Deciphering 50 Secret Letters from Mary Queen of Scots 1578-1584 with Modern Algorithms


Dr. George Lasry will present his groundbreaking discovery and deciphering of 50 letters from Mary Queen of Scot, together with Norbert Biermann and Satoshi Tomokiyo. He will describe the cipher, and the tools and algorithms the team used to crack the code and decipher more than 50 letters they discovered in the French National Library, previously thought to have been lost. Those letters are considered by historians to be the most important find on Mary Queen of Scot for more than 100 years, and this research demonstrates how modern computer techniques can help unlock historical secrets. This discovery has been covered by worldwide media, including the BBC, New York Times, Der Spiegel, and many others.


George Lasry is a computer scientist in the high-tech industry and a member of the DECRYPT Project. He obtained his Ph.D. with the Applied Information Security research group at the Universityof Kassel. He specializes in cracking historical ciphers. In 2013, he solved the Double Transposition cipher challenge. He also deciphered papal ciphers from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries; French homophonic ciphers from the 16th and 17th centuries; German ADFGVX ciphertexts and diplomatic codes from World War I; World War II messages encrypted using the German Siemens and Halske T52 teleprinter encryption device; and transposition ciphers from the Biafran War in the late 1960s.