In the vast expanse of the internet, where trends come and go, there exists a digital time capsule. A relic from the early days of online communities. Its name is 4chan, and it carries with it a rich history that stretches back to the late 1990s. Born from the roots of internet relay chat (IRC) and message boards, 4chan emerged as a unique and influential platform. It has defied and outlasted traditional norms and paved the way for a new era of anonymous interaction.

As the internet evolved, so did the landscape of online communication. From the ashes of early bulletin board systems (BBS) and IRC, 4chan rose to prominence in the early 2000s. Created by Christopher Poole, known by his online pseudonym “moot,” the platform offers users a haven for anonymity. It provides an escape from the constraints of personal identity and fosters an environment of free expression.

In its early days, 4chan was primarily fueled by an eclectic user base drawn to its anonymous nature. I like to describe it as the public portal to the darknet. It’s the most public preview of the secret societies that exist under the surface layers of mainnet. As 4chan has grown it has attracted users from all walks of life. The website is powered by tech enthusiasts, artists, meme connoisseurs, and conspiracy theorists. What sets 4chan apart is its unique subculture, characterized by its distinct set of topics and boards.

While 4chan has gained notoriety for its association with controversial content and subversive movements, it would be remiss to overlook the creative and collaborative aspects that have emerged within its virtual walls. From the birth of beloved internet memes like “lolcats” and “Rickrolling” to the development of groundbreaking internet subcultures and many secret societies, 4chan has been a breeding ground for innovation, artistic expression, and mystery.

The website’s monetization model has always been a topic of interest and speculation. Unlike traditional platforms driven by advertising revenue, 4chan relies on user donations and merchandise sales to sustain its operations. Given the high costs of hosting millions of photos and a massive database, it takes a good amount of capital to keep the lights on. So who are the generous benefactors that keep 4chan around, and why? Well, I can tell you about one source: hackers like me. Our reasons range, but the biggest motivation is the ability to communicate in plain sight, coordinating with hackers who know a call sign (e.g. white rabbit) to find hidden messages embedded in images.

4chan continues to captivate and confound both new and veteran internet users alike. It stands as a testament to the power of anonymity, the vastness of online communities, and the enduring legacy of early internet culture. Beyond its outward appearance, 4chan conceals a hidden world—an underground network of secrets, conspiracies, and encrypted messages—that beckons the curious to delve deeper into its enigmatic depths.

So, as you traverse the vast landscape of the internet, remember that beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary websites, a multitude of stories and secrets awaits discovery. The tale of 4chan serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving nature of online communities, and the power they hold to shape our digital world. It is within this realm that we venture, shining a light on the hidden corners of 4chan, exploring the art of steganography, and unraveling the secrets that lie within its intricate tapestry.

Steganography

Steganography, derived from the Greek words “steganos” (meaning covered or hidden) and “graphein” (meaning to write), is an ancient art of secret communication. Dating back thousands of years, it has been employed by civilizations throughout history to conceal messages within innocuous carriers, ranging from hidden compartments in physical objects to invisible ink on parchment. Steganography operates on the principle of security through obscurity, relying on the fact that the hidden message remains undetected by those who are unaware of its existence.

In the modern digital era, steganography has found new life, taking advantage of the vast amounts of data we generate and share every day. The concept remains the same—to embed information within other data in such a way that it appears inconspicuous to the casual observer. This can be achieved by subtly altering the pixels of an image, the least significant bits of an audio file, or even the whitespace in a document.

How a Secret Society Uses Steg

Hackers and secret societies with hidden agendas have embraced steganography as a powerful tool in their clandestine activities. Sites like 4chan, with their inherent anonymity and vast user base, provide an ideal breeding ground for the covert exchange of information. Hackers can use steganography techniques to hide malicious code, sensitive data, or instructions within seemingly innocuous files shared on the platform. The allure of steganography lies in its ability to evade detection by conventional security measures. By embedding information within benign-looking files, hackers can bypass traditional scanning tools and surveillance systems that are designed to detect specific patterns or signatures of malicious activity. This covert communication method allows hackers to operate under the radar, making it challenging for cybersecurity professionals to identify and counter their activities.

On platforms like 4chan, where users engage in a wide range of discussions, image sharing, and meme creation, steganography becomes an attractive option for those seeking to disseminate hidden messages. By embedding sensitive information within images or media files, hackers can leverage the platform’s vast user base to distribute their concealed content without raising suspicion. This makes it difficult for security teams and moderators to identify and prevent the transmission of potentially harmful or illegal material.

