Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Help Break Original Enigma Messages

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the whirr-click dept.


Stereo writes "The Enigma Machine was cracked in Poland in 1932, but three messages remain unbroken, despite having been intercepted in the North Atlantic in 1942. The M4 Project, named after the four rotor Enigma M4 used for encryption, is a distributed computing effort to break them. One message has already been deciphered successfully!"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

More than 3 are unbroken (4, Informative)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802977)

There are more than just those three message still unbroken. Those were just three that were selected for this project.

Error (3, Interesting)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802981)

Are they sure they're not just bad data? Wouldn't it be a good idea to send crap through the lines every so often to throw people off the trail?

Re:Error (1)

DrEasy (559739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803017)

But then wouldn't that confuse the actual recipient as well?

Re:Error (1)

SySOvErRiDe (646513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803054)

The intended receiver would decode it and see that its garbage and just ignore it. I think crackers would have a hard time figuring out patterns if there's real information mixed with significant garbage data.

Re:Error (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803482)

It's normal to tell the receiver when the next message will be likely to arrive, or even have a scheduled receive time every week.

Re:Error (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803024)

One of the main reasons the Enigma crypts were breakable with 1940's technology is that the Germans did _not_ do useful things like that. They re-used keys, left cribs in the messages, etc.

Basically, they put too much faith in the encryption technology, and didn't put enough effort into securing the rest of the process. It's not unusual, many of today's systems have similar issues.

The comments in Bruce Schneier's blog [] list some more things that went wrong in the Enigma process.

Re:Error (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803464)

They must have done occasionally. I remember hearing a story where Bletchley received a junk message which had no 'L's. Since the crib relied on the Enigma's inability to encode a letter to itself, the received message must have consisted entirely of the letter L.

Re:Error (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803216)

Correct, a really good crypto system would be continuously transmitting a constant stream of jibberish and would have a preshared library of start and stop keywords to allow good data to be picked out by automatic means. This would allow a strong cryptographic system to also be resistant to traffic analysis. However the German enigma setup was anything but good.

Re:Error (1)

jacken (98085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803227)

That would explain Brittney Spears on the radio...

Re:Error (2, Interesting)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803240)

The Germans were over-confident to the point of incompetence with their encryption. The British certainly didn't attempt to change this, and ULTRA [] was only declassified in 1974, and it's likely as not that the Germans still thought their ciphers invincible at the end of the war.

power of proper encryption (1)

jnf (846084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802982)

This just goes to show the power of properly implemented encryption.

Re:power of proper encryption (4, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802989)

So what if it took 60 years to crack, those subs are sitting ducks now! Good encryption my ass..

Re:power of proper encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803057)

Which is why they should have posted the messages as an Anonymous Coward!

Re:power of proper encryption (1)

MMaestro (585010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803100)

More likely, these (non-decoded) messages were simply marked as 'to be decoded', shelved and then ultimately were never decoded. Once the war ended, there was no need to decode old messages and all efforts were simply forgotten.

Re:power of proper encryption (1)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803273)

Please tell me you're joking? properly implemented encryption? It was terrible, most likely MMaestro is right, there was no simply pressing need to decrypt them. If you want to know why the encryption wasn't properly implemented, I'd recommend ULTRA [] , or The Code Book by Simon Singh.

Puzzles? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14802983)

I just love puzzles.

Coral Cache? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802984)

Okay, is this just one big conspiracy or not? I have *NEVER* had a Coral Cache link work. Not once.

I think you're all just messing with my head. /me reaches for tin foil hat


Re: Coral Cache? (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802997)

It has worked for me in the past, but it does seem sloooow today. So maybe they're turning against me too '-)

Re: Coral Cache? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803004)

Perhaps a firewall or http proxy is the culprit? Coral links usu. not on port 80.

Your UID is so low, I am going to assume you've already thought of this, though...

Re: Coral Cache? (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803027)

Okay, is this just one big conspiracy or not? I have *NEVER* had a Coral Cache link work. Not once.

