N. Korea airs another encrypted number broadcast

krzepice1976

DEFCON Staff
Staff member
27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea aired a broadcast of encrypted numbers on Friday, apparently aiming at sending messages to spies operating in the South.

The coded radio broadcast began at 1:15 a.m. by the North's propaganda radio station Radio Pyongyang. It lasted for 5 minutes.
The announcer then said, "On page 428 number 51, on page 192 number 33, on page 260 number 41," followed by more numbers. The latest batch of numbers were the same as the broadcast made on Jan. 13.

http://m.yna.co.kr/mob2/en/contents_en.jsp?cid=AEN20170127001200315&domain=3&ctype=A&site=0100000000
 

Doc

Well-known member
Drumboy44 said:
Has anyone been able to find out what could these broadcasts be for or why they could be doing it?
Doc said:
What do you think? Any insite?


Does that :?: mean you are asking me? If so, I have no knowledge on operations on the Korean peninsula at all. The closest I have been to Korea is The Philippines.

An educated guess? I lack the proper education. We need the cryptologist, not me. I'm the company clown. A simple guess, then? Ok. Might be fun.

Probably bullshit. 428 pages with at least 51 codes on each? 21828 cosmic top secret codes carried by every agent? Really? What happens when one is compromized? A new book of 428 pages? Will there be trees left in North Korea to hide the silos? And how many functions do these supermen have since they need tens of thousands of codes? And pages? What's the format? PDF? WordPerfect 2.0? Paper? Scrolls?

When this operative has to hastily dispose of the codebook he will need to bake it in SSam Jang at 225 degrees for 20 mintues, prepare a gallon of BBQ-sauce and 8 bottles of a nice Chianti. Each agent would need a designated combat-chef and a Gulash-cannon. "How we knew he was a spy, your honour? Well, he was walking around Soul singing out of key with a thousand half eaten pages under his arm. His last word as we shot him was "Buurrp"."

This is a Hollywood transmission. It's overobviously meant to be percieved as code. Aimed at the neurotic journalists of the enemy (SK). Or stupid intel-people. Fake "special messages" (directly translated) can be used to bind up the codebreakers of the enemy on a goose-hunt and make finding the real ones harder. That can be quite fun. But then you make it as believable as possible or almost identical to the real code.

One SOE-example from WWII to illustrate: London radio would announce every day that Santa was doing something. Washing the curtains. Building toys. Doing laundry. Shagging mrs Santa. Raping an elf (I told you it was fun! Cant you just picture Gestapo going "Zanta iz raaping elf? Elf what?). These messages meant nothing. (Except to the elf who was found crying in the shower.)

Then one day London announced that Santa was watering his rose-bushes. That meant large cigar-shaped objects would be falling gently from the skies at a designated position at a given time. If Santa was watering his tulips, they would fall at a second location. If the drop was postponed due to weather, Santa's rosebushes was blooming. In said containers were cash, fake papers, limpets, weapons, ammo - and cigarettes and Rom with a note from Scotland saying:

flyslipp.jpg

Hang in there lads!

A more recent example perhaps? Of how to make special messages blend into a regular civilian background? As would be smart if the North Koreans were indeed sending messages? Ok.

Every week has a resturant day. Week two could be "Hey, its me! Let's eat at Jimmys burgershot tonight.". And then you do. Week three is "Cherrypoppers icebar". And you go there. Week four is "Fat dolly's overweight chicken-shit". You eat Dollys shit that week, even though the stuff grows in your mouth.

Somewhere in this chaos of no star resteurants a phone call comes: "Let's go out tonight. I feel like Ping Pong Pizza!". That one would not be about food. But that would be hard to tell for anyone on the outside. Even a skilled cryptologist might not understand that he is listening to code at all.

Unless you botch it and include your own stupid code. Such as: "Wonder if my pizza will taste better with cheese or macaroni." Which would be the equivalent of proudly bringing your new tuba to a well planned duckhunt.

You might get off the hook, though, if noone is around to recognize a code constructed by an idiot against the background of a rather clever one. Or you can hire conspiracy theorists to spin it into a proof of extra-flat terrestial tin-foil-free energy.

