Tuesday, March 7, 2006


Online amateurs crack Nazi codes

I am no security expert, but encryption fascinates me and I do my best to keep the architectures I work on "safe". This story about the three German ciphers that have been unsolved since World War II is interesting. The codes resisted the best efforts of the Allied cryptographers Bletchley Park during the war but one has finally been solved by a grid computing effort like Seti @ Home:

The advancement in German encryption techniques led to significant Allied losses in the North Atlantic throughout 1942. The three unsolved Enigma intercepts were published in a cryptography journal in 1995 and have intrigued enthusiasts ever since.

Mr Krah told the BBC News website that "basic human curiosity" had motivated him to crack the codes, but stressed the debt he owed to veteran code breaking enthusiasts who have spent years researching Enigma.

The M4 project, named  in honor of the M4 Enigma has ~2.500 clients working on the ciphers.

"The most amazing thing about the project is the exponential growth of participants. All I did myself was to announce it in two news groups and on one mailing list."
Stefan Krah's computerised codebreaking software uses a combination of "brute force" and algorithmic attempts to get at the truth. The combined approach increases the chances of stumbling across a match by recreating possible combinations of plugboard swaps while methodically working through combinations of rotor settings.

Via PhysOrg Weblog
Updated: fixed the link to Seti @ Home

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