I am looking for talented Ph.D. students to work on the following topics:
To apply, please send to email@example.com the following material:
Is sending a bunch of PDFs via email too boring for you? Would you like to spice a little bit up your application? Say no more; I got you covered!
Below are three string tokens, each hiding a secret text message. Your goal is to find the text message and follow the additional application submission instructions in it. Following these new instructions is the only requirement to prove you got the solution.
There are three difficulty levels (easy, mid and hard). It is your choice to decide how many and which challenges to solve. However, consider that the complexity of the challenges is incremental and solving one will help in solving the next one. Be aware that solving the challenges takes time. Depending on your skillset, solving all challenges may take about one hour.
IMPORTANT: Solving these challenges is not required for a successful application. This means that not solving or failing to solve the challenges will not disqualify your application from full consideration. The challenges are only for fun.
Said that, behold the three challenges:
Challenge #1: easy
Challenge #2: mid
Challenge #3: hard
What follows is meant for those of you who fought hard and now need a bit of help. For the rest of you, go away! :)
Very well. In general, when encapsulating coding algorithms, the outer one is meant for transportation and security is not a significant concern. Said that, have you tried to decode the string with the "obvious" algorithm?
I see. Still stuck. Very well. Here, I assume that the decoding of Challenge #1 is not working. After all, it would have been too easy that way, am I right? :) This time you may want to have a look at alternatives. Have you considered having a look at the alphabet of the encoding? For example, have you noticed that this string is case insensitive? Also, did you see that symbols that may confuse a human are not present ("0" vs "O", "1" vs "I")? Mmh... what that could be?
That's a valid and legitimate URL. So...
Mmh. I feel the struggle. If you attended a 101 lecture on cryptography, this should be a piece of cake. If not, I say only two things: Julius Ceasar and mirrors.