January 18, 2022

Mozilla uses emoji to teach you the basics of encryption

Codemoji aims to introduce users to ciphers using emoji


The nebulous world of online security is hard to get your head around. Many of the concepts batted across the media, and argued over in court, are said to be important, but their relative invisibility often makes them difficult to comprehend.

Enter Codemoji, a colourful web-based game that uses smiley icons to teach the basics of ciphers. In a nutshell, the tool asks you to write messages and then encode them with emoji. You can then send the scrambled messages to your friends, but they’ll need to work out the key emoji to decipher the message.

Mozilla, who made the tool along with design and creative agency TODO, says it made the game to educate internet users about how encryptionworks – at least on a very basic level.

“When more people understand how encryption works and why it’s important to them, more people can stand up for encryption when it matters most,” said Mark Surman, Mozilla’s executive director. “This is crucial: currently, encryption is being threatened around the world. From France to Australia to the UK, governments are proposing policies that would harm user security by weakening encryption. And in the US, the FBI recently asked Apple to undermine the security of its own products.”


The game itself is followed up with a handful of videos that explain more about encryption and the arguments surrounding its use. It would have been good to see more technical terms gently introduced via the emoji-tool itself, although Codemoji is nevertheless fun to play around with.

Mozilla notes that Codemoji is “not a platform for sharing personal data”, and that it shouldn’t be used for sending sensitive information. So don’t expect to be receiving a government order to put backdoors into your emoji encryption anytime soon.

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