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Mafia Boss Using Crook Crypto Captured

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the never-heard-of-pgp-and-email dept.

378

boggis writes "Discovery is running a story on Bernardo Provenzano, the recently arrested 'boss of bosses' of the Sicilian Mafia. He apparently wrote notes to his henchmen using a modified form of the Caesar Cipher, which was easily cracked by the police and resulted in further arrests of collaborators. Discovery's cryptography expert describes it as a code that 'will keep your kid sister out'."

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Substituion Cipher? (4, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149333)

God, he used a simple (rot3) substitution Cipher, with not even a Vigenère keyword and didn't expect it to get broken?

People have been using frequency analysis [wikipedia.org] for over a thousand years to crack substitution ciphers!

Re:Substituion Cipher? (4, Funny)

holdenholden (961300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149401)

Yeah, but the Police were in clear violation of the DMCA ;-).

Re:Substituion Cipher? (4, Insightful)

courtarro (786894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149442)

Even worse, people decode random-substitution ciphers in newspapers daily, for fun. A rotating cipher is even easier to break since the letters remain sequential. I guess we could give the guy a break though, since, according to the article, he only has about a 3rd-grade education.

Re:Substituion Cipher? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149518)

In his defense, this clearly wasn't the most important element of his information security. Surely he had other mechanisms in place (fear) to prevent people from getting their hands on the paper.


This was probably only meant to thwart the efforts of the guy carrying the pieces of paper for him; who may have been picked for his lack of literacy anyway (as some natl lab workers were in the past, with simiar security logic behind it).


Sadly, over half the time I see PHP programmers commit just as bad a mistake when they hard-code databasee passwords in plain text in their PHP. Like Provenzano they assume noone will grab the information with the password; but like him that doesn't really help the case.

Re:Substituion Cipher? (1)

Rekolitus (899752) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149673)

Err. Just about every PHP program I've seen does that. What alternative do you suggest?

Re:Substituion Cipher? (1)

IDontAgreeWithYou (829067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149738)

I am going to assume/hope he meant an SA or DBO password as opposed to a limited user-account password.

Re:Substituion Cipher? (2, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149685)

Fear may also be the reason no one told him that this wasn't a good way to send messages.

Oh no! (0)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149335)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Must be using the crypto on this story!

If only.. (5, Interesting)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149340)

You see, now if you want to do secure pencil and paper ciphers here's how you do it.

  • Get two decks of cards, including the jokers. You should have 108 cards in all.
  • Encode a face up card as one and a face down card as zero.
  • Find a dense primitive polynomial [wikipedia.org] of order 108.
  • Randomize the face up and face down cards in the pack.
  • Construct a self-shrinking linear feedback shift register [wikipedia.org] .
  • The keystream you clock off is reasonably secure.

Self-shrinking generators are broken but the best attack requires an insane amount of plain-text. Far, far, more than you could ever generate by hand. If Mr Mafia had used this instead of a crappy cipher from two thousand years ago then he might not have been caught.

Throughout history lives have literally depended on the strength of the cryptography people have deployed. I find it exciting that these times are still with us and are not mearly confined to the history books.

Simon

Re:If only.. (2, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149390)

I'm willing to bet he "discovered" this cipher on his own. Had he researched it at all he would have known better.
-nB

Re:If only.. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149692)

Since he's italian, maybe he heard that Caesar used it, and wanted to do the same? It says in the article that he dropped out of school at 8 years old, and that he conducted business on a typewriter, so he probably wouldnt have been able to handle any more complex a crypto scheme

Re:If only.. (1)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149412)

Or you could try the one in Cryptonomicon. The details elude me, but I recall it being something like RC4 with a deck of cards.

Re:If only.. (2, Informative)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149434)

Or you could try the one in Cryptonomicon. The details elude me, but I recall it being something like RC4 with a deck of cards.

This was a cipher called Solitaire, which was created by Bruce Schneier. It has been horribly broken.

Simon

Re:If only.. (2, Informative)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149756)

For more information concerning the solitaire encryption algorithm, see either http://www.schneier.com/solitaire.html [schneier.com] or read Cryptonomicon.

To see all of the problems concerning the solitaire algorithm, see http://www.ciphergoth.org/crypto/solitaire/ [ciphergoth.org]

Re:If only.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149487)

Couldnt you just, like, flip a coin 108 times and use the results as a one time pad?