***

The only serious thing I can think up is that the numbers might be real. Positions? Times? The ciffers follow the pattern 3+2, 3+2. If other transmissions do that as well, that might be mean something. Grid-index codes? Page being x-axis and number being y? Camoflaged with bullocks to make someone think exactly what I wrote? Then again, why not camoflage their shit completely? Or at least better? To avoid defconwarningsystems.com starting to speculate at all?

"Welcome to our glorius transmission. My name is Welly Thin and I will be your comrade tonight. I bring news of outstanding achievements. For the 41st time this week, our great leader Kim gave birth to a sinking cable 43 cm long. That would be 32 N orth korean inches. It's the most magnificent cable ever produced since the people's toiletfestival of year 49 (after the peoples revolution), in which a total of 56.49 meters of cable was produced by collective farm W"

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I think its starting to show. :D Anyone else wanna have a go?
 

Navarro

Power Poster
I've always found it interesting that MSS number broadcasts don't more precisely follow the conventions utilized by the world community. It's a testament to DPRK's determination to be different. Yet, it's also a testament to the futility of that effort. The broadcasts are unique, but in a very shallow sense. They're just standard groups of five numbers. Despite the way it may seem, given "page 428," I suspect these messages are OTP. It would make no sense to utilize anything else. MSS approximates the rest of the world's methods by use of five number groups. I'm sure they utilize OTP as well.

Of course, it should be noted that DPRK is very obvious about the broadcast, and the approximation. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that these particular broadcasts are nonsense intended to attract and distract. After all, as often as tunnels have been discovered, DPRK could be hand-walking everything across the border. Number broadcasts do fit DPRK's antiquated style though, and even US still utilizes them. I suspect PRC's looking to finally revolutionize this mode of communication though, given its quantum communication initiatives to include a satellite. Still, MSS no doubt utilizes more modern methods as well, such as Wi-Fi hotspots and Tor.

As to the content of the message being repeatedly transmitted by numbers broadcast, that's anyone's guess. Other intelligence services do that as well. Could be MSS hasn't received a response yet, nothing heard, due to that asset being compromised, or dead. Could be a mission repeat. Could be a status update, where nothing's changed. It could be the time, date, frequency or other aspect of the message which is important, not the message itself. Could just be a nonsense distraction. Could be a lot of things.
Doc said:
When this operative has to hastily dispose of the codebook he will need to bake it in SSam Jang at 225 degrees for 20 mintues, prepare a gallon of BBQ-sauce and 8 bottles of a nice Chianti. Each agent would need a designated combat-chef and a Gulash-cannon. "How we knew he was a spy, your honour? Well, he was walking around Soul singing out of key with a thousand half eaten pages under his arm. His last word as we shot him was "Buurrp"."
You mean spies don't really eat their OTPs? I'll bet real spies like 007 do! :lol:
 

Doc

Well-known member
Navarro said:
I've always found it interesting that MSS number broadcasts don't more precisely follow the conventions utilized by the world community. It's a testament to DPRK's determination to be different. Yet, it's also a testament to the futility of that effort. The broadcasts are unique, but in a very shallow sense.

Reading the above line made me think of that bridge in Berlin, so you are right, there is something about them. Like green olds school tattoos, they carry an antiquated museum-quality.
MSS approximates the rest of the world's methods by use of five number groups.

I didn't understand that. Might be my failing english. Would you care to elaborate? Does Approximate in this context mean a sub standard copy? If so I understand. I wasn't aware that OTPs would nessesarily be 5 digits. Makes sense, then. Makes me wonder how they secure their agents against forced transmissions. Would be interesting to know.
Of course, it should be noted that DPRK is very obvious about the broadcast, and the approximation. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that these particular broadcasts are nonsense intended to attract and distract. After all, as often as tunnels have been discovered, DPRK could be hand-walking everything across the border. Number broadcasts do fit DPRK's antiquated style though, and even US still utilizes them. I suspect PRC's looking to finally revolutionize this mode of communication though, given its quantum communication initiatives to include a satellite. Still, MSS no doubt utilizes more modern methods as well, such as Wi-Fi hotspots and Tor.

Even I know about Tor. I hope you are aware, though, that something happened to it some months ago.
As to the content of the message being repeatedly transmitted by numbers broadcast, that's anyone's guess. Other intelligence services do that as well. Could be MSS hasn't received a response yet, nothing heard, due to that asset being compromised, or dead. Could be a mission repeat. Could be a status update, where nothing's changed. It could be the time, date, frequency or other aspect of the message which is important, not the message itself. Could just be a nonsense distraction. Could be a lot of things.