You said it. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

It looks to me like Corel Cache can be Slashdotted as well. Indeed, the only time I ever find that Corel Cache helps me to read a story that /. links to is when someone submits the Corel Cache link, and I can then go to the original story that is supposed to be cached, because the rest of /. is hammering Corel Cache instead.

Corel Cache doesn't have a special "Bandwidth of the Infinite" spell it can cast when the /. hordes descend upon a site.


Re: Coral Cache? (1)

antime (739998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803347)

Me neither. Meanwhile, the original link is working just fine.

Build your own Enigma Machine (4, Interesting)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802987)

Here's a site where you can order a parts kit to build you own [] Enigma Machine.

Re:Build your own Enigma Machine (2, Informative)

realbadjuju (870896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803189)

And here's a paper [] 3-rotor version... Print out and play.

Java Enigma Simulator (4, Interesting)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802992)

Here's a Java Enigma Simulator [] .

Re:Java Enigma Simulator (4, Funny)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803440)

A Java enima stimulator, simply add it to your coffee and run.


Re:Java Enigma Simulator (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803488)

Someone mod the parent funny, I've already posted and cannot mod.

Wasn't the enigma cracked? (2, Interesting)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14802994)

Why are there still these 3 messages that are unbroken? None of TFA seems to talk about this. Even though it is interesting to note that it's estimated to take 1-10 days of 100 celerons 24/7 to crack a ciphertext of 180 letters long. And that's with computers that are 60 years ahead of the technology that the enigma was made from.

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (3, Interesting)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803010)

If it wasn't for the Enigma machine it is unlikely computers would be as advanced as they are today since cracking the enigma code was THE reason computer development really got started with the Mark I in WWII.

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (2, Interesting)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803280)

If it wasn't for the Enigma machine it is unlikely computers would be as advanced as they are today since cracking the enigma code was THE reason computer development really got started with the Mark I in WWII.
This is just not true. Enigma was broken using "bombes" which were not computers by any reasonable definition of the term. A bombe was simply an electromechanical device that tested each possible rotor setting. Colossus, OTOH, considered by some to be the first programmable digital computer, was developed at Bletchley to break the Lorenz ciphers. So if you want to credit Nazi ciphers with advancing the state of computing, that's the one to choose. However Colossus was destroyed at the end of the war and no information about it was made public until the late 1970's. So it's hard to claim it had much impact on the development of the computer (this is why ENIAC was considered to be the first computer for so long).

The fact is that the ground work for the modern digital computer was laid before the war by Turing and others. The work that was done at places like Bletchey during WWII was essentially lost due to the secrecy surrounding such places (which extended decades after the war ended). That work was recreated independently in any case.

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (3, Informative)

igb (28052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803415)

Although Colossus was classified, a lot of the people who worked on it went on to become the initial wave of computer builders in UK universities after the war. It's also reputed that at least one Colossus survived at Cheltenham into the 1970s, presumably working on multi-wheel stream ciphers.


Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803446)

However Colossus was destroyed at the end of the war

There were more than one Colossus. Most of them were destroyed, but two of them were moved to GCHQ. There are rumours that parts of an original Colossus may still exist somewhere within intelligence system, but apparently no serious effort has ever been put into investigating that.

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (2, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803052)

Enigma wasn't cracked because of weaknesses in the algorithm(although those do exist), it was broken because of the German's sloppy cryptography practices and the fact that the allies found out what process they were using to determine their keys.

If a cop is wearing body armor, it doesn't mean that he can walk out into a torrent of incoming bullets. Chances are that one of those bullets will find a weakness in his armor, or simply strike him in a place where he's not protected. Similar principle here.


Hey knobjockey (-1, Troll)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803257)

>Enigma wasn't cracked because of weaknesses in the algorithm

if you know shit about shit, why not keep your mouth shut?

the need to say something that's crap from start to finish just in order to have something to say is starting to really get me down about this place.

