Date of Award
Dr. Eric Landquist
Before computers, military tacticians and government agents had to rely on pencil-and-paper methods to encrypt information. For agents that want to use low-tech options in order to minimize their digital footprint, non-computerized ciphers are an essential component of their toolbox. Still, the presence of computers limits the pool of effective hand ciphers. If a cipher is not unpredictable enough, then a computer will easily be able to break it. There are 52! ≈ 2^225.58 ways to mix a deck of cards. If each deck order is a key, this means that there are 52! ≈ 2^225.58 different ways to encrypt a given message. To create some perspective, most computer ciphers feature either 2^128 or 2^256 different ways of encrypting the same message. Hence, a cipher created from a deck of cards has the potential to emulate the security of many computer ciphers. Dr. Landquist and I spent the summer of 2019 examining existing playing card ciphers. This led to the main focus of this paper: the creation of a unique, secure playing card cipher. Because of the inspiration provided by the cipher VIC, I am calling our original cipher VICCard. VICCard has gone through multiple versions, each better than the last. Its security is rooted in its combination of numerous cryptographic principles, including a substitution checkerboard, columnar transpositions, lagged Fibonacci generators, and junk letters. As evidenced by certain randomness tests, VICCard has the potential to extensively randomize an English plaintext.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Reiter, Isaac A., "Analyzing and Creating Playing Card Cryptosystems" (2021). Honors Student Research. 5.