On January 4, 2012, 4chan's /pol thread showcased a post that presented an image with a puzzle to all its viewers. It simply read:

Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in the image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few who will make it all the way through. Good luck.

It was signed: 3301

Although it inspired speculation in the beginning, the puzzle that focused heavily on data security, cryptography, and steganography was quickly picked up.

It threw the internet world into a frenzy of problem solving. One puzzle's solution marked the beginning of another. From cryptography to physically placed puzzles across different parts of the world, users soon realised that the 3301 organisation wasn't kidding around. This was the real deal.

Many speculated this to be a hoax, many others claimed it was a recruitment scheme by one of the world's best intelligence organisation.

The one thing that the organisation promised was the road to enlightenment and a higher knowledge of the world. Acclaimed cyber security personnel from around the world claim that this does not seem to be the work of intelligence agencies like the CIA or MI6. In fact, they claim that this could perhaps be the work of just one highly trained and organised person. 

The puzzle subsequently showed up in 2013 and 2014 on the same date, but disappeared in 2015.

The two subsequent puzzles urged the problem solvers of the previous puzzle to use their solutions to continue down the mind-bending path. But in 2015 a lot of other posers played pranks ranging from claiming that they had solved the puzzle completely, to saying that they were 3301 themselves. But all of these claims were dismissed again on January 5, 2016, when another puzzle showed up on Twitter and the mysterious game continues to date.

There are no definitive winners, and those who seem to have solved the puzzle remain absolutely quiet.

The puzzle has seemed to get only harder with each addition, and is considered to be one of the toughest problems out there. Computer geeks and hackers from around the world have vowed to themselves to get to the end, while most others have just given up. While there was mention of a seemingly genuine message from 3301 claiming that they had "found who they were looking for," it remains unconfirmed. And the problem solver remains silent.

Whatever the truth behind this mind-numbing exercise maybe, it remains an absolute mystery. But one that all of us really want to dig into and find the truth behind. Maybe there is no real end to this puzzling game, or maybe 3301 are telling the world the truth and really have knowledge of a higher and superior kind.

Any computer geeks want to try it out?

Masthead & Feature Image Source: nbcnewyork.com