of the all-seeing police state, but to those who understand and appreciate the technical aspects of the digitization of data, it also demonstrates deeper opposing meanings that are equally valid:

  • that despite the effort of the common man, it is practically impossible to hide from the panopticon;
  • that the commercialization and publication of a "standard" way to avoid breaches of privacy (i.e. a monoculture of privacy applications, like how so many people turn to 1Password) inevitably lead to breaches of privacy due to the shared central point of weakness; and
  • that, ultimately, the assumption of and reliance on a shallow culture of privacy ("oh, just use PGP and you're safe!") is insufficient.

Re:Missing the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081357)

I wonder if something hinted-at in the font might be extendable. Suppose each letter was, say 3 letters occupying the same space, like A, B, and C all being on top of each other. Use that same symbol for all three letters. When writing text, whenever you need one of those three letters, you RANDOMLY pick one of those three numerical codes. Then combine D, E, and G for those three symbols (E and F overlap too much). When writing text, and you need one of those three letters, you randomly pick one of those three numerical codes. Sure, both the human and the computer would have to juggle possible combinations of letters, to figure out each word. But the human might be better at it, after practice....

Re:Missing the point... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44081397)

Spammers have been trying to sneak past filters since the dawn of the internet, and have forgotten more about it than most people will ever know. Your best bet is probably to mix up words so they are still legible but don't match word recognition algorithms, and only then until the NSA catch on that this is being widely used. Assuming you don't just get snagged on spam filters.

Re:Missing the point... (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | about a year ago | (#44081453)

I think most commenters here will end up completely missing the point, just as I initially did. Of course it will be trivial to bypass any possible protection the font might briefly provide, but that isn't the point. The making of the font is a political statement against government machinery and software spying on us and taking our humanity away. As such, I'd say it's quite clever and attention-getting.

Now I'll sit back and watch 50 different people get up-modded for pedantically explaining how it will be trivial to train an OCR to recognize the font and how software reads the bytecodes and doesn't care about the font and blah blah blah...

Is that a giant whooshing sound I hear?

Either way, it's still lame. I mean the pedants are obnoxious but so are pointless political gestures.

Re:Missing the point... (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44081491)

No matter how many times I hear the "but he's making a statement!" argument, it never stops seeming retarded. You mean he's winning a symbolic victory? You can win all the symbolic victories you want - I'll take the real victories.

Re:Missing the point... (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#44081515)

If you want to make a political statement, why not just make a font that is all middle fingers? Equally useful, much clearer, and it requires far less effort. That he intends to make a political statement doesn't stop him from being a dumbass. There are plenty of stupid political statements. Furthermore, I'm not entirely convinced that he believes this to be a purely political statement. If he does, then he's done a poor job of explaining himself, as that is not what his statements convey. In all likelihood, he really has a poor grasp of the issues at hand, and while he is on the right side of this issue, he's not doing anything to help, and may give some people a false sense of security.

Have they thought this out? (1, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year ago | (#44081147)

At a moment when governments and corporations alike are hellbent on snooping through your personal digital messages, it'd sure be nice if there was a font their dragnets couldn't decipher.

It is just a font! If I'm sending a digital message, as the intent of this article states, then it hardly matters what font I want it displayed in. What am I expected to do, print every email that I type and all of the data that I want to send into an image that uses this font and just send the image? I'm not convinced that would slow the NSA down as much as it would impact the people I was trying to send it to, not to mention the potential for errors in receiving messages. I'll stick with my one time pad software.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081173)

If you have clicked on this article, you have been flagged as an enemy.

Doing this with HTML (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44081179)

You could obfuscate HTML by generating a custom font with glyphs in the Unicode private use space for each message, then using hard-to-read characters. This is, of course, a monoalphabetic substitution, which is close to the weakest known cryptosystem. At best it might be useful for getting spam through filters.

If anybody started using this font for CAPCHAs, there would be a module to break it for spam programs within weeks. Assuming the existing learning algorithms didn't solve it automatically.

Cut him some slack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081189)

However silly this idea is, at least he took a stab at things. Most liberal arts and "sciences" types are too useless for even trying.

hand writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081203)

I didn't read anything. Neither TFA nor any posts.

