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There are two kinds of cryptography in this world: cryptography that will stop your kid sister from reading your files and cryptography that will stop major governments from reading your files. - Bruce Schneier, Preface to Applied Cryptography

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Information is at 1.0. There are no known bugs. Encrypt away! [2001-04-18]

The Vigenere (Actually, it is correctly spelled "Vigenére", but many machines don't support the accented 'e'. And I don't even know what to call it, pathetic American that I am...) Cipher was developed in the 16th century and became the predominant cipher for more than 200 years. Nowadays, it can only foil your kid sister.

It's not a terrifically difficult cipher to encrypt or decrypt by hand, which makes it ideal for simple note passing or encrypted classified ads to your significant other. All it requires is a known 'key', a phrase agreed to before hand. See the links section for links to pages that describe the cipher in some detail and give usage instructions.

You can make an uncrackable cipher using a 'one-time pad'. This is rather cumbersome and not very practical however. If you want to give it a try, the distribution of comes with '' which will generate a (pseudo) random one-time pad for you to use. is in the public domain.

Details is very simple to use. There are two functions and only two functions, "envigen" and "devigen". Encrypt with en-, decrypt with de-. Both key and a_string should be strings.


abg@sami:~/src/vigen$ ./ 'python' 'The secret keyword for today is 
abg@sami:~/src/vigen$ ./ 'dietcoke' 'The red crow flies at midnight 
without an umbrella'




Vigenere links

  1. Sharky's Vigenere Cipher - Online v cipher.
  2. An excellent page on the Vigenere Cipher - Go here first.
  3. A crypto paper. It's a PDF file. See Chapter 4.
Crypto links
  1. Cryptography and COTS in the 20th century. - It's all about the perceptions.
  2. Yahoo's Cryto Pages
  3. OTP FAQ - Very nice.
Links about The Code Book
  1. Salon has an online review.
  2. Another online review
  3. Pages on the cipher challenge
  4. Slashdot has another review.
How to get (if necessary)
  1. My RotNN page


I was inspired to create this code by reading "The Code Book" (ISBN: 0385495315) by Simon Singh. It's a very good book, well-written and easy to comprehend. I recommend it. Buy it at your favorite bookseller. is Free Software and is released under the terms of the GPL. If you don't know what that means, please follow the link!

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