Re:Hey knobjockey (3, Interesting)

Xilman (191715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803350)

The parent poster is correct: a properly used Enigma machine is effectively unbreakable with the technology of the day and, for that matter, the technology of the next few decades too.

The majority of the users of the Enigma machine were not using it properly and so left cracks for BP to exploit. All this is well documented by people who do know a great deal about cryptographic systems. Some of them worked for BP and have in-depth first hand knowledge of what they write about.

Even today's technology, that in the open literature anyway, still has real difficulties breaking Naval Enigma without the weaknesses introduced by the German users of the system. Read the site carefully and you will discover that important amounts of key material are already known, thereby greatly reducing the amount of computation required to find the rest of the key. And even with this assistance, approximately a cpu year is needed to break the encryption.

All this strongly suggests that Naval Enigma isn't a bad cryptosystem and certainly a good one for the day. There have been many much worse ones fielded in recent years.


hey paul (-1, Troll)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803368)

thanks for your bullshit, irrelevant input.

i am not entering into debate about these points of fact.
you and the OP are wrong.

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803068)

NSA could throw a whopper cluster/machine at it and crack that in seconds one would think. Why haven't they?

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803088)

who says they haven't? :)

Re:Wasn't the enigma cracked? (3, Funny)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803131)

Too busy reading your email :D


Enigma is fairly close to a OTP (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803099)

The Enigma code was broken only in the trivial sense that it was possible to brute-force decrypt the messages, once the algorithm, prng and seed value were known. It was not "broken" in the purist sense of the term, in that there is no shorter method of cracking the messages other than by brute-force.

The full Enigma code is extremely difficult to break. The machine used by Alan Turing (Colossus) was massively parallel and highly optimized for the task - so much so that it is actually able to compute something like ten times as many keys per second as a modern Pentium 4 using the same algorithm. Not bad, for a machine of that era.

The Enigma suffered from numerous weaknesses - almost all of them operator error. The encryption mechanism itself was damn good and, if used correctly each time, every time, it would have been horribly difficult for the Bletchley Park team to break.

The one event that turned Enigma transparent was the re-transmission of a message without the cogs being randomized first. Because a machine had already been recovered, Turing knew what the cogs were, just not where they should be in relation to each other. By having the same message sent twice without change and without a prior reset, it was possible to overlay the two messages and thereby infer virtually everything else.

This only allows you to crack messages which use the same prng for initialization and identical cogs. Since the cogs were designed to be swappable, non-standard configurations would have been possible. These would not have been crackable - and would likely not be crackable today, if non-standard enough. (The number of arrangements you would need to test increases with the factorial of the number of ways the cogs could be designed, as well as the factorial of the number of ways the cogs could be inserted into the machine.)

The possibility exists that certain units may have used non-standard Enigma codes, but if that is the case, those codes will NOT be broken by this effort. The groups that spirited high-ranking Germans to South America and other "secure" locations must have had a communication system that the Allies had not yet deciphered, as they must have been able to operate over extremely large distances very quickly, making the use of radio a certainty.

It is also likely that some units within the German military adopted their own "extra secure" practices when using the Enigma system internally. These may or may not be crackable, depending on how paranoid the commanders were.

Re:Enigma is fairly close to a OTP (2, Interesting)

AWeishaupt (917501) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803112)

Colossus had nothing to do with cryptanalysis of any Engima variant. The Colossus machines were used to help break the more advanced Baudot code teleprinter systems used for communications between German command posts - particularly the system known to the Allies as 'TUNNY'

Enigma is fundamentally flawed. (5, Interesting)

Convergence (64135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803199)

Enigma has a fatal flaw: No letter could be encyphered to itself. This is an artifact of the 'reflector disc' at the end this means that a known plaintext, or crib, can be ruled out for a particular offset, if any letter of it matches a letter in the cyphertext. This, combined with message statistics, allows for powerful cryptographic techniques to be used. [] These techniques were unavailable in WW2, but they exploit fundamental weaknesses in the design.

