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Playfair Cipher

Playfair Cipher
  • #: 158966
  • Price: $0.99 In Apple Store
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Updated: 2011-01-06
  • Current Version: 2.0
  • 2.0
  • Size: 0.10 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller: David & Armus Daube
  • Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
  • © 2010 David & Armus Daube.
  •  Add to Favorite apps



This is a simple application that uses the Playfair cipher to encode messages.

"The Playfair cipher or Playfair square is a manual symmetric encryption technique and was the first literal digraph substitution cipher. The scheme was invented in 1854 by Charles Wheatstone, but bears the name of Lord Playfair who promoted the use of the cipher.

The technique encrypts pairs of letters (digraphs), instead of single letters as in the simple substitution cipher and rather more complex Vigenère cipher systems then in use. The Playfair is thus significantly harder to break since the frequency analysis used for simple substitution ciphers does not work with it. Frequency analysis can still be undertaken, but on the 600 possible digraphs rather than the 26 possible monographs. The frequency analysis of digraphs is possible, but considerably more difficult – and it generally requires a much larger ciphertext in order to be useful.

The Playfair cipher uses a 5 by 5 table containing a key word or phrase. Memorization of the keyword and 4 simple rules was all that was required to create the 5 by 5 table and use the cipher.

To generate the key table, one would first fill in the spaces in the table with the letters of the keyword (dropping any duplicate letters), then fill the remaining spaces with the rest of the letters of the alphabet in order (usually omitting "Q" to reduce the alphabet to fit, other versions put both "I" and "J" in the same space). The key can be written in the top rows of the table, from left to right, or in some other pattern, such as a spiral beginning in the upper-left-hand corner and ending in the center. The keyword together with the conventions for filling in the 5 by 5 table constitute the cipher key.

To encrypt a message, one would break the message into digraphs (groups of 2 letters) such that, for example, "HelloWorld" becomes "HE LL OW OR LD", and map them out on the key table. The two letters of the digraph are considered as the opposite corners of a rectangle in the key table. Note the relative position of the corners of this rectangle. Then apply the following 4 rules, in order, to each pair of letters in the plaintext:

If both letters are the same (or only one letter is left), add an "X" after the first letter. Encrypt the new pair and continue. Some variants of Playfair use "Q" instead of "X", but any uncommon monograph will do.

If the letters appear on the same row of your table, replace them with the letters to their immediate right respectively (wrapping around to the left side of the row if a letter in the original pair was on the right side of the row).

If the letters appear on the same column of your table, replace them with the letters immediately below respectively (wrapping around to the top side of the column if a letter in the original pair was on the bottom side of the column).

If the letters are not on the same row or column, replace them with the letters on the same row respectively but at the other pair of corners of the rectangle defined by the original pair. The order is important – the first letter of the encrypted pair is the one that lies on the same row as the first letter of the plaintext pair.

To decrypt, use the INVERSE (opposite) of the first 3 rules, and the 4th as is (dropping any extra "X"s (or "Q"s) that don't make sense in the final message when you finish)." Wikipedia.

For an example see Wikipedia's page on the Playfair cipher.

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The information may be outdated (2011-04-18 14:55:43). For actual information go to iTunes

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