I have an idea for a simple cipher that builds on old techniques that I thought I would share with this group. It has probably been done but I have not been able to find a reference to it.
Given two individuals who wish to encrypt their correspondence, brevity and a one time pad is pretty bullet proof. However there are weaknesses that can be exploited. Using a key word that can be deduced as well as common letter pairings, complexity and mistakes in the ciphering or deciphering and finally the pad or letter grid itself.
My idea is to remove as many of these failings as possible and make a quick and easy process. Starting with the letter grid or square. Blocks of jumbled alphabets have been used, paragraphs from books but what ever the the source the letters must be put into a table format, at least 2 copies, that are correct. Unless one just uses a book cipher then you just need two identical books. I do crossword puzzles and realized every day there is a solution to yesterday's puzzle in the paper. A ready made pad accurate across the distribution of the paper. All that is needed is the index line and column. There are holes in the puzzle, black zones, and those could reveal the structure of the pad given enough encrypted words. But could those be embraced. That took me the actual enciphering technique. Instead of complex routines what if I just use a frame. Knowing that I need an E, I pick one in the grid and then use a piece of paper to find the two index letters, one for the column one for the row.
Look in the paper on a specific day and retrieve the crossword solution. Clear text, "buy in my name" Find a letter b in the grid or table Put the corner of the piece of paper on the grid so that it points diagonally to the b Follow the paper edges to the two indexes and read the characters that identify the square with b in it. Repeat. Spaces could be indexed to blacked out squares.
Get the crossword solution for the proper date and time Put the index row and column in place Use a piece of paper to read the clear text from the grid
There are obvious problems, beyond my general unfamiliarity with the process, but my question would be a historic pointer to this process if there is one. Opinion on the security of the process, breaking the cipher. And finally given the process how many times could one use that grid? Obviously the New York Times crossword would be a far better source than a kids crossword .. but.