It was a short note in a breakout box advising readers how to send tips to newspapers—in this instance, about underpayments in the restaurant industry— that first caught my eye:
Ooh. This is cloak and dagger stuff. I had no idea you should send a ‘confidential and encrypted’ message when contacting journalists. Immediately, I felt the need to investigate how to
#83 Encrypt a message
on the off-chance I ever want to become a whistle-blower.
Back in primary school, it was so simple to send coded messages.
For example, if you wanted to let a friend know, without others finding out, where you’d buried your treasure, you could send a seemingly unhelpful map—
knowing they’d been in the same science class as you, understood the magic of lemon juice and would put the map in their home oven to reveal the location:
But then we graduated to word processors and the level of sophistication increased. Lemon juice was out.
Instead, you could send a friend a seemingly innocent computer message that wouldn’t cause any problems if her mother found it:
Sally, of course, knows there’s a secret message encrypted in this innocuous double-spaced word document, and all she has to do is highlight every blank line and change the white print Alison has used into red print to reveal the true plan:
I’m not suggesting I would ever have done this
In a similar vein, I’ve read work references that on the surface, read positively:
but when decoded—by reading every alternate line instead—reveal an entirely different message
A friend once sent me an email that opened on my iPad looking like this intriguing, encrypted message:
Sadly, when I forwarded it onto my computer at home, it turned out to be totally innocuous:
So I turned to trusty Google to ask ‘How do I encrypt an email?’
Suffice to say that if becoming a whistleblower isn’t frightening enough, try understanding advice given by a computer geek.
But the fabulous news is that, without knowing it, I’m already encrypting my messages:
I knew there was a reason I’ve always been an Apple girl.
Of course, this automatic encryption doesn’t take into account the times when I’m juggling the messaging app between two friends and inadvertently send the message to the wrong person:
I’m beginning to suspect that this world of espionage is not for the fainthearted—or the feebleminded.