“Call of Duty: Black Ops” Codes Finally Cracked?

Hey, remember those number codes you see throughout “Call of Duty: Black Ops”? Everybody knew they meant something, but nobody was sure what. Nerds being nerds, lots of codebreaking techniques were applied to them, but nothing really worked…at least until somebody remembered their cryptography history.

Way before you kids with your hash algorithms and pseudo-random number generators, the way you encoded messages was with a one-time pad, essentially a series of random letters. You converted the letters on the one-time pad and the message to numbers, subtracted each number (modulo 26, of course) and came up with a string of digits that could be turned into letters that actually made sense. Also used (especially in this case), but less secure, would be a book or printed item as a one-time pad.

Look, I’ve read Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon” something like twenty times: you pick this stuff up.

Anyway, somebody figured out, what with the game casually mentioning John F. Kennedy once or twice, that the key to solving all those number codes was using “Profiles in Courage” with the first number being the page number, using the first letter. Mostly it’s just some fairly clever foreshadowing, but there are a few hints of what might be going on elsewhere in the CoD games. Check it out for yourself.