Of course, in WW2, it was the misuse of enigma that made it particularily easy to break --- It might only take one weather report to learn the daily subkey. Had Enigma been properly used, it would probably have been nearly unbreakable with WW2 era technology.

Re:Enigma is fundamentally flawed. (3, Interesting)

mlush (620447) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803465)

Of course, in WW2, it was the misuse of enigma that made it particularily easy to break --- It might only take one weather report to learn the daily subkey. Had Enigma been properly used, it would probably have been nearly unbreakable with WW2 era technology.

One tactic they used was 'Gardening' where they sent out bombers to mine a particular sea area, then sit back and wait for standard message reporting the new minefield

Re:Enigma is fairly close to a OTP (1)

Johnno74 (252399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803281)

Have you got a reference for that "10 times faster than a p4" quote? I saw that and was impressed, but I looked colossus up on wikipedia [] and apparently colossus used 1500 valves.
A valve does the same thing as a transistor, and I find it extremely hard to believe that 1500 transistors, no matter how cunninly arranged to execute a single algorithm, could outperform 55 [] million transistors.

And I also doubt if they were switching several thousand million times a second.
Yes, I know, many of those transistors are cache memory, but still...

Re:Enigma is fairly close to a OTP (1)

Xilman (191715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803367)

AFAIK, the source for this quote is Tony Sale, the guy who lead the Colossus-rebuild project at BP. He certainly claimed in my presence that Colossus was about ten times faster than the program he'd written for Pentium PC (not P4). This would be in summer 1998, when Colossus was just about functional again.

The rebuilt Colossus is an interesting machine, BTW, and well worth going to see. If you get chance to get up real close, don't go poking fingers in it. There's 400V DC on uninsulated conductors.


Re:Enigma is fairly close to a OTP (1)

igb (28052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803422)

You're confusing Colossus (with against Baudot codes) with Bombes (used against Enigma) and, indeed, the Baudot Codes (Tunny, Sturgeon) with Engima. It's difficult to unpick your confusions, but I assume that the massively parallel devie you allude to is Turing's Bombe, fitted with Welchman's diagonal board. [[ Before someone comes in with more mis-information, Turing's bombe attacked conjectured plaintext, using the non-clashing property caused by the reflector wheel, while the Polish bomba attacked the pre-1940 indicator system. The use of similar names was a shocking piece of poor security, but also a tribute to the groundwork of the Polish effort. However, the machines attack very different problems. ]]


and the message is . . . (3, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803014)

Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Re:and the message is . . . (2, Funny)

deadlinegrunt (520160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803050)

Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!

Godwin's Law (1)

Sartak (589317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803028)

Geez, someone better tell these submarine folk that it doesn't count if you specifically invoke Godwin's Law.

OUTGOING (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803040)

42555 42555
09214 09214 37240 37240 79854 79854 16149 16149 57728 57728
91668 91668 06160 06160 54078 54078 86936 86936 45482 45482
94556 94556 56024 56024 45578 45578 70434 70434 73211 73211
15708 15708 47553 47553 54103 54103 57436 57436 62440 62440
09824 09824 27002 27002 95378 95378 91983 91983 39808 39808
86851 86851 13314 13314 38277 38277 19941 19941 53182 53182
83117 83117 69904 69904 19904 19904 74653 74653 31668 31668
72572 72572 75690 75690 85767 85767 12327 12327 05104 05104
67592 67592 39784 39784 66557 66557 71706 71706 22765 22765
60094 60094 55947 55947 28823 28823 00718 00718 10778 10778


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803232)

This is anything but offtopic!

Source code? (1)

ASaidi (105261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803041)

The posted source code doesn't match the posted sha1sums and aren't valid gzip archives.

Re:Source code? (1)

Pathwalker (103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803061)

The copy I downloaded matched the sha1sum.
I've put a copy on my own server if you want to download it from me: enigma-suite-0.73.1.tar.gz [] .

