Hundred fifth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2006 21:29:15 +0200)

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Crypto

BBC News reports that three German ciphers are finally being cracked with the help of thousands of home computers. The codes resisted the best efforts of the celebrated Allied cryptographers based at Bletchley Park during the war.

The three unsolved Enigma intercepts were published in a cryptography journal in 1995 and have intrigued enthusiasts ever since. Although assumed to have little historical significance, they are thought to be among just a handful of German naval ciphers in existence still to be decoded.

The latest attempt to crack the codes was kick-started by Stefan Krah, a German-born violinist with an interest in cryptography and open-source software. He wrote a code-breaking program and publicised his project on internet newsgroups, attracting the interest of about 45 users, who all allowed their machines to be used for the project. Mr Krah named the project M4, in honour of the M4 Enigma machine that originally encoded the ciphers. In little over a month an apparently random combination of letters had been decoded into a real wartime communication. In its encrypted form the cipher makes no sense at all, reading as follows:

NCZW VUSX PNYM INHZ XMQX SFWX WLKJ AHSH NMCO CCAK
UQPM KCSM HKSE INJU SBLK IOSX CKUB HMLL XCSJ USRR
DVKO HULX WCCB GVLI YXEO AHXR HKKF VDRE WEZL XOBA
FGYU JQUK GRTV UKAM EURB VEKS UHHV OYHA BCJW MAKL
FKLM YFVN RIZR VVRT KOFD ANJM OLBG FFLE OPRG TFLV
RHOW OPBE KVWM UQFM PWPA RMFH AGKX IIBG

The decoded message reads:

"Forced to submerge during attack. Depth charges. Last enemy position 0830h AJ 9863, [course] 220 degrees, [speed] 8 knots. [I am] following [the enemy]. [barometer] falls 14 mb, [wind] nor-nor-east, [force] 4, visibility 10 [nautical miles]."

Get the complete story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/technology/4763854.stm


Voice stations | Morse stations | Various modes
Unid stations | Military stations | Crypto
Intelligence profile : Belarus | Enigma challenge | Logs
Index | NS NL Home

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