You could to some extent analyze the data pattern couldn't you, even if you don't know the content? As with measuring the number of drops and numers of calls, substantial traffic means substantial activity (thats why you need the Santa-screen saver). I would expect MSS agents in the south to have been trained to operate rather autonomously? Would they need that many orders? (Open question. I am not an SIGNINT analyst).
Doc said:
When this operative has to hastily dispose of the codebook he will need to bake it in SSam Jang at 225 degrees for 20 mintues, prepare a gallon of BBQ-sauce and 8 bottles of a nice Chianti. Each agent would need a designated combat-chef and a Gulash-cannon. "How we knew he was a spy, your honour? Well, he was walking around Soul singing out of key with a thousand half eaten pages under his arm. His last word as we shot him was "Buurrp"."
You mean spies don't really eat their OTPs? I'll bet real spies like 007 do! :lol:

I actually borrowed that from a graduation-show I once was a part of. It's set in an old Soviet office and behind the desk is a man in NKVD uniform. A clerk enters.

- "Comrade Polkovnik, Agent Boris is transmitting. He is surrounded. What are your orders?"
- "Have him eat his codes!"
- "All 12 leather binds, sir?"
- "Yes(testvenno), comrade"


[...]

- "Comrade Polkovnik! Boris is down!"
- "Inform his wife he is now a hero of the Soviet Union! He will never be forgotten! We will engrave his last words on his monument. What were they?"
- "Burp."


RiffRaff said:
Doc said:
Anyone else wanna have a go?

On my best day I could not hope to compete with that insomnia-induced masterpiece, so I shall not even try, sir. :D

I Thank you sir. I have slept quite well now.

Im curious, though. Did you find the boat? Even though I inadvertently repeated the f*ckup of that night?
 

Navarro

Power Poster
Doc said:
I didn't understand that.
Referring to the length of the number groups. Five characters is the typical length of a number group. I'm saying MSS has applied this standard to its transmissions.
Doc said:
I wasn't aware that OTPs would nessesarily be 5 digits.
The OTP isn't five digits. The codes are broken into groups of five. The OTP covers the full message.
Doc said:
Even I know about Tor. I hope you are aware, though, that something happened to it some months ago.
It's not important that you know about it. That doesn't detract from its usefulness. Despite that Tor is a USIC asset and is in no way secure, it's known to be utilized by entities within DPRK. Whether or not MSS utilizes it, and whether or not it's the DPRK government being detected utilizing Tor, I can't say. Even if MSS doesn't utilize Tor for this purpose, it could utilize another form of proxy/anonymizer. The extra layer of security is advantageous.
Doc said:
You could to some extent analyze the data pattern couldn't you, even if you don't know the content? As with measuring the number of drops and numers of calls, substantial traffic means substantial activity (thats why you need the Santa-screen saver). I would expect MSS agents in the south to have been trained to operate rather autonomously? Would they need that many orders? (Open question. I am not an SIGNINT analyst).
Yes you could analyze the patterns involved, and also look for external correlations. Signal analysis can be utilized with any group of signals.
Doc said:
I actually borrowed that from a graduation-show I once was a part of.
Strange show.
Zer0 said:
Is it safe to assume these codes are broadcasted or transmitted prior to a nuclear detonation or test?
No.
 

RiffRaff

Deputy Director
Staff member
Doc said:
RiffRaff said:
Doc said:
Anyone else wanna have a go?

On my best day I could not hope to compete with that insomnia-induced masterpiece, so I shall not even try, sir. :D

I Thank you sir. I have slept quite well now.

Im curious, though. Did you find the boat? Even though I inadvertently repeated the f*ckup of that night?


:?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?:
 

Drumboy44

DEFCON Staff
Staff member
Doc said:
Drumboy44 said:
Has anyone been able to find out what could these broadcasts be for or why they could be doing it?
Doc said:
What do you think? Any insite?


Does that :?: mean you are asking me? If so, I have no knowledge on operations on the Korean peninsula at all. The closest I have been to Korea is The Philippines.