Re:If only.. (5, Informative)

Redwin (805980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149696)

Considering ancient cyphers, if I remember correctly the ancient Chinese used to write messages Ceaser cypher style messages on fabric that had to be wrapped around a pole. The pole had to be the exact length and thickness or the text wouldn't align up and the decyphering process couldn't be started. If anyone was stopped, they could hand over the fabric covered in text and it would be meaningless without knowing what kind of pole was used to algin everything up.

Or in other words (2, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149343)

8 jqe3 y8j qh 9rr34 y3 d97oeh[5 43r7w3.

There's only one proper response to this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149344)

Bwahahahahahahahaha!

Svefg Cbfg! (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149354)

Behold the power of Rot 13 [rot13.com] ! It's ten times more powerful than that weak Rot 3.

Re:Svefg Cbfg! (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149384)

Then Rot 26 should be a whole 20 times more powerful!

I'd hate to imagine what ROT 208 would be like !

Re:Svefg Cbfg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149731)

It might be just as secure as a ROT0!

Behold the power of ROT13 times 2! (4, Funny)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149524)

Stand back!

Behold twice the power of a ROT13 used twice!

Re:Behold the power of ROT13 times 2! (4, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149740)

Arrgh! I just see a sequence of ASCII characters now! B... e... h... What the hell did you do!?

Re:Svefg Cbfg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149551)

Ten times? I guess you're operating on radix-27.

Re:Svefg Cbfg! (2, Funny)

umedia (964947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149569)

"hold the power of Rot 13! It's ten times more powerful than that weak Rot 3."

hear he tried yEnc but was flamed by henchmen that preferred uuencode.

I have a feeling this was more about the man seeing himself as a "Cesar", than encryption methodology however.

You didn't expect (3, Funny)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149356)

these people to be brain surgeons did you?

Re:You didn't expect (2, Insightful)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149459)

Certainly not, but I would think that those whose livelihoods and lives depended upon secrecy would be a little more careful with information. Okay, so according to TFA, the guy dropped out of school when he was 8. Maybe he wasn't the sharpest knife in the silverware cabinet - hell, maybe he was a spoon - but he seemed to have some leadership talent. You don't become a "boss of bosses" otherwise. Part of leadership is making sure if you don't know yourself how something important works, you have somebody you trust who does know it. Surely somebody in the organization knew that such a simple code wouldn't hold up...

Re:You didn't expect (4, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149537)

A good leader would delegate tasks like communication security to someone who could do that well. However, I get the feeling that someone who dropped out of school at 8 and became a mob boss may not have been keeping up to date on the latest management training strategies. =)

Re:You didn't expect (1)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149683)

It's a business like any other. Gotta get efficient, stay in touch, and increase your profits. And when your competition is looking to take you down, you've gotta stay ahead of them. He did pretty well, obviously, for a while...but if he can't be arsed to keep up with the times, it's his arse in the fire.

Talent or Sheer Violence (1)

WebHostingGuy (825421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149757)

>>but he seemed to have some leadership talent. You don't become a "boss of bosses" otherwise.

Maybe, he just whacked anyone who dared to disagree. Everyone else just fell into line.

I think this is one occupation where traditional management styles may not apply.

of course not (1)

xmodem_and_rommon (884879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149483)

Of course we don't...but it is NOT hard to use good crypto

Had he used AES rather than his shitty substitution cypher, he would still be at large (assuming the encryption key was secure). AES isn't the simplest algorithm, but you do not need a fast computer to encrypt data to it.

On windows, check out 7-zip ( http://www.7zip.org/ [7zip.org] ) for good, simple crypto. Us Mac OS X users have it built into the OS in the form of encrypted disk images and filevault. Not to mention encrypted virtual memory (for the turly paranoid)

Re:You didn't expect (1)

LoonyMike (917095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149486)

Judging from some movies, some of them are at least *aspiring* brain surgeons

Re:You didn't expect (1)

Zephyros (966835) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149534)

Maybe, but unfortunately due to dropping out of school at the age of eight, they can't tell the difference between a bullet and a scalpel...

Re:You didn't expect (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149511)

You didn't expect these people to be brain surgeons did you?

