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Encryption Security Science

Do-It-Yourself Electronic Enigma Machine 213

Posted by timothy
from the beats-pig-latin dept.
Radio Shack Robot writes "The Enigma-E is a DIY Building Kit that enables you to build your own electronic variant of the famous Enigma coding machine that was used by the German army during WWII. It works just like a real Enigma and is compatible with an M3 and M4 Enigma as well as the standard Service Machines. A message encrypted on, say, a real Enigma M4 can be read on the Enigma-E and vice versa."
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Do-It-Yourself Electronic Enigma Machine

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  • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:11AM (#8354713)
    Understanding the past is a key to ruling the future.

    It's just like how American-Indian "Windtalkers" could befudle opposing intercepters simply by speaking their native language. It's really hard to crack a code when you don't know what the encoding process used was in the first place. You can't brute force guess keys until you know what you're supposed to do with them.
  • Building replicas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by defectorg (574483) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:14AM (#8354720)
    This guy [enigma-replica.com] is making a replica [enigma-replica.com] of an Enigma.
    Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ertel is working on making duplicates which you can buy completely build here [fh-weingarten.de].
  • by Nakito (702386) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:24AM (#8354736)
    why not just make a software replica?

    Maybe for the same reason that it's more fun to fly an airplane than to fly MS Flight Simulator, even if you're not flying an F-16. Simulations are nice, but sometimes you just want to get away from your computer and play with tangible things. And just because it's not the historical Enigma doesn't mean it's not cool in its own right.
  • by Ckwop (707653) <Simon.Johnson@gmail.com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:24AM (#8354887) Homepage
    Longer keys are not better.

    The point of cryptography is to take a big secret, like a file, and turn it into a little secret which is the key. The idea being that a small secret is easier to protect than the bigger one.

    A key that's 256,000 bytes long is a key that defeats the object of cryptography. How do you intend on storing 256,000 bytes securely?

    People use 128-bit keys for a reason. They're big enough to avoid brute-force but small enough so that we can remember them (usually via a passphrase). We always want the *smallest* possible key that gives us security against brute-force.

    Simon.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:34AM (#8354897) Homepage
    Of course, I will now be modded down as an anti-German racist

    Well, no. You should be modded down as an anti-soldier bigot.

    There's a very good chance that your country has soldiers engaged in a military action that others see as warfare against an ethnic group. Presumably those soldier continue their action because they have promised on their honour to uphold their country's decisions.

    Should the US soldier in Iraq be shunned for participating in an illegal war? Should the Israeli soldier dropping bombs on Palestinian houses be scapegoated for killing civilians?

    Well, yes, probably they should: the world would be a lot better if every common person were to just act decently toward every other human being.

    But we don't: they are soldiers who committed to doing what they are being told by our own elected governments to do, and out of respect for that commitment we promise to look after them for life.

    Well, okay, maybe not for life, as some of our countries seem a little too eager to cut back veteran's pay and healthcare and long-term group home care. But for most of their life. An admittedly short life given that some of our countries seem a little too reluctant to supply airworthy helicopters or bulletproof vests.

    Come to think of it, maybe our own nations are anti-soldier bigots. How ironic...
  • by TygerFish (176957) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @08:53AM (#8355019)
    Of course, I will now be modded down as an anti-German racist

    Well, no. You should be modded down as an anti-soldier bigot.


    The former poster wrote about the German Government's maintaining pensions to former Nazi soldiers without regard to actions during their service (e.g., a mass-murderer getting extra money for being wounded trying to escape). He suggests that there is an injustice in this because nazi victims often received less compensation.

    The latter poster, claiming that the former is bigoted against soldiers is missing or ignoring the former's main (and quite simple) point: people who should have been tried for crimes against humanity should probably not receive more compensation than those who narrowly escaped them.

    In arguing for a nation's love for and responsibility to the men who serve it as soldiers, and extending it by obtuse omission to war-criminals, the second poster ignores historical precedent and insults the soldiers of every army that ever had fought for any decent purpose.

    The outcome of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem made it perfectly clear that *some* military orders (shooting unarmed civilians, murdering soldiers who surrender, etc.) should not and cannot be obeyed.

    When such orders are given, it is the soldier's duty to think not of his country but of civilisation and do whatever is necessary to not carry out those orders and some soldiers have actually done just that--like Israeli pilots who refused to take part in missions against the palestinians.

    The comparison of Nazi units charged murdering jews, allied prisoners, securing slave-labor, etc. is particularly insulting in that the United State's invasion and occupation of Iraq is one of the worst decisions an American President has made in decades. The whole thing was and is a bad idea--a stupid and naive pursuit of political gain and personal desire which can in no way be seen as commensurate with the United State's security, nor with the stability of the Middle-East.

    I believe all of this is true with respect to the dog's breakfast of policy in Iraq, however the mission brief of U.S. soldiers currently serving in the Gulf probably does not include 'aid in the work of rounding up the intelligentsia for early extermination,' nor any one of scores of other tasks that the Nazis acommplished throughout occupied Europe.

    For the sake of intellectual rigor if nothing else, Please think through your comparisons more thoroughly in future.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @09:20AM (#8355080)
    Not quite true - Enigma wa scracked not only through brillant code breaking, but through a technique even older than computers - steal the device used to enchiper the message, along with the code books. The Brits captured two devices, plus the vital encoding information, from two German submarines. The US captured one when the U505 was boarded and captured in the North Atlantic. The Poles, if I recall correctly, also captured a device - an Army one though, not a Navy one.

    Key was the codes used to set the wheels - that enabled decryption of messages for the period that the code was used. Of course, since Enigma used a sophisticated non-repeating cypher (at least for short messages), the Germans believed it uncrackable and failed to take precautions when faced with the possibility. Of course, we made the same assumptions about our codes during the Cold war, only to later discover the USSR used the age old technique on us - pay someone to steal them.

    Interestingly enough, the US used a variant for coding messages well into the '70s., giving US subamariners a strange link to their WWII German counterparts.
  • by CaptJay (126575) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @09:48AM (#8355133) Homepage
    Maybe offtopic, but such discussion is bound to happen on anything related to WWII.

    I would only like to respectfully point out a few things. It doesn't say what I think as clearly as I would like, but bear with me.

    1) The definition of a war crime varies widely from person to person. If we are talking about deliberate attacks/massacres on civilians, then I am certain you could dig up quite a few American (and other Allies) veterans who fall in that category and still have their pensions. Have you read about Dresden? The allies planned their bombings on the surrounding cities and left Dresden intact so the refugees would all be packed there. And then dropped one of the deadliest bombings in WWII on their heads. We're talking bombing a city packed with refugees, with no military value, to kill over 30,000 people in a day.

    2) Never forget that the "justice" of war is always that of the victorious side, and therefore, in my opinion, it is no justice at all. When the defeated party kills thousands of civilians, it's a war crime. When the victor does just about the same, well, it sucks, but it was war.

    Quote from the first link up in google for Dresden World War bombing) [valourandhorror.com]:

    [British Chief Marshal Sir Arthur] Harris, however, remained unrepentant, commenting on Churchill's objection that he did not regard 'the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier'. Even so, Dresden remains the prime example cited by those who condemn the morality of 'city busting' as practised by the Anglo-US bombing forces and was still a matter of contention in 1992 when a statue of Harris was unveiled in London."

    Was there a tribunal to investigate possible war crimes by Allied troups in WWII? Of course not: they won. Therefore, we necessarily know more about horrible acts commited by the defeated party than we do for the winning one.

    I'm not defending Nazi Germany policies of mass exterminations. They are a clear example of humanity gone wrong. But while they are not on the same scale as other examples, they are not the only example of humans gone wrong. And that is my point: nothing is absolute when it comes to human nature.

    Have you ever visited Germany, or walked grounds ravaged by war? Seen the legacy of damage done by both sides? Visited Dresden? The concentration camps sites? Talked with people who were there when the bombs fell and survived? I did. And I found there even more truth in a saying some here would recognize : "Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth."