PeeWee Hermann, Go ring the bell! (1)

mookie da wookie (919403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803046)

It's another cracked kraut kode!

Re:PeeWee Hermann, Go ring the bell! (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803079)

FOr KDE, it's known as the Kracked Kraut Kode

Why? (1)

PatTheGreat (956344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803047)

So why exactly are they doing this? Did someone just want to see if they could pull off a distributed computing project, or what?

Re:Why? (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803128)

If you look on this just as an IT story, it is just yet another distributed computing project. But if you are interested in history, it may be different. The messages themselves may be of historical interest, we can't know for sure before they have been decrypted.

Do I have to? (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803058)

Can't I just buy war bonds or something?

Future Global Conflict (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803059)

Assuming we don't annihilate each other in the first 10 minutes of the next global conflict... I wonder if national distributed computing might become something of the norm. Obviously all of the processes would have to be encrypted and redundantly checked by various sources, but I'm curious if the government isn't looking into some sort of national emergency processing procedure.

In the last world war the united states was able to out defeat the enemy in a large part by our incredible industrial efforts, perhaps in the next we'll be able to wield the largest data processing center.

Re:Future Global Conflict (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803386)

In the last world war, it was not just the United States that secured victory. It was the combined efforts and industries of the United States, Britain and her dominions plus Russia.

Many games and movies would have you believe otherwise, but the USA was not alone in WW2.

So where did these messages come from ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803069)

From what I understand at the end of WWII the Brit's destroyed most of what was held at Blechley Park - they wanted people to believe that the Enigma code was secure and that the machines could be used by the nations that captured them (sneaky poms).

So did anyone actually keep the original intercepts ?

Did anyone keep the rotor settings, etc used to decode them ?

These messages (if they still exist) would be a very interesting source of information on what was happening during WWII.

Re:So where did these messages come from ? (1)

Elad Alon (835764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803271)

Why would they destory everything in there? Couldn't they just, you know, go on keeping it secret?

I've got it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803073)

Those aren't encryptions! Those are well-formed Perl programs!

Excuse me... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803078)

Isn't it a bit late to be helping the war effort? It's been about 60 years since the war was over.

Re:Excuse me... (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803313)

Isn't it a bit late to be helping the war effort?

You'd think they could just ask the Germans for the cleartext.

Sorry I thought this was hilarious (2)

[cx] (181186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803089)

"The Enigma Machine was cracked in Poland in 1932,"

I read that and burst out laughing immediately thinking of three Polish soldiers running with the Enigma machine backwards and falling over and cracking the case.

"oh no we have cracked ze case"

"lets get out of here"

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803208)

Actually it was 1942 - a rather important typo. Hell, the Nazis had not even come to power in 1932.

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803225)

Actually, one of the earlier Enigma machines used by the German Army was cracked by Poland in December 1932, so 1932 is correct.

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803239)

yup - I replied before having read the entire article :-(

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (5, Informative)

kiwi77 (957316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803236)

Actualy, if the Poles hadn't been REALLY proactive about truing to break the German Enigma we (the Allies) would have been really fucked. The French had access to Enigma plans but felt that it was impopssible to crack Enigma so they handed all their data to the Poleish intelligence service (Burio Szyfrow)and siad good luck.. Marian Rejewski of the Burio developed an attack on Enigma (absolutely brilliant!!) that actually suceeded in cracking the cipher. The Poles were decrypting German messages on a daily basis until 1938, when the Germans increased the number of scramblers to 5 so that any 3 were available for encryption and also added new plugboards. When Poland was attacked by the Germans the Poles called in the British and gave them spare Enigma replicas they had built, blueprints, and cracking strategies. They were sent to England in diplomatic pouches via Paris. smuggled across the Channel by a French playwrite and his actress wife, so as not to be detected by Geman spies at the Channel ports. Laugh all you want to, but the Poles made it possible to win World War II.