If they were then they would have used "braintography" where they hide messages inside the brain either by direct surgical insertion or careful manipulation of neurons (aka brainstegonography [wikipedia.org] ).

Sorry, what does cryptography have to do with brain surgeons again?

Hello, My name is Simon. (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149385)

xfmm tpo tpnfujnft tboub hpuub hfu xbdlfe

Re:Hello, My name is Simon. (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149489)

...and you like to make drawerings?

Re:Hello, My name is Simon. (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149506)

well son sometimes santa gotta get wacked
(rot-25 [fizzl.net] )

Not very smart (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149397)

He apparently wrote notes to his henchmen using a modified form of the Caesar Cipher

To put that into computer terms, he ROT13ed the text. This sort of cipher was used by Caesar not because it was secure, but because most people couldn't read. Even those that could read undoubtedly lacked sufficient education to consider a cryptoanalysis of the text. But if someone does consider a cryptoanalysis, it is incredibly easy to break this cipher.

Simply substituting the first letter with each letter of the alphabet allows for a brute force attempt at decoding by then replacing the rest of the letters with the exact same offset used on the first character. This method ensures that the message will be decrypted even if the alphabet has additional characters. (Either for purposes of obfuscation or additional information.) The only method that can be used to prevent an attacker from using this simple decoding method (you don't even need a computer!) is to mangle the alphabet somehow. For example, if the alphabet is backwards an attacker would have more trouble decrypting the cipher. Even then, however, a simple statistical analysis on the occurance of the letters would quickly decrypt the message and reveal the secret alphabet used.

That being said, this particular mobster was smart enough to realize that a simple cipher like this would be insufficient to deter a decoder. So he attempted to confuse would-be attackers by using a number code to obscure names. I imagine that he thought that attackers would assume that he was using a codebook to keep track of the assigned names. Unfortunately (for him), his 8th grade education was obviously insufficient for him to know that his number sequences are very similar to compression techniques. Anyone with experience would note that the codes were far too long, and that the number 1 appeared quite often. Its appearance suggests that its a "trigger" for interpreting the next number differently.

So there you have it, security through obscurity does not work.

Re:Not very smart (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149462)

Yeah, it only worked until the guy was 73 years old.

Re:Not very smart (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149606)

Correction: It only worked until the police got ahold of his messages.

Re:Not very smart (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149625)

it only worked until the guy was 73 years old.

I have a feeling that this has more to do with careful control of the information pipelines, large payoffs to corrupted officials, lots of money poured into lawyers, and the ability to disappear when things get hot. The purpose of using a cipher is to create a last line of defense in the case that your information pipeline is compromised.

Given that murder has no statute of limitations, he would have been equally stupid to use a more secure cryto but with unsecured channels. Even if it took the police 10 years to decrypt his message, they could still drag him into court and nail him.

Heavier crypto would have even more problems. Not only would computers be required, but the constant use of such a crypto would ensure that at least some of the keys would eventually be captured by the police. This is almost as bad as using a codebook, something I'm sure this mob-boss was looking to avoid.

His best bet would have been a combination of physical security, with crypto dependent on how sensitive the message was. Sensitivity could easily have been determined by the legal penalty. For example, burning down someone's shop would have been low enough to use a hand cipher. Committing murder, OTOH, would have been sensitive enough to require the use of military grade encryption.

Re:Not very smart (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149470)

Minor correction to myself: The article seems to suggest that he was 8 years old when he dropped out of school, not in 8th grade.

Re:Not very smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149646)

but it does and can. the decoder ring can be usedto create a UNBREAKABLE cipher easily.

using a 1 time pad of numbers you start by advancing the ring for each letter. it just requires you henchmen to have the same ring and same pad.

This was used to make it easy for them to mentially decode it. anything with some strength takes time and effort to decode and thus will not be used with the brainless types of the criminal.

Re:Not very smart (3, Interesting)

Alarash (746254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149702)

Well, to be fair, the guy lived in a stable, and was a grandpa. So I don't think he knew much about algorithms and stuff. But, even if he was a godfather that eluded the police for 43 years, I don't think he's smart. Even if he didn't have any knowledge about cryptology (-graphy? Gee, I never know), he should have hired somebody who did know about it as an "advisor". But then, there's a trust issue, and I'm not sure the poor guy would have survived after he advised on picking the correct encryption system.