An educated guess? I lack the proper education. We need the cryptologist, not me. I'm the company clown. A simple guess, then? Ok. Might be fun.

Probably bullshit. 428 pages with at least 51 codes on each? 21828 cosmic top secret codes carried by every agent? Really? What happens when one is compromized? A new book of 428 pages? Will there be trees left in North Korea to hide the silos? And how many functions do these supermen have since they need tens of thousands of codes? And pages? What's the format? PDF? WordPerfect 2.0? Paper? Scrolls?

When this operative has to hastily dispose of the codebook he will need to bake it in SSam Jang at 225 degrees for 20 mintues, prepare a gallon of BBQ-sauce and 8 bottles of a nice Chianti. Each agent would need a designated combat-chef and a Gulash-cannon. "How we knew he was a spy, your honour? Well, he was walking around Soul singing out of key with a thousand half eaten pages under his arm. His last word as we shot him was "Buurrp"."

This is a Hollywood transmission. It's overobviously meant to be percieved as code. Aimed at the neurotic journalists of the enemy (SK). Or stupid intel-people. Fake "special messages" (directly translated) can be used to bind up the codebreakers of the enemy on a goose-hunt and make finding the real ones harder. That can be quite fun. But then you make it as believable as possible or almost identical to the real code.

One SOE-example from WWII to illustrate: London radio would announce every day that Santa was doing something. Washing the curtains. Building toys. Doing laundry. Shagging mrs Santa. Raping an elf (I told you it was fun! Cant you just picture Gestapo going "Zanta iz raaping elf? Elf what?). These messages meant nothing. (Except to the elf who was found crying in the shower.)

Then one day London announced that Santa was watering his rose-bushes. That meant large cigar-shaped objects would be falling gently from the skies at a designated position at a given time. If Santa was watering his tulips, they would fall at a second location. If the drop was postponed due to weather, Santa's rosebushes was blooming. In said containers were cash, fake papers, limpets, weapons, ammo - and cigarettes and Rom with a note from Scotland saying:

flyslipp.jpg

Hang in there lads!

A more recent example perhaps? Of how to make special messages blend into a regular civilian background? As would be smart if the North Koreans were indeed sending messages? Ok.

Every week has a resturant day. Week two could be "Hey, its me! Let's eat at Jimmys burgershot tonight.". And then you do. Week three is "Cherrypoppers icebar". And you go there. Week four is "Fat dolly's overweight chicken-shit". You eat Dollys shit that week, even though the stuff grows in your mouth.

Somewhere in this chaos of no star resteurants a phone call comes: "Let's go out tonight. I feel like Ping Pong Pizza!". That one would not be about food. But that would be hard to tell for anyone on the outside. Even a skilled cryptologist might not understand that he is listening to code at all.

Unless you botch it and include your own stupid code. Such as: "Wonder if my pizza will taste better with cheese or macaroni." Which would be the equivalent of proudly bringing your new tuba to a well planned duckhunt.

You might get off the hook, though, if noone is around to recognize a code constructed by an idiot against the background of a rather clever one. Or you can hire conspiracy theorists to spin it into a proof of extra-flat terrestial tin-foil-free energy.

***

The only serious thing I can think up is that the numbers might be real. Positions? Times? The ciffers follow the pattern 3+2, 3+2. If other transmissions do that as well, that might be mean something. Grid-index codes? Page being x-axis and number being y? Camoflaged with bullocks to make someone think exactly what I wrote? Then again, why not camoflage their shit completely? Or at least better? To avoid defconwarningsystems.com starting to speculate at all?

"Welcome to our glorius transmission. My name is Welly Thin and I will be your comrade tonight. I bring news of outstanding achievements. For the 41st time this week, our great leader Kim gave birth to a sinking cable 43 cm long. That would be 32 N orth korean inches. It's the most magnificent cable ever produced since the people's toiletfestival of year 49 (after the peoples revolution), in which a total of 56.49 meters of cable was produced by collective farm W"

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I think its starting to show. :D Anyone else wanna have a go?


:lol: wow that's a lot to take in.

I found one one possible answer..
hqdefault.jpg
 

Doc

Well-known member
RiffRaff said:
Doc said:
RiffRaff said:
On my best day I could not hope to compete with that insomnia-induced masterpiece, so I shall not even try, sir. :D

I Thank you sir. I have slept quite well now.

