In a columnar transposition cipher, the message is written in a grid of equal length rows, and then read out column by column. The columns are chosen in a scrambled order, decided by the encryption key. Since transposition ciphers doesn't affect the letter frequencies, it can be detected through frequency analysis. Like other transposition ciphers, it can be attacked by moving letters around and anagramming. Also it can be attacked using brute-force methods if the key isn't long enough.
Columnar Transposition Cipher Tool
Auto Solve Options
You can decode (decrypt) or encode (encrypt) your message with your key. If you don't have any key, you can try to auto solve (break) your cipher.
- Language: The language determines the letters and statistics used for decoding, encoding and auto solving.
- Min/Max Key Length: This is the search range for keys when auto solving a cipher.
- Max Results: This is the maximum number of results you will get from auto solving.
- Spacing Mode: This is about the spaces (word breaks) in the text. In most cases it should be set to Automatic. In case a specific letter (for instance X) is used as word separator, set it to Substitute.
Auto Solve results
Still not seeing the correct result? Then try experimenting with the Auto Solve settings or use the Cipher Identifier Tool.
Enter the key and click decode or encode to show.
- The columnar transposition cipher is an example of transposition cipher.
- It is simple enough to be possible to carry out by hand.
- It can encrypt any characters, including spaces and punctuation, but security is increased if spacing and punctuation is removed.
- The message does not always fill up the whole transposition grid. The remaining of the transposition grid can then optionally be filled with a padding character (regular columnar transposition cipher), or left blank (irregular columnar transposition cipher).
Sample Columnar Transposition Cipher Text
Code-breaking is not only fun, but also a very good exercise for your brain and cognitive skills. Why don’t you try breaking this example cipher:
rnrte tdaod hahen etggt whpid tydeo nmith deeah aaosb heaau dughe obsne sinhu asnnt wcgah fitte ouhai ensma sbrta hgi
See also: Code-Breaking overview | Adfgvx cipher | Adfgx cipher | Affine cipher | Atbash cipher | Baconian cipher | Beaufort cipher | Bifid cipher | Caesar cipher | Cryptogram | Double transposition | Enigma machine | Four-square cipher | Gronsfeld cipher | Keyed caesar cipher | One-time pad | Pigpen cipher | Playfair cipher | Rail fence cipher | Rot13 | Route transposition | Trifid cipher | Variant beaufort cipher | Vigenere cipher