Or the godfather just wanted to play it old school all the way thinking it was the way to go. But then again, he lived in a stable.

Well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149404)

So what's the low down on the story? Was his kid sister able to decypher his notes or not?

Journalists these days. :rolleyes:

Please help me pick up my jaw from the desk (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149421)

When I started reading the headline and blurb, I thought "oh he probably used PGP or something". Then my jaw dropped when I read that he was using the Caesar cipher, which is so weak that it can't really even be considered encryption any more. I mean, people on the internet regularly use a variant of it (rot13) to hide movie spoilers.

Even HTTP passwords are better hidden, using base64 by default! Dumbass doesn't even begin to describe this.

Re:Please help me pick up my jaw from the desk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149682)

To be fair, he dropped out of elementary school, and didn't use computers. Encrypting your memos with modern encryption methods gets a bit trickier when all you have is a third-grade education and a typewriter.

High security. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149427)

Also seized from his rooms were records for bookies operations filling several Barbie diaries with real plastic locks, and hit orders folded tightly into paper origami footballs.

Re:High security. (2, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149665)

Also seized from his rooms were records for bookies operations filling several Barbie diaries with real plastic locks, and hit orders folded tightly into paper origami footballs.

Not to mention the little paper fortune tellers that ran the operation.

Ok, ok, will Vito grow up to marry Rick Springfield?

*fwip*fwip*fwip*fwip*fwip

Yes! Oooooh!

What, he couldn't afford a consultant? (1, Troll)

aminorex (141494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149430)

No evil genius he! You would think that a "boss of bosses" -- I guess that makes him a middle manager? -- would have at least an administrative assistant who could tell him he's acting dumb. But then, I guess it doesn't work for Donald Trump either.

Really, there should be a new term for this: Disorganized crime.

Proving once again... (0, Flamebait)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149432)

Security through obscurity doesn't work. (And how much more obscure can you get than a 2,000-year-old-code?)

Actually, what it tells you is to stay in school, kids. This mook dropped out when he was 8.

woof.

Re:Proving once again... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149549)

I hope you are joking if you call caesars cde "obscure".

Just like the wheel or fire, being old doesnt make it obscure or uncommon.
In fact, everybody who ever looked at the puzzle page of a newspaper will know it and how to break it...

Re:Proving once again... (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149590)

no, but security through hiding in the mountains and controlling the influence of the entire mob apparently works pretty well -- he was hidden for almost his whole adult life.

I AM.... (4, Funny)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149433)

your kid sister you insensitive clod!

He should've at least read (3, Interesting)

gregarican (694358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149445)

this book [simonsingh.com] . I found it an enjoyable yet educational walk through the history of encoding/decoding. Cool stuff. I guess Sicilian mobsters typically aren't Mensa members...

Re:He should've at least read (1)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149545)

Seconded. Especially for the puzzles in the back. I had a great time doing one of them the hard way by making a crappy frequency analysis [wikipedia.org] graph (pictured in the wikipedia article).

The only bad part was the amount of hypothetical "Adam" and "Eve" style in there, which was a bit of a shock to someone used to code and grammar books which just bluntly state their points.

Realistically, though, I would never have taken the time to learn those basics of cryptography if the level had been much higher, so it's highly recommended.

Kahn Do. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149619)

Snort some Kahn [amazon.co.uk] . You'll love it. Might be a bit redundant if you've just read Singh, but when you get the urge to reread Singh, go Kahn instead.

Re:He should've at least read (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149777)

Check out his TV show - probably floating around the internet somewhere. 6-part series about the history of cryptography. Neat stuff, probably doubly so if you've read the book.

OK , he doesn't know cryptography... (5, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149452)

... but it still took the police almost 50 years to catch him
so he must've been doing something right. I imagine the ceaser
code was simply to prevent other knuckle dragging criminals from
understanding the message, not a load of top crypto crackers
at police HQ.

Re:OK , he doesn't know cryptography... (3, Insightful)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149595)

but it still took the police almost 50 years to catch him

That my friend is probably due to the social engineering skills of his organisation. Probably a combination of convincing, bribing, forcing, scaring etc...

Re:OK , he doesn't know cryptography... (1)

slashflood (697891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149782)

OK, he doesn't know cryptography but it still took the police almost 50 years to catch him so he must've been doing something right.

