***Contains spoilers, obviously.***

As I mentioned previously, the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) released a hilariously infuriating Christmas card, which consisted of a logic puzzle, which once solved, led to more puzzles, which led to more puzzles, and so on. I cheated to complete Part 2. And, here’s how you can cheat to complete Part 4.

Part 4 consists of three series of numbers. These numbers, back to back, create an IP address to access Part 5. Three numbers to make one IP address. Hmmm, an IP address contains four numbers. One of the numbers must be a decimal. So, I’m looking for two integers and one float, but I’m not sure which.

If you look at the source code, there is a hash function that is used to verify that the answers are correct. Basically, it concatenates the three inputs, performs some one-way computations, returns two answers, and checks if they match two other, known numbers. So, you could work out the correct answers (if you’re smart enough), ooooooooor you could try all possible answers (which is what I did).

There are a few ways to constrain the list of possible answers, which will cut down on the computation time. All IP address components are integers between 0 and 255. Also, I took a guess that the first component was between 0-128 – a Class A IP address. The hash function takes 3 inputs, separated by null characters (“\0”). That means I need to separate 4 integers by two null characters and one period (representing a decimal), but I don’t know in which place the decimal should be. There are three possibilities for that.

So, in all, there are 128 * 256 * 256 * 256 * 3 possibilities (first, second, third, fourth IP components, and decimal placements) to inspect. That’s a grand total of 6,442,450,944 combinations to evaluate. Even for Python, that’s a lot of comparisons, but it can be done. It takes about 0.115s to run 128*3 comparisons, about 29.5s to run 128*256*3 comparisons. To complete our six billion comparisons, it will take approximately 22.5 days. Luckily, the final answer is located fairly early in the sequence, so the final run time is about 8.7 days.

Here’s the script I used:

import ctypes, sys, cProfile def hsh(dat): resultA = 3141592654 resultB = 1234567890 for i in range(2): initA = resultA initB = resultB for j in range(len(dat)): resultA += ord(dat.lower()[j]) resultB = ctypes.c_int((resultA * 31) ^ resultB).value tmp = resultA & resultA resultA = resultB & resultB resultB = tmp resultA = ctypes.c_int(resultA ^ initA).value resultB = ctypes.c_int(resultB ^ initB).value return [resultA, resultB] dot_config = [['.','\0','\0'],['\0','.','\0'],['\0','\0','.']] def findIP(): for x in range(128): for y in range(256): for z in range(256): for a in range(256): for dots in dot_config: res = hsh("".join([str(x), dots[0], str(y), dots[1], str(z), dots[2], str(a)])) if (res[0]==1824745082) and (res[1]==560037081): print ([str(x), dots[0], str(y), dots[1], str(z), dots[2], str(a)]) sys.exit() print (x, y, z, a, res[0], res[1]) cProfile.runctx('findIP()',None,locals())

And, the final answers: 52, 30.87, 208

The quiz is for charity, so don’t forget to donate here.