Broad Use of Steg

While steganography has gained notoriety in the realm of cybersecurity and hacking, it is essential to recognize that it has legitimate applications as well. Law enforcement agencies and intelligence organizations may employ steganography techniques for covert communication and information exchange in the interest of national security. Additionally, researchers and professionals in fields such as digital forensics and data protection utilize steganalysis—the detection and analysis of steganographic content—to uncover hidden information and enhance security protocols.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, steganography remains a potent tool in the arsenal of hackers and individuals seeking covert communication. It underscores the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between those seeking to exploit hidden channels and those striving to detect and counteract their activities. In the ever-advancing field of cybersecurity, understanding the principles and techniques of steganography is crucial for staying one step ahead in the ongoing battle to safeguard digital information and protect online communities.

Secrets Revealed

Alright, you read through the mumbo-jumbo GPT-written shit about steganography that you could have picked up off of Wikipedia. I won’t elaborate or list out further all of the cryptography techniques and methods when you can research that elsewhere.

You want real-world examples, am I right?!

First, let me introduce you to Julie. A friend of mine created her as a puzzle to identify seasoned crackers. She’s not your beginner’s guide to steganography. There are other websites and tools out there for that. Julie has a hidden payload that takes a lot more skill to crack.

Courtesy of one of the best Security Consultants you can meet, I’d like to introduce you to Julie. She has a secret. Reach out to FantasticTales@proton.me with the answer and your solution if you can get her secrets!

I’ll point you in the direction of a few “boards” I actually use. It’s important to note, a “message board” is literally whatever you want to define. In hacker communities, we still use old nomenclature but the reality is you can communicate in a myriad of ways and places. One that I’ve used with a couple of friends is the 4chan Pokemon Section.

Warning: 4chan/vp is tamer than other areas of 4chan, but still often NSFW.

Look for Jigglypuff posts on there as those posts are not likely to have much security on those messages. We mostly just use JP for casual conversations. Most of us use open-source tools to encrypt/decrypt but the exact methods and passwords used are more of a private rule established between a group with an agreed upon standard.

Follow the White Rabbit

There are tens of thousands of embedded secrets hiding in plain sight across websites like 4chan. The deepest, darkest, and craziest shit is all ripe for picking if you’re willing to dig through the garbage of 4chan/b Random (NSFW). The average person probably wouldn’t be able to figure out WHY these secrets are posted in public and in the filth of pornographic or disturbing images, but the reasons are actually fairly trivial. By hiding messages in images ranging from revolting to illegal, hackers reduce the likelihood that some government spooks are going to browse our shit. If the requirement to decode content means staring at hardcore porn or gore for hours on end then that means the average person cannot or will not do so.

Are Hackers Always Perverts and Pedophiles?

Ironically, because of the nature of hiding payloads in media filth, this is also why you see a lot of hackers getting busted and labeled with child porn charges. None of the hackers I know are into this smut bullshit but all of us probably have interacted with it. It’s also an ugly and necessary evil when probing around the dark web or in certain public channels.

Cautionary Tip: You can’t explore through TOR for any meaningful amount of time and not end up accidentally clicking on child porn or other criminal content. Avoid “pizza” at all costs, but in reality, just assume that being on the dark web at all means you’ve already committed a crime.

Breaking the law is part of the risk in partaking in the highest security communities and messages. Along with all of the other illegal shit we do, a child porn charge is far from the worst we could get stuck with if caught. In reality, it’s just the easiest charge for a prosecutor to stick a hacker with in court, which is why it’s so common.

Why Prosecutors Love This Charge

It is often very difficult for a prosecutor to prove that I contributed to a server hack. My mode of operation is always about anonymity. But IF I was caught, and IF I was raided, the thing prosecution will focus on is not likely the fact that I hacked into some organization’s servers, for a few reasons:

  • The attacked organization would be in the spotlight and security breaches are bad press.
  • It’s difficult to find a judge, prosecutor, or jury that understands all of the tech lingo.
  • The evidence is usually circumstantial at best.

The charge that is sticky and embarrassing to the hacker is often something like a child porn charge. Such a charge establishes that I may have sick and disturbing behavior. The goal is to ruin my name and character.

