GCHQ presents CyberChef, an Open Source Data Analysis Tool

Pierluigi Paganini November 30, 2016

The GCHQ has released the code of a new open source web tool dubbed CyberChef, specifically designed for analyzing and decoding data.

Open data are a privileged source for intelligence agencies, almost any government is largely investing in technology to analyze them.

Recently the British intelligence Agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), has launched a new open source web tool specifically designed for analyzing and decoding data.

The tool dubbed CyberChef has been presented by the GCHQ as the “Cyber Swiss Army Knife.”

“CyberChef is a simple, intuitive web app for carrying out all manner of “cyber” operations within a web browser. These operations include creating hexdumps, simple encoding like XOR or Base64, more complex encryption like AES, DES and Blowfish, data compression and decompression, calculating hashes and checksums, IPv6 and X.509 parsing, and much more.” reads the description published by the GCHQ on GitHub.

“The tool is designed to enable both technical and non-technical analysts to manipulate data in complex ways without having to deal with complex tools or algorithms. It was conceived, designed, built and incrementally improved by an analyst in their 10% innovation time over several years. Every effort has been made to structure the code in a readable and extendable format, however it should be noted that the analyst is not a professional developer and the code has not been peer-reviewed for compliance with a formal specification.”


A point of strength is its user-friendly interface, even non-technical people could analyze encryption, compression and decompression, and data formats with simple drag and drop operations.

The CyberChef is a powerful tool for data analysis that could be used by multiple categories of users, including mathematicians, data analysts, developers and even casual puzzle solvers.

According to the GCHQ, CyberChef runs in Chrome and Firefox, the Agency expects that contributors will soon make it possible to execute it also in Microsoft Edge .

The tool could be used to manipulate different types of data, decode Base64 strings, convert data from a hexdump and perform many other operations.

The GCHQ released the source code of the tool on GitHub alongside with a demo. The GCHQ is inviting the community of developers to contribute to the improvement of the tool.

“It is hoped that by releasing CyberChef through Github, contributions can be added which can be rolled out into future versions of the tool, and is an excellent example of GCHQ providing a platform on which to base cybersecurity operations,” GCHQ said.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –GCHQ ,CyberChef )

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