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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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  • What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PacoTaco (577292) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:50AM (#8354651)
    If you're not going to do the real thing, why not just make a software replica?
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:03AM (#8354696) Homepage

      If you're not going to do the real thing, why not just make a software replica?

      What kind of geek are you? Don't you find it cool to have tons of useless hardware laying around???

      • What kind of geek are you? Don't you find it cool to have tons of useless hardware laying around???

        Hey! Real geeks find it cool to have useless software and useless hardware lying around!!! Anyway I'm off to play The Grinch on my dreamcast... ;-)

    • 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.
      • Yeah...I'd definitely consider flying planes and playing with old encryption techniques on the same level.
        It's cool in its own right (which for me is mostly just novelty) but it's also not cool in a lot of others. I'd personally prefer to spend my time away from my computer playing with tangible things that aren't just basically old computers.
      • 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.

        Ah, but there's an important difference. A flight simulator is not functionally equivalent to flying a plane. Flying a plane can get you from A to B much quicker than driving. It is a form of transportation. A flight simulator will get you nowhere.

        A software enigma however is functionally equivalent to the real thing. Both can encrypt and decrypt the same messages. One

    • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mm0mm (687212) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:55AM (#8354773)
      If you're not going to do the real thing, why not just make a software replica?
      1. just preference
      2. educational purposes
      3. more tangible interface than multi-tasking keyboard/mouse + monitor
      4. hobbyist mentality
      5. nostalgia to pre-PC era

      there are ways to achieve the same result, and obviously some people prefer harder and more time-consuming way. Also for some people writing code may take more time than building a DIY kit. some people prefer to drive 67 mustang than 03 accord or mercedes. others ride a bicycle.
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by eclectro (227083) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:04AM (#8354783)

      Steve Ciarcia of Circuit Cellar [circuitcellar.com] fame once said "Soldering iron is my favorite computer language."

      Well, it's mine too. For those who don't know who Steve is, there was this magazine on the newstands that was really cool to read and it was called "Byte" [byte.com]. Steve ranked up there with the Woz for hardware crafting.

      I remember back in the day when you would go to the store and it was the only computer magazine there.

      If you like crafting hardware, you can have a lot of fun by finding a library (most likely university) that has the back issues shelved somewhere.

      Yes, I'm older than most of you here.

      • by beaverfever (584714) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @08:58AM (#8355031) Homepage
        I remember back in the day when you would go to the store and it was the only computer magazine there. ...and we'd have to walk 40 miles in the rain, up hill, to get to the store, and when we got there, magazines were only a nickel, but we'd have to save for a month just to get that nickel. Anyways, we'd get home with our magazines and read them by the light of an oil lamp, and we were happy!

        Oh those computers, they were as big as a barn, and every time we booted them we'd have to punch in every line of *bonk!*
      • I donno.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:31AM (#8355511) Homepage Journal
        I wouldnt put Steve on the same level as Woz.

        Steve is smart, dont get me wrong, and did a lot of cool things ( yes i remember back then too, or even earlier with Popular Electronics.... ) but Steve had much more modern chips to work with, and used databooks for 'ideas' far too often..

        Woz had to come up with the stuff from scratch...
    • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MobyTurbo (537363) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:07AM (#8354793) Homepage
      I recall reading that the original Unix crypt(3) algorithm was based on the Enigma machine. It was picked specifically because it was already broken, so that the NSA wouldn't complain. Nowadays POSIX (and Linux) crypt(3) uses DES to encrypt, though there are known ways to break crypt's implementation of DES too. (Thus one should enable shadow password files. :-) )
  • Original Messages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:51AM (#8354653) Homepage

    I wonder if there is anywhere to get original Nazi Enigma messages to decode.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Try here [nazi.org].
      • by Anonymous Coward
        What do they have to do with the Green Party, anyhow?

        Or were all those trollish (?) rumours of eco-Nazis true!?
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Safety Cap (253500) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:54AM (#8354670) Homepage Journal
      We've also got a first in the manual: Frode Weierud and Geoff Sullivan, two well respected Enigma researchers,
      have aquired a large number of original German army messages, which have never been published before. Especially for the Enigma-E, they've released some of these messages, complete with the related Enigma settings and decrypts.
      • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Funny)

        by dj245 (732906)
        Now if only Bablefish could translate German with half the accuracy with which the Enigma machine decodes messages...

        "Space Chase" translated to italian, to german, to french, to english, is "continuation of sector".

    • by Penguinshit (591885) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:13AM (#8354717) Homepage Journal

      Here you go..

      Decode this. [216.10.109.153]
    • "I wonder if there is anywhere to get original Nazi Enigma messages to decode."

      Yes but where can I get some original Nazi's to send them to?
      • Re:Original Messages (Score:5, Informative)

        by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:35AM (#8354835) Journal
        Yes but where can I get some original Nazi's to send them to?

        Well, the flippant answer is Argentina (Or Brazil).

        On a more serious note, you might try Latvia [www.dol.ru]; in 1998 about 500 Latvians, former members of the Waffen-SS marched through Riga to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the SS.

        Up until 1996, you could have looked in Indiana in the United States [aeronautics.ru]:

        Kazys Ciurinskas, a former member of the Lithuanian SS division accused of killing Russian and Lithuanian Jews and POWs, lived in Indiana since the end of the war. Ciurinskas collected a $540 monthly pension from the German government since 1960 while living in the US and being a US citizen. In a 1995-97 United States of America v. Kazys Ciurinskas case the US District Court in Indiana stripped Ciurinskas of US citizenship.

        Interestingly, the amount of the pension paid to these former SS by the German government varies based on their final rank in the SS -- higher ranks get a bigger pension. Only recently -- and only after international pressure -- did the German government modify its pension law to strip the pension from war criminals, and even so, there is no requirement that any investigation be made of recipients, nor is there any mechanism to do so, so even known war criminals can continue to collect payments from the German government.

        Ironically, some war criminals even receive, in addition to their normal pensions what are called "victim's" pensions -- including those believed to have massacred American soldiers. The following [remember.org] was written in 1997, and thus may be slightly out of date:

        The well-respected German military historian Gerhard Schreiber estimates the number of war criminals receiving these extra payments from the German government at 50,000. Wolfgang Lehnigk-Emden, from Ochtendung near Koblenz, is one of the "victims." According to a German federal court, Lehnigk-Emden killed 15 unarmed women and children in Caiazzo near Naples in Italy in October 1943. Because Lehnigk-Emden was later injured (shot in the leg) while trying to escape from an allied POW camp and suffers a mild handicap, he receives an additional "victim" pension.

        Another current recipient of victim pensions is the former SS Hauptsturm-fuhrer Wilhelm Mohnke. Mohnke, who was a close confidant of Adolf Hitler and commandant of the "Fuhrerbunker" in Berlin during Hitler's last days. According to the US Department of Justice "there is very substantial evidence pointing to Wilhelm Mohnke's personal involvement in the perpetration of Nazi war crimes" -- for his role in the massacre of 72 American POWs in 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge.

        At the same time that Germany provides monthly pension payments to former members of the SS and war criminals, persons forced to be slave laborers for the Nazi regime get far less [tomhayden.com]:

        [U]nder an agreement... brokered by the U.S. and German governments, however, survivors of slave labor under the Nazis will be awarded only $790 each for back pay and a lump sum of $7,894 each in recognition of the 55-year delay. Those who were exploited as "forced labor," such as Nazi prisoners working in agriculture, will get a mere $5,000 each.

        So, frankly, any Old Folks (Pensioner's) Home in Germany should provide you with plenty of "original Nazis", living comfortably thanks to the largess of the current German government, while their victims -- those who survived at all, those who haven't died while waiting for their reparations -- continue to suffer.

        (Of course, I will now be modded down as an anti-German racist [slashdot.org], becaus

        • 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.

        • Waffen SS was the expanded military organisation of the SS. Also regular soldiers and foreigners (as Lituavia) served in this group. It was a kind of elite corps compared to Wehrmacht with harder policy.

          /*At the same time that Germany provides monthly pension payments to former members of the SS and war criminals, persons forced to be slave laborers for the Nazi regime get far less:*/

          A soldier is also a slave laborer :-)

          This comparison is wrong. No German government today (and esp. not the current Socia

          • I was going to call a close to this contentious thread, until I say the parent post, which blames the treatment of slave laborers on the Allies:

            Blame the problems for 'slave workers' on the allied forces that didn't make a rule

            Holy Christ. How about we blame problems for slave laborers (and I'll dispense with your disbelieving quote marks) on the fucking Nazis who enslaved them???

            No, you want to blame the Allies???

            Don't forget that in London the Queen even erected a memorial for a war criminal. And
    • by Kinniken (624803) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @07:33AM (#8354895) Homepage
      Is that once you have decoded them, which is a cool, "geek" task, they are in German! And translating German to English or whatever your language is is much less fun and much harder for the average geek ;-)
  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:51AM (#8354654) Journal
    Here's my [cpan.org] Electronic Enigma Machine.
    • by Ragica (552891) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:28AM (#8355493) Homepage
      Python [python.org], infinitely useful "out of the box", has come bundled with a module called "rotor [python.org]" which is basically an enigma-like scrambler. You can add as many rotors as you like to your digital enigma-like machine.

      Sadly this module has been marked for deprecation in python 2.3, though it is still there. I found the module very useful for some things --- a simple, light weight encryption can be a handy thing. Everyone knows that it is weak encryption these days though... but still useful, in my opinion.

  • by pajor (310214) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:51AM (#8354655) Homepage
    Who would want an electronic version of the Enigma machine? You could just code one up in python or even write a bash script. If I was gonna build an enigma, it better have all the gears and knobs that an original one did.

    Maybe I don't understand WWII fandom, but I understand geekfandom, and if you're going to build something that used to be a gear device, I don't wanna emulate it on my dreamcast.

    Now what would be cool is to build the vacuum tube based machine the allies used to crack various codes...
    • Who would want an electronic version of the Enigma machine? You could just code one up in python or even write a bash script.

      Yeah, but having the quasi-real *hardware* is cool, too.

      Now what would be cool is to build the vacuum tube based machine the allies used to crack various codes...

      I don't know about tubes, but transistors would be good (less problems, easier to replace). Either way it would be nice to have some replica hardware, just for nostalgia if nothing else. Knowing that modern computer

    • by kinema (630983) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:18AM (#8354726)
      Maybe people just want a new elctronic device so they can attempt to port Linux and/or NetBSD.
    • Unfortunately, in a completely incomprehensible fit of apparent insanity, Churchill ordered Colossus and its plans destroyed after WWII. It's strange that someone who was otherwise quite far-sighted (after visiting Bletchley, his memo read something like 'Give them everything they ask for immediately' ) could throw away a major technological advance.
      • You mean the man who dragged Europe into a war to save Poland? But then surrendered them to the communists? The same Churchill who agreed to surrender half of Europe to soviet occupation? who agreed to long term leases that bankrupted the UK well into the 60's and ultimately caused the collapse of the Empire?
    • If I was gonna build an enigma, it better have all the gears and knobs that an original one did.

      Enigma-replica [enigma-replica.com]. Though this guy tries to make all the parts as an original, he uses a lot of plastic rather than metal.

    • You mean like this? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nick_Gunz (141133)
      Now what would be cool is to build the vacuum tube based machine the allies used to crack various codes...

      The bombe [demon.co.uk] was the first significant such electo-mechanical device used by the allies. Based on the Polish Bomba, incidentally.

      Later they turned to Colossus [codesandciphers.org.uk], thought by many to be the first true computer.

      Both are being rebuilt at Bletchely Park by a team of volunteers. Very cool, in my opinion.
  • How does it work ?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vinit79 (740464) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:52AM (#8354660)
    I looked at the site and the manuals arent online. I there any information abt how the enigma coding actually work ????
    • by Bobdoer (727516) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:55AM (#8354673) Homepage Journal
      This page [codesandciphers.org.uk] explains Enigma fairly well.
    • by OverlordQ (264228) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:56AM (#8354681) Journal
      The Enigma machine was a simple cipher machