Researcher Cracks Embedded Code In U.S. Cyber Command Seal

Sean-Paul Correll, a security researcher with Spain-based Panda Security, said that the jumble of numbers and letters on the U.S. Cyber Command (Cybercom) emblem was in actuality a hash code.

The seal, representing the year-old U.S. Cyber Command, charged with protecting U.S. networks from cyber attack, contained a 32-digit code -- 9ec4c1294a4f31474f299058ce2b22a -- which turned out to be the MD5 hash of the agency's mission statement.

Correll, who said he cracked the code around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, told ComputerWorldthat decoding the hash "wasn't very difficult."

When decoded, the emblem reads "USCYBERCOM plans, coordinates, integrates, synchronizes and conducts activities to: direct the operations and defense of specific Department of Defense information networks and: prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries."

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Meanwhile, Correll had some help from Wired, which first published the rambling string of serial numbers. The magazine then enticed interested readers to crack the code by offering the choice between a free t-shirt or a ticket to the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Correll said that he figured it out an hour after Wired published the string of numbers for its challenge.

Cybercom was created in June 2009 with the approval of Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an effort to strengthen and secure U.S. computer infrastructure, targeting everyone from petty hackers to international cyber spies and hostile governments intent on infiltrating U.S. computers system to steal data or disrupt systems. The organization is led by Lt. Gen Keith Alexander, who is also the director of the National Security Agency.