I don't know. Maybe it isn't a coincidence that this guy has been cought just after Berlusconi lost the election.

This is why you outsource. (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149476)

This is a good example of when you should outsource. If your business is not security, you should get security consultants to give you advice on securing your communications. Even the paranoid can hire multiple unrelated consultants and compare their recommendations. If they had done this, they might be using something out of date, but at least it would help. For example, no one would still recommend PGP 2.3 with 512 bit RSA keys, but it would have at least been an improvement over this.

This is also an example of where business continuity plans come into play. Organized crime has more risks than most businesses, so it's important to mitigate against those risks. The organization needs to ensure that individual members are complying with the security guidelines. I would expect the mafia to have a cement boot policy for people who leave incriminating, poorly encrypted data available. This data should have been encrypted and stored in a mafia run data center. There's simply no excuse for such pitiful data security in any organization.

Gee... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149512)

At least he could've gone fancy and use a Secret Decoder Wheel or something.

Showing your hand: word to the wise-guys (3, Interesting)

thomn8r (635504) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149525)

Now, right this minute, every other mobster is in a mad rush to implement a real crypto scheme. The cops, for the sake of some PR, have pretty much guaranteed that it will be harder to decode such communications in the future.

There was an American mobster a few years ago who did something using PGP, and the only way the FBI were able to crack it was to bug his keyboard http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/12/06/mafia_tria l_to_test_fbi/ [theregister.co.uk]

How many letters are in the alphabet? (0, Redundant)

smaerd (954708) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149530)

"A" is 4, "B" is 5, "C" is 6 and so on until the letter Z , which corresponds to number 24," wrote Palazzolo and Oliva.

Apparently Palazzolo and Oliva can't add.

zkdw d gxpedvv

Re:How many letters are in the alphabet? (1, Redundant)

bano (410) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149645)

The Italian alphabet only uses 24 letters.

Re:How many letters are in the alphabet? (3, Informative)

yppasswd (538509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149652)

Perhaps. Or, more probably, Italian alphabet only has 21 letters [unilang.org] . As a side note, you live in US, don't you?

Re:How many letters are in the alphabet? (1)

morie (227571) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149704)

They also state that the italian alphabet only uses 21 letters.

Re:How many letters are in the alphabet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149735)

In TFA, they say the Italian alphabet has 21 characters. So actually, they can add. Too bad you cant read.

Re:How many letters are in the alphabet? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149736)

Apparently Palazzolo and Oliva can't add.

You need to RTFA. He was using the Italian alphabet, which only contains 21 letters. With an offset of +3, the last letter would be '24'.

In other news: He came free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149533)

...because the evidence couldn't be used after it was found that the prosecutors broke his encryption without permission.

Keep my kid sister out!? Impressive! (4, Funny)

2short (466733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149535)

"Discovery's cryptography expert describes it as a code that 'will keep your kid sister out'."

Considering my kid sister is a mathematician at NSA... Hmm, maybe he meant a hypothetical kid sister?

Re:Keep my kid sister out!? Impressive! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149621)

Tell her I said "xibu jt zpvs ovncfs?"

Re:Keep my kid sister out!? Impressive! (1)

scovetta (632629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149647)

Nice caesar cipher (n -> n+1). What are you, some kind of mafia boss?

Re:Keep my kid sister out!? Impressive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149730)

No. I'm certain he meant your exact sister.

Technomoron (1)

Fitzghon (578350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149546)

This is the first article I have ever tagged "technomoron".
I think it is appropriate.

Better headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149548)

Crime Capo Caught Cribbing Caesar Ciper

h4x0r (2, Funny)

mdboyd (969169) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149552)

Looks like the mafia boss was pretty 1337 ;)

Didn't need crazy encryption (3, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149563)

Odds are if you were holding one of the Godfather's messages long enough to decipher it, that means you had to get it from someone in the mafia. They took these from him, which is one thing. Of course you can do that if you're the police/fbi/etc. and you've captured the boss. If you're just some shmoe, you can break the code all you want, the boss is still coming after you.

Note to self: (1)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149570)

Do not keep copies of orders to henchmen after their execution.

Now that this is taken care of, I'll order my henchmen to stop keeping logs of our communications.