  • M4 Enigma? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spunk (83964) <sq75b5402@sneakemail.com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @12:06PM (#8355675) Homepage
    Wait a minute....

    $ which m4
    /usr/bin/m4

    I already have this installed!
  • by Nakito (702386) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:14PM (#8356038)
    Your wrongness is astounding. . . . I'll never read the comments on slashdot again."

    The comments on Slashdot are a kind of peer review system. Errors are often quickly pointed out, opinions are rebutted, and we all meander slowly toward better knowledge. That's what I like about it. It's not a bug, it's a feature.
  • by TygerFish (176957) on Monday February 23, 2004 @02:02AM (#8360107)
    Lastly, I would agree we are making a mistake in our handling of the Iraqi Situation - I think we should just pack up & leave. We accomplished the removal of Saddam, they can figure out their own destiny without further US handholding. If they go fundamentalist, so be it, it's their sovereign right to make that decision.


    Thank god this has probably gone below the radar of moderation, because this opinion is not going to make me in any way popular.

    There is a thing in history called, 'Realpolitik,' a German word meaning 'real politics'--'politics in the real world. In essence, it is what policymakers use to make political judgements before the ideas behind those judgements are brought into the light of day--what they are before they are sold to a congress or 'spun' to the media.

    One of the reasons the Iraq war and occupation suck is that it is a policy which ignores history and sociology. It is easy to say that we should let them sort it out, but the simple fact is, now that we've gone this far, we can't do that without risking our real and imagined interests in the region.

    Our interests in the region involves the absence of conflict between the countries there and their alliance with or respect for the west because we in the United States are trapped in a culture that is dependent on the overuse of energy.

    We don't conserve energy. We don't protect against greenhouse gasses and the current administration has even offered a tax-credit equaling the price of the vehicle for companies which choose to buy fuel-inefficient vehicles (i,e., if you are in the right tax-bracket and own, or create a company, and have the cash, your Humvee is free courtesy of the U.S. government).

    We live in a culture (and under a government) that desires to preserve for as long as possible the illusion that economies dependent upon cheap oil are indefinitely sustainable and without adverse consequences. Our national policy reflects this. With this in mind, using 9/11 as an excuse ('we were attacked'), the Administration has brought us into a war of choice to replace the Iraqi dictator. Unfortunately, this is idiotic policy because Saddam Hussein was the leader of the most modernized Islamic nations--the one with the greatest tolerance for religions other than Islam, and the one which offered the greatest freedom and opportunity for women.

    As critics pointed out during the run-in to the invasion, replacing Saddam Hussein released decades religious conflict that Hussein's regime effectively suppressed.

    Now that Hussein is gone, the shiite moslems are vying for power, creating the threat that they will join with Iran to increase the population and the economic strength of a known U.S. enemy, while fundamentalists from inside and outside Iraq are working to sabotage the United State's efforts to impress the Iraqi people with our benevolence and desire to create a democracy that is friendly to the west. Add to this the very real possibility of actual civil war which could spread throughout the region and you have a situation that has gone from our using diplomacy to simply keep a cork on a nasty little dictator from a distance to one where it is absolutely vital that we spend billions of dollars and hundreds of lives trying to *bring* stability to a region that already had it.

    This brings us at last to question of the morality of leaving the region to its own devices. When it comes to realpolitik, leaders ignore it at their peril as they do all other aspects of reality in their decision-making. Part of the reality of the situation in Iraq is that Saddam Hussein took care of our interests and he did it for free.

    More importantly, one thing that is not played up by the U.S. media is that simple fact that had Hussein ever actually abused the Iraqi people to the point where they spontaneously rose up against him, they would have won because the Iraqi people were armed during Hussein's rule a fact which is born out by at least one instance of a U.S. patrol's 'returning fire' at a wedding where fully automatic weapons were fired in the air, just as they were during Hussein's rule.

    Peace be with you.

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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