An Automatic Cryptanalysis of Transposition Ciphers Using Compression

  • Noor R. Al-Kazaz
  • Sean A. Irvine
  • William J. Teahan
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10052)


Automatically recognising valid decryptions as a result of ciphertext only cryptanalysis of simple ciphers is not an easy issue and still considered as a taxing problem. In this paper, we present a new universal compression-based approach to the automatic cryptanalysis of transposition ciphers. In particular, we show how a Prediction by Partial Matching (PPM) compression model, a scheme that performs well at many language modelling tasks, can be used to automatically recognise the valid decrypt with a 100 % success rate. We also show how it significantly outperforms another compression scheme, Gzip. In this paper, we propose a full mechanism for the automatic cryptanalysis of transposition ciphers which also automatically adds spaces to decrypted texts, again using a compression-based approach, in order to achieve readability.


Cryptanalysis Transposition ciphers Plaintext recognition Compression PPM Word segmentation 



The authors would like to thank the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR)-Baghdad University-College of science for women for supporting (sponsoring) this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noor R. Al-Kazaz
    • 1
  • Sean A. Irvine
    • 1
  • William J. Teahan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceBangor UniversityBangor, GwyneddUK

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