Fuck you FBI

So if Mr. Joe Blow from the FBI is after me, he’s likely to look for history or downloaded media that makes me look like a pervert and that’s likely all he’ll need to make a private plea deal or get my full cooperation. Even if he knows that inside those files are keys, rainbow tables, entire programs, and troves of harvested government docs he knows it takes work to crack those open. It’s much easier for the agency to negotiate and use whatever leverage or intimidation tactics on me to make me subservient. Also, does Mr. Blow really want to comb through derogatory and disturbing media all day to find secrets? Will the bosses even allow that?

There are safer ways than using 4chan though, and for me personally, I’ve been out of the hacking game for a good amount of time so you won’t find anything crazy on my computer these days. In my heyday, however, I played my part in redistributing assets across 4chan for others to retrieve.

Minion Speak

After a good decade or so immersed in that world, I and many friends of mine were concerned we were desensitizing ourselves to the porn, gore, and all the crazy shit we’d have to look through to find each other’s messages.

My "call sign" by the way, was Cartel beheading photos and videos. If you wanted to find my messages you'd pull those down and look for my signature in exif data and then run through steg with a custom key I shared with you in order to retrieve my message. 

Instead of having to look at this shit all day, I had an interesting idea circa 2005 for a new communication method. The idea was to combine leet-speak with a mix of spoken language and ciphers to invent a new communication strategy. I called it Minion speak.

Many of us were bi-lingual already and could dabble and stumble our way through Germanic and Latin-based languages pretty well. So my idea was: why don’t we do this intentionally to throw off anyone that would try to scrape our conversations? Bonus points for poor spelling or using phonetic sounds at random too. The goal was to keep bots at bay, not humans, so it was a pretty solid plan and thesis. So in my hacker group and our IRC chats, this became our standard operating procedure for communication. It’s only practical for L1 comms, for important assets and L5 communication we’d still need cryptology that was based on minion speak.

Secret Societies

Do you know what’s awesome about forming a secret society? All the buzz, theory, posts, and chatter speculating about the secret society creates so much noise that it protects the hidden signals that the society itself. I call it our force field, but it’s simple signal v. noise in truth. Entire websites like Forgotten Languages are dedicated to trying to unpack and uncover our Minion Speak. Forums and Reddit threads light up trying to dissect and understand what’s going on. It’s the perfect place to hide serious incriminating secrets.

By hiding in plain sight, you ensure a passive distribution of assets to unknowing hosts. Like a virus, average conspiracy nuts are distributing actual government secrets (e.g. 9/11 cover-up) and have no idea. An average user might uncover a level-1 asset which may be a poem, fan fiction, or just two people shooting the shit about any topic that interests them. In reality, they have unknowingly copied and pasted REAL state secrets. These messages from secret societies are encrypted with the highest degree of care and protection and embedded in content likely to be shared.

Distribution

Another huge advantage and why many of us switched to this method over steganography is asset preservation. The problem with steganography is that these images are susceptible to damage when saved and uploaded to sites like Reddit (which optimizes the image using compression) and the original hidden payload can get lost. But a string of text of a weird-looking language: well that’s likely to be copied/saved in full and preserve the hidden payload. People are quite literally distributing our packets of information and unknowingly re-transmitting it to others. Us hackers took a page out of biology and this was another concept my group ideated: BE the virus instead of just creating the virus. Post the payload with your alt account on Reddit like “WTF is this?” and let it distribute on its own from there.

While I’m sure there are actual secret societies doing weird ass stuff from witchcraft to clandestine operations, I think a vast majority of “lost languages” are proprietary to different secs and I’m responsible for creating at least half a dozen languages myself, so I commonly come across some of my own content in the wild. For me, it is amusing and selfishly feels good to watch someone work at decrypting some of my work to reveal a poem or song that I wrote. I don’t get the fame or glory, but in some small way, it feels like I’m making my own life and thoughts less ephemeral and building a legacy of sorts.

There’s So Much More

Hopefully, this article helps someone out there better understand what we’re doing with these languages and what the conspiracy is all about. If it’s piqued your interest, know this: the best evidence of aliens, government secrets, 9/11 and a myriad of other secrets are all out there in plain sight. Famous whistleblowers and advocates like Snowden and Assange have been in these same circles and used these same tools. In fact, you can fact-check this post with them if you’re so inclined. At this point, many of us have moved on to other methods of communication so Minion speak is as deprecated to many of us as leetspeak or steganography is. Nonetheless, almost two decades of secrets are out there as “lost languages” and ready for the patient and problem-solving mind to decode for themselves.

I’ll make some effort to keep up with comments on this post, so if there are specific questions or pointers you want, drop a note and I’ll check in from time to time to reply.

o7

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