How do you solve a Caesar cipher?


Quick Answer

A Caesar cipher is a simple substitution cipher which uses a shifted alphabet. In its simplest form, the letter A" becomes the letter "B", "B" becomes "C," and so on. Solving a Caesar cipher merely requires discovering how many places to shift each letter.

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Full Answer

  1. Select a portion of the cipher to decode

    Since a Caesar cipher uses the same methodology throughout, start by decoding only part of the cipher. If the text is broken up into individual words, select one of at least five or six letters to decode first. If the cipher text is one solid block, begin with the first five or six letters.

  2. Try all possible ciphers

    Begin by shifting each letter one place in the alphabet, and if that does work, move to two places, then three and so on. For instance, if the ciphered text is "JBBQFKD," then one shift to the right produces "KCCRGLE," which is obviously wrong. Two places is "LDDSHMF," which is also incorrect. Three places gives "MEETING," which is a successful decryption.

  3. Apply the cipher to the remainder of the text

    Once you have correctly deciphered a word or two, apply the same rule to the rest of the ciphered message. When solving a Caesar cipher by brute force, it can take some time to find the correct letter shift, but once you have it, retrieving the hidden message is simple.

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