What is the mystery behind 1337? [Your 3-minute guide to Leet]

First things first: Can you read the above message that has been floating around on the internet? Quick, decode it!

Credit: "Brain teaser - Can you read this?" by Image Editor, retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/11304375@N07/7069937169, used under Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...) No modifications were made.

And now, riddle me this: how is the message connected to Hacking? The answer: It is in Leet Speak, a language used by hackers!

What is 1337?

Often referred to as 1337 or 133t, Leet Speak is an abbreviation of "Elite Speak." It is a unique, stylistic way of communicating, as it replaces numbers or special characters for certain letters and sometimes with hacker lingo as substitutes as well. Leet has multiple levels, but begins simple enough. The first level has a few variants from the usual English: an example is how Hacker turns into Hax0r. The second is more complicated, like how Absolute becomes /-\|3$0|_\_/']['€. Gradually, it builds up and Expert translates into"£}{|²3®´][´

When and where did it originate?

It started nearly a decade before the World Wide Web during the 1980s from computer users who were active on Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), which is similar to today’s chat rooms. It was originally developed as a "cipher" so only people who understood-or made out--leet speak were able to join into conversations. It quickly became an internet subculture and is linked to the early hacking days.

How is it used now?

1337 has left a footprint in the modern world, which is arguably incomplete without the cyber world in many ways. It is used as an informal electronic communication, often called a "dynamic sublanguage." From references to pop culture in recent movies such as Ready Player One, where character names are in leet, to a leet version of Google's search engine (Click here to check it out), Leet is a really useful tidbit to know about!


P.S. More fun below:

1. Want your name, Leet Version? Check out this site: https://1337.me/, or search up "leet name generator"

2. Another idea: Challenge your friends and family to create messages in Leet and hold a fun competition to see who can decode it the quickest! Here are two great tools to use: https://www.dcode.fr/leet-speak-1337 and http://www.robertecker.com/hp/research/leet-converter.php?lang=en. or search up Leet speak translators.

Thanks so much for reading, and have fun translating other Leet Messages that come your way! :)


Author: Rajvi Khanjan Shroff