This Machine Kills Secrets, by Andy Greenberg, is a look at the history of information leaks, and as such spends a fair amount of time on Julian Assange. Forbes has an excerpt with these surprising paragraphs.
…Perhaps chiefly to entertain himself during his time in college, Assange invented a game: The Puzzle Hunt. Following a model invented by MIT for its venerable Mystery Hunt, the Puzzle Hunt was an elaborate campus-wide scavenger hunt punctuated with dozens of math and logic problems that drew in hundreds of students and still takes place annually on the University of Melbourne’s campus.
One of the puzzles Assange generated for that competition—and he created more of them in his first year than any other student—involved a long quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with each letter written backward. Seemingly random gaps appeared throughout the chunk of text, and collecting the letters following those anomalies revealed a clue for the next puzzle. Another conundrum involved factoring large numbers into primes—a procedure that would have seemed natural for anyone familiar with RSA’s public key encryption tricks.
A year after Assange left the university—he’s described quitting as a “forced move,” as in chess, “when you have to do something or you’ll lose the game”—he sent an e-mail to many of his former colleagues in the Melbourne University Math and Statistics Society asking for their participation in a new project as exciting and intellectually challenging as the Puzzle Hunt.
It was called WikiLeaks.