The story of Cicada 3301 began on January 5, 2012. A profile of the same name appeared on social networks and its first post has become a mystery which to this day remains unsolved.
The original message states: Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we've created a test. This image contains a hidden message. Find it and we'll show you the way to finding us. We can't wait to meet the few who will manage to solve this puzzle.
The hidden message has not yet been found. The person thought to have come closest to solving it was 34-year-old programmer Joel Ericson. He used digital stenography - a method for hiding messages in the pixels of an image.
However, all he was able to read was "Tiberius Claudius Caesar". What followed was a series of letters bearing no relation to one another.
Ericson believed that the name Caesar was the key to a secret correspondence. Using the name he came upon a web address, which in turn led him to another web address and a new puzzle. Ultimately, the problem proved to be more complex than he had expected and he gave up.
A month after the first message was posted came the 2nd part of the cryptic puzzle: "Hello. We've finally found the individuals we've been searching for. With this, our month-long adventure ends. For now." The persons who were successful in solving the riddle remain unidentified.
According to many, Cicada 3301 is a spy organization which seeks brilliant minds for code breaking. Others believe it to be more proof of the creation of a New World Order conspiracy theory.
Perhaps most chilling of all is that there isn't some bored teenager behind this internet enigma, even though such posters have been found in various parts of the world - Russia, Japan, France, South Korea, Poland and the US. This can only mean that the group is a large, well-sponsored, global organization.