Im curious, though. Did you find the boat? Even though I inadvertently repeated the f*ckup of that night?


:?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?:

I hid a boat in my example of North Korean transmissions. Just for fun. Fun is important, Beautiful-mind-fun. (Yes, I am a nerd.)
 

RiffRaff

Deputy Director
Staff member
Doc said:
RiffRaff said:
Doc said:
I Thank you sir. I have slept quite well now.

Im curious, though. Did you find the boat? Even though I inadvertently repeated the f*ckup of that night?


:?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?:

I hid a boat in my example of North Korean transmissions. Just for fun. Fun is important, Beautiful-mind-fun. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

Ummmmm....
Doc said:
"Welcome to our glorius transmission. My name is Welly Thin and I will be your comrade tonight. I bring news of outstanding achievements. For the 41st time this week, our great leader Kim gave birth to a sinking cable 43 cm long. That would be 32 N orth korean inches. It's the most magnificent cable ever produced since the people's toiletfestival of year 49 (after the peoples revolution), in which a total of 56.49 meters of cable was produced by collective farm W"

43 cm x 32 in x 56.49 m = a scaled down model of Noah's Ark?? Not sure. Is a cubit an imperial or metric measurement?
 

Doc

Well-known member
RiffRaff said:
Doc said:
RiffRaff said:
:?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?: :?:

I hid a boat in my example of North Korean transmissions. Just for fun. Fun is important, Beautiful-mind-fun. (Yes, I am a nerd.)

Ummmmm....
Doc said:
"Welcome to our glorius transmission. My name is Welly Thin and I will be your comrade tonight. I bring news of outstanding achievements. For the 41st time this week, our great leader Kim gave birth to a sinking cable 43 cm long. That would be 32 N orth korean inches. It's the most magnificent cable ever produced since the people's toiletfestival of year 49 (after the peoples revolution), in which a total of 56.49 meters of cable was produced by collective farm W"

43 cm x 32 in x 56.49 m = a scaled down model of Noah's Ark?? Not sure. Is a cubit an imperial or metric measurement?

Key: "sinking cable"

Position: 41 43 32 N - 49 56 49 W (reversed, I know)

:geek:

My silly point on topic: If you wanted to hide numbers in a broadcast, you would hide them in sports, right?

"...during a 20500 meter Dash & Crash, comrade ho lee fuk Dislocated his Penile shaft 1600mm to the NorthWest. luckily all comrades present were Quick to give him space."
 

Navarro

Power Poster
RiffRaff said:
Noah's Ark??
Titanic.
Doc said:
"...during a 20500 meter Dash & Crash, comrade ho lee fuk Dislocated his Penile shaft 1600mm to the NorthWest. luckily all comrades present were Quick to give him space."
White House (or POTUS), perhaps same address Q Street, or "be quick." Anyway:

USA/ROK review everything coming out of DPRK. No attempts to conceal any cryptos should go unnoticed. DPRK might as well be blatant.

"The D-Day Daily Telegraph crossword security alarm arose in 1944 when codenames related to the D-Day plans appeared as solutions in crosswords in the popular British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. The inclusion of the codewords was initially suspected by the British Secret Services to be a form of espionage."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-Day_Daily_Telegraph_crossword_security_alarm

If anyone can break this code, I'll be mildly impressed.
 

ThunderStealer

Power Poster
Drumboy44 said:
Has anyone been able to find out what could these broadcasts be for or why they could be doing it?
Doc said:
What do you think? Any insite?
It's called a numbers station. You use a one time pad to send an encrypted, unbreakable message in open air. They're using a book to send their message, it'll be a book in common usage so as to throw off investigators. If not a book, then they have their pad and an SOI to break the code. You'll never crack it. Assume they're sending message related to: kill orders, evacuation orders, stand bye, be ready to leave, the bombs drop on...., money and resources will be at ________, type of stuff.
 

Drumboy44

DEFCON Staff
Staff member
DirtyDevil69 said:
So are we trying to crack it the code here? Or is everyone just having fun now?

From what I've seen and read I conclude there will be more to come in the comes weeks/months. Exactly what it all means? I am not sure. It's got to be NK delivering actions or what have you to there agents.
 
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