A third instalment of the infamous internet puzzle appeared over the weekend, this time featuring William Blake, Masonic stars and a promise of ‘enlightenment’
Wanted: willing puzzle fans to help solve the internet’s most complicated and enduring mystery. Only those conversant in hexidecimal cryptology, medieval Welsh poetry and classical music theory – among many others – need apply.
After a 12 month hiatus, Cicada 3301 – a complex collection of anonymously-set puzzles, without apparent purpose, that have nevertheless held thousands of amateur web sleuths rapt – has made a reappearance.
Now another set of posers has appeared during the first week of 2014, and this year its different. Such widespread coverage had led some commentators to wonder if, like the insect itself, the organisation might be scared back underground.
Worse, some feared it might lead to widespread “trolling” – hoaxers trying to pass off their own puzzles as legitimate Cicada tests, further muddying the water.
Indeed, the first week of January has seen dozens of messages appearing on messageboards purporting to be from Cicada – some of which were elaborate enough to be believable. And yet all of which have been proved fake.
Until, that is, just before 11pm on January 5th. A Twitter account previously used by the Cicada organisation released a message, bearing the faint image of a cicada, to its 700 followers.
“Hello,” it read. “Epiphany is upon you. Your pilgrimage has begun. Enlightenment awaits. Good luck. 3301.”
Enthusiasts have since confirmed the message has the necessary PGP signature – a common encryption method used for privacy – to prove it is legitimately from Cicada 3301.