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (1)

kiwi77 (957316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803244)

Sorry about the spelling errors. It's late and I should be in bed.

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803506)

Well, I think the fact that the Germans attacked Russia/Soviet Union, instead of just going on and taking over Britain made it a lot more likely for them to lose WWII...

Even though they had a chance of winning, the cost was very high.

If they had done it the other way round, they'd have much of western Europe, and there'll be just USA, Germany, USSR in the North Atlantic.

Re:Sorry I thought this was hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803427)

Your ignorance and stupidity shows.

To get the client (1)

dlichterman (868464) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803110)

You must remove the coral cache part to download the client.....

Isn't this against US law? (1)

lostngone (855272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803115)

Isn't it against U.S. to break this kind of encryption?

Re:Isn't this against US law? (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803243)

Perhaps to export it FROM the US, yes. Only thing is - it wasn't invented in the US. Or maybe you are referring to the DMCA? In that case, let's see how well the Germans are protected by US law.

Us...... (1) (632313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803137)

Im sure if 1/10th of the /. people where to run this we could crack it in a day or two.

Re:Us...... (1)

florisje (957334) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803492)

i guess that's sort of happening right now.
at this time 230 chunks are returned every hour.
yesterday around this time that was only 75, and there was a big speedup yesterday, so /. wasn't the first to discover it, i think.
if i'm calculating correctly it should be finished in 13 days at current speed but the speedup is skyrocketing.

i wonder if he's keeping an eye on it today or how he will react when he enters office tomorrow morning and sees it's finished :)

multi threading? (-1)

ClickWir (166927) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803138)

Poor thing isn't multi threaded.

CIA "Kryptos" Code (1)

nonXero (953766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803167)

I'm curious if distributed computing could be used to crack the CIA "Kryptos" code designed by James Sandborn. In 1988, the CIA selected Sanborn's entry called "Kryptos" (meaning "hidden" in greek) to design the monument at CIA headquarters. Mr. Sandborn worked with retired CIA cryptographer to devise codes used in the sculpture. Mr. Sandborn wrote the text to coded in collaboration with a prominent fiction writer. James Sanborn is noted for saying "They will be able to read what I wrote, but what I wrote is a mystery itself." Only two people have been able to crack 3/4's of the kryptos code - A computer scientist. The other, a physicist. The remaining message is still unknown. []

Cryptonomicon! (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803230)

Cool, I'm re-reading Cryptonomicon and this goes right along with that. I like how Neal Stephenson's books merge so well into real science and history. The only trick is in remembering which is true and which is fiction. :)

Re:Cryptonomicon! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803328)

Turing could have accomplished a hell of a lot in the following years. Who knows? We might have seen genuine early advances in AI, since he was showing an interest in it.

Only one problem... (1)

Lazbien (788979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803233)

No spraken da deutche...

Re:Only one problem... (1)

WillerZ (814133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803309)

Sie konnen nicht Deutsch sprechen? Was fu ein lamer...

on-demand bombing (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803246)

One way to speed up the decryption: when decryption of a certain message took too long, they would request the RAF a bombardment of a harbor or city. Odds were fairly high that after the bombardment the next messages would contain the name of the city or harbor, probably as well as the word 'bombardment'. Also weather forecasts were often included.
Once they knew that, encryption was sped up fast.

And no, despite the Hollywood-movie suggests: it were the Brittons that captured the Enigma.

Re:on-demand bombing (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803385)

That depends on how you're defining "The Enigma".

We captured a machine from U110 in 1941, but I think that was one of the older, non-M4, models. The British also captured the naval codebooks from U559, which enabled us to work out how the M4 worked.

A copy of the original 3 rotor Enigma was given to us, and the French, by the Polish in 1939. The Polish had been breaking German signals for sometime before the invasion of Poland, iirc.

The film "U-571" is actually a combination of various seperate events, some of them carried out by the British and some by the Americans. It's just a shame they only felt the need to mention Britain's part in the text at the end. As I recall, that boat was actually sunk by the Australians.