The article is misleading (1)

Gzlegobrath (878391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149573)

I read about this in the local newspaper a few days ago. Their angle was that because he used small pieces of paper as the only means of communication he was able to prevent being caught by the police (implying that had he used modern technology it would have been much easier for the police intercept his messages and catch him). That article didn't even bother mentioning his use of "cryptography".

And the secret message is... (4, Funny)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149591)

Be sure to drink your ovaltine?!

Re:And the secret message is... (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149779)

Come on someone has to mod that funny!

Must have taken after the Italians from WWII (1)

rockhome (97505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149597)

The Italians used some of the worst cipher systems during the war, and were pretty easy to break.

Oh, if only he could have gotten his hands on a 4-rotor steckered Enigma. At least that would have stood up for a day or 2.

Best cipher is no match for bad practices. (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149607)

There's all sorts of ciphers that could be used. Unfortunately, usually the weak points are not the system but the people. In this case the cipher was easy to crack. But you could have an almost unbeatable system like a one-time pad like the Soviets used during the Cold War. However, low level lackeys re-used the pads, allowing the US to break some of their messages. During WWII, German coders did things like not changing the daily cipher key or sending the same message at the same time every day but using a different cipher.

Unless.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149614)

Discovery's cryptography expert describes it as a code that 'will keep your kid sister out'."

Hah, unless your kid sister is an italian police officer.

mafia speak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149617)

He should have only spoke to the guy about the thing thats going down you-know-when as soon as you-know-who brings the stuff in from the place.

What's up with the annoying alliteration? (1)

Doom bucket (888726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149634)

"Crook Crypto Captured"?

Come on guys, this isn't Townsville Local Newspaper. Really.

More alliteration please (1)

v8interceptor (586130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149635)

How about: Corleone-like Crook Captured: Crap Caeser Crypto

DMCA to the rescue!!! (2, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149639)

Thanks to the DMCA, he does not need to have a strong cypher, since this law makes it illegal to decrypt it anyways!!!

The code wasn't why he got caught. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149655)

He got caught because of good police work. He sent his laundry home to get washed and then the clean laundry was returned to him. The cops just followed the package with the laundry in it.

As for not being very smart; the guy stayed out of the cops' hands for 40 years. He must have had something going for him. Running a mob is best done with a wink and a nod anyway. That way if your henchman gets caught murdering someone, you can deny any knowledge. Sadly, that's also the way a good politician works. The guy at the top of the chain never delivers a clear order to do anything questionable. His aides just understand his wishes and carry them out. That way he (like several presidents of the USofA for example) has plausible deniability.

Any coded message can be decoded eventually. Coding it just buys you a bit of time.

Yeah this guy must be really dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15149670)

He only managed to evade capture for 40 years. Maybe if he had used better crypto he could have died before he was caught.

like corporations... (3, Funny)

Hatte (862605) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149706)

Even the mafia has its PHBoB's.

From TFA (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149713)

"Now we will have to work on the newly discovered pizzini, which contain several coded names." With a highly trained detective working round the clock, that should take oh, 45 minutes or so.

Re:From TFA (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149747)

dammit. stupid html tags.

It's possible (1)

courtarro (786894) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149746)

Maybe he used a simple cipher because he wanted the codes to be cracked. Now the police have been arresting his enemies because he "secretly" mentioned them in his letters.

Oh my! (1)

mukund (163654) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149751)

And they're worried about terrorists using modern cryptographic alogrithms... ;)

But seriously, though these guys were bad, I'm surprised how much the old world still hangs on to what they believe is "tried and tested" stuff which is outdated and vulnerable. If these guys had any PGP/GPG user, he'd have laughed at caesar subsitution (and showed a copy of bsdgames). Some people in parts of the world use strong harmful "natural" medicine (with little effect but other harmful side effects --- note: many natural medicines are not bad), or useless medicines (quackery) are used in the belief that it'll work.

I'd sure hate to be... (1)

gwayne (306174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149752)

the mafia IT guy that recommended that cipher to the Godfather...

Mob lackey: Heya, yous got a computa problem ova he'.

IT guy: Where?

Mob lackey: Down in da basement.

IT guy: Down th..

Mob lackey: [gunshot rings...]

Nice alliteration in the title, but... (1)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15149778)

...easily topped with "Crime Captain Corresponded with Crappy Crypto, Consequently Captured"
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