Royal Australian Mint releases coin with secret code to mark cyber-spy agency’s 75th anniversary

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On 1 September 2022, the Royal Australian Mint released a limited edition 50 cent commemorative coin to celebrate the Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) 75th anniversary. Fifty thousand coins have been produced and are available for purchase by coin collectors and the Australian public.

The 50 cent coin marks 75 years of ASD, reflecting on our mission defending Australia from global threats. It commemorates our historical roots in World War II, harnessing and mastering technology to reveal foreign secrets and protect Australia’s own.

While the coin is not intended for circulation, 50,000 specialty coins will be available for purchase from the Royal Australian Mint, each featuring four levels of coded messages to crack.

ASD director-general Rachel Noble said the coin celebrated the work of the agency’s members and the evolution of code-breaking.

“Back in World War II, our people, military and civilian, and mostly women … used pencil and paper to decode Japanese military codes, and then re-encode them to send them out to the allies to let them know where Japanese war fighters were,” she said.

“We have used that part of our history in different layers, which represent the progress of encryption and technology through our 75 years.”

The ASD says the coin’s four different layers of encryption are each progressively harder to solve, and clues can be found on both sides of the coin.

Royal Australian Mint chief executive Leigh Gordon said cryptography experts had worked with the mint to design the coin, though he added that, even once the design was completed, fitting the codes on the faces of the coin was a complex process.

Photo courtesy Royal Australian Mint

Read more via ABC News/Australian Royal Mint/ ASD

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