But hand writing seems to be the simple most option. Ugly hand writing in particular.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081227)

How did this make it on slashdot when there are more pressing issues that have happened recently dealing with the NSA scandal.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Just go on a font site and get a dingbat font... Or any other font that doesn't use typical font characteristics.

Summary misses the point... again... (3, Interesting)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44081233)

Yes, as anyone with half an ounce of sense will have already realised, no font will ever be NSA proof. The first mistake was publishing it on the internet...

The creator is trying to make a point about privacy, not implement a workable solution.

You guys don't get it (1)

t8z5h3 (1241142) | about a year ago | (#44081235)

I would not ether unless I had a tech support call about a x showing up when the guy pressed the r key... This really about ASCII codes. The person who created it thinks 1. NSA is focued on U.S. keyboards (as it is the English standered each key is mapped to a ASCII code so if you mix up those codes and send all your e-mail in HTML where the codes are mapped to the letters then your safe 2. NSA is so big and working on so many streams of info that the amount of work it would take to create a single system to work on the font that few will use its pointless. (apple effect for hackers) Also NSA is looking most likely for keywords this will not set off any of those.

wow- so dumb. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#44081247)

Firstly, if its using standard character values and this font is laid over it, then you just look at the character value.

Secondly, If this is only for display documents, there's OCR and the NSA is unlikely to get a sneaker net hard copy anyway.

So if you limit it to electronic documents, then the only way to make it unreadable is

a) the underlying character values are goofy ( the letter 'z' displays as "A").

So the unicode character values
zd% ne@erkaw $ekkew
is actually display as
"The terrorist network."

And then you might as well use stenography.

Using the word crypto is a disservice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081257)

Slashdot editor should be flogged for the term crypto-font, considering there is no cryptography at all.

why does retarded shit like this get on /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081273)

I remember when bullshit like this wouldn't have been posted at all as it wouldn't have made it past the editors bullshit detector. Now this? Some stupid fucking font designed by an art student who somehow thinks he understands computers or cryptography because he watched "Hackers" over 100 times. Seriously this place has gone downhill. What the fuck is going on guys?

That's what I was thinking (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#44081345)

I was going to come in here and remind Soulskill that this is not April first. But then I remembered that there's a "submit story" link in the /. global footer. This is probably his way of reminding us that we need to click that now and then if we don't want to see this crud.

I already switched to this typeface everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081309)

Thunderbird, global stylesheet override in Firefox, IRC client, Pidgin, and the main typeface for Windows. Go to hell, NSA!!!

Using my company's in-house OCR... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081327)

I fed this into the OCR software developed at my company, took it almost 5 seconds to determine that it can reliably determine if this font is in use with about 23 pixels sampled, assuming font size of 12 point, and it will need to sample about 9 pixels from each "character" to determine what the character is. Not that difficult, but it is a set up from the average of 7 pixels.

In summary: FAIL.

Great art but.. (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#44081359)

lousy encryption idea. I mean, all one has to do is add this to an OCR database in order to decipher the text. anything printed and mapped is in essence already broken.

Wrong goal (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#44081365)

The idea should be to get ideas out on a larger scale, not hide them.

Now he just needs to get the NSA to install it (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about a year ago | (#44081389)

So his stuff will actually show up in that font when they try to read it.

Wait...

Epic failure (2)

pbjones (315127) | about a year ago | (#44081401)

Too easy to train OCR for his font. Same glyph for same character. When they say that NSA is reading your mail, they don't mean snail mail. I'm sure that it seamed like a good idea at the time.

Useless against PRISM but might prevent TEMPEST (0)

percyalpha (2694545) | about a year ago | (#44081449)

PRISM intercept data in digital form, so the font means nothing to them. However, the font might be useful against TEMPEST (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempest_%28codename%29). The font can make it more difficult for attackers to analyze the Electro-Magnetic signals emitted by your computer monitors.

cryptographic compression (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44081539)

Hey, I've got this cryptographic compression library you could try. It can reduce any document 100%, and it makes them entirely undecipherable as well.

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