I cracked one of them (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803262)

It says: "How hard is it to get Argentinian citizenship? Over."

It's not the message, but THE message that matters (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803282)

Anything and everything is breakable. Something that is done can be undone. In a game of cat (crypto) and mouse (cracker), if you throw in enough mouse, cat will loose.

It's not the quest to hide driving us to progress, it's the quest to find the answer. Yes, the universe is one big encrypted answer to all our quests. One day, if we throw in enough theories, we just might find that answer to that very question we have been pondering since the dawn of the ages...

"God, A/S/L?"

Re:It's not the message, but THE message that matt (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803364)

Anything and everything is breakable. Something that is done can be undone. In a game of cat (crypto) and mouse (cracker), if you throw in enough mouse, cat will loose.

People say it so frequently that it has became a cliche - but it's not true. A simple example of uncrackable encryption is the one-time pad [] cipher. Its absolute security is mathematically proven. However, in real life all the ciphers are applied by human beings and therefore they are vulnerable to the residual error margin. In real usage, safety of the used encription algorithm rarely is the weakest link in your chain of vulnerabilities. The weakest point are the people who apply the cipher - they will reuse their one-time pad, leave a briefcase in a taxi, keep their password on a sticky note attached to the monitor, defect, sell their secrets to the highest bidder etc., just because inevitably some of them will became bored, frustrated, drunk, corrupted or just plain stupid. While it's just not true, that what can be done, can be undone (it's very easy to name a few counterexamples - like death etc.), it's true that as soon as your cipher is no longer a mathematical curiosity but is being passed to flesh and blood human beigns - it's no longer safe no matter what mathematical genius was behind its creation.

The 2nd message is (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803307)

asdfasdfahdfhrlfslfdjfjjhsjdgsfduyghsudighsdhgshgs dkghksfdgkjsfgklsdhfglkshglsghgkjldhlkjdhhahahahai rule

Break this code (1)

DJ Manning (824830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803314)

A hint to the M4 project team, in code seeing as how they like to waste there time decoding enigma messages.

I'll even give a few hints, the plugboard settings are AB - ER - HT - IX - LZ - OU, the rotor types are 3 - 4 - 1 and the rotor starting positions are 21 - 9 - ?.
Find out what the ? is and you'll be able to read the message.

Note, use Russell Schwager's "The Enigma Machine" [] as previously noted by Derling Whirvish in his post []

Decoded message (1)

void bear(void) (930003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803339)

"All your uboat belong to us"

Why don't we just ask them? (1)

fromme (834062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803345)

I'm sure the Germans will tell if they're asked nicely

I have cracked the other two (4, Funny)

Yeechang Lee (3429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803348)

After putting a Beowulf cluster to work, I've deciphered the remaining two unsolved Enigma messages. It turns out that one is a reply to the other. Of course, one can never be sure whether a decryption is correct, but the perfect German in the messages convinces me that I've got them right, as you can see:

"Sieg Heil! Zis is U-571. Ze Amerikan destroyer is pwning us! After zat last depth charge, all our blinkenlights are flashing crazily! What do we do?"

"Achtung! Achtung! Brest here. Unfortunately, ze RAF Bomber Command pwn3d us last night and ze submarine pens are kaput, so you cannot return from your tour early. Remember, Kapitan, what happens to schweinhunds zat are cowards; zhey get sent to the Russian Front! Follow the example of your Luftwaffe friend Colonel Klink and watch out, or you will be given ze boot from Das Boot!"

Questionable Legality (4, Interesting)

baudbarf (451398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803351)

Doesn't the DMCA make it illegal to make tools for breaking encryption or even to discuss how encryption may be broken? Aren't those among us who are americans all conspiring to break federal law by attempting or discussing the possibility of attempting to break these enigma messages?

You're all terrorists. Off to Guantanamo with you.

Re:Questionable Legality (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803461)

You may want to read up on the DMCA, which makes it illegal to make or distribute technology that may be used to circumvent copy protection. I know making irrelevant references to DMCA has been flavour de jour on Slashdot for the past 5 years, but it doesn't have much at all to do with encryption in gerenal (only certain kinds/uses of encryption).

Since it is unlikely that anyone would consider using Enigma for any kind of copy protection or DRM, breaking Enigma would not be a problem for DMCA. Even if someone were crazy enough to use Enigma for some form of copy protection, it probably wouldn't make a difference. Most distributed projects to crack encryption schemes (which are generally used for copy-protection) are fine, because they only crack the key for a limited set of messages, so cannot directly be used to break copy-protection.

Further to that, we already know how Enigma worked. They just don't know the "key" for these particular messages. This is an effort to crack those 3 messages, not to perform a cryptographic attack on Enigma.

Historical information ! (4, Funny)

droopycom (470921) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803354)

I've heard from an anonymous source in the US intelligence community that British Intelligence has informed the White House that the newly decrypted enigma messages contains information regarding Irak WMD locations, and clear indication of the Saddam-Osama link...

Enigma simulations (2, Informative)

Dirk DefCom (957326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803387)

I you would like to use an Enigma machine yourself, just go to this website: [] There's an awardwinning Enigma simulation. This program is an exact simulation of the 3-rotor Wehrmacht and the famous 4-rotor Kriegmarine M4 model of the German Enigma cipher machine, used during World War II from 1939 until 1945. You can select between the two models, actually choose different rotors or 'Walzen', preset the rotor wiring positions or 'Ringstellung' and switch letters by using plugs or 'Stecker'. The internal wiring of all rotors is identical to those used by the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. Fully compatible with the real Enigma-machine, and you can decode original messages and make your own encoded text!

Second Message Now Cracked (3, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803388)

The second message has now been cracked and it contained three interesting bits of 'technology history'...

It warned other units that a local garage mechanic had offered to 'improve' their Enigma machine to make it run faster, but after he left they discovered he'd inserted a small additional module which meant that whatever was transmitted, there was an extra last line which read "Come to Fritz's autos for a great deal on used Volkswagens". The cracked message told all other users only to visit trusted garages and not accept any offers of performance upgrades because such offers were the work of 'trojan enemy conspirators that operated like an unwanted virus in the body of our glorious Fatherland'.

There were also complaints of many false messages being received that decoded into offers to supply the German solders with 'processed meat rations' captured from allied troops - the cracked message warned Enigma users to ignore the flood of 'unwanted messages about spam that deflect focus from our vital war efforts' and not to reply as this only confirmed that the messages were being received, which guaranteed even more 'spam messages'.

The final bit of the decoded message related to trials with a new rotor wiring system produced by a local engineer. Apparently, the system promised to make the Enigma machines easier to use, but the coloured insulation on the wiring was rubbing away, (presumably an interaction between the synthetic dyes being used with early, less stable plastics), exposing the conductors and causing the whole machine to short circuit and stop working ('die' as the message coldly put it). The cracked message warned other users to check their rotors to see whether they had any of the 'brightly coloured experimental wiring' and if so, to stop using them and return the rotors to 'Wilhelm Gatz' if they identified the so-called 'blue screening of death'.

Another message broken! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803489)

They've broken another of the messages, it seems. It's a rather lengthy one, and begins with ""Greetings sir/madam! I am the dictator and military ruler of a large Central European country. My predecessors hid our national budget in offshore banks, and I need your help in withdrawing them..."

Why does it need such a lot of work? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803495)

4 out of 6 rotors, 26 setting each, gives us 164,511,360 possible combinations. It can't require that much processing power to emulate the machine since we're just doing table lookups.

Presumably we just need to Decode the message with each of these settings, and look for the ones with irregular character distribution. With a modern computer, we can't be looking at an implausible amount of time. Might take a few minutes to go through that keyspace, but I can't imagine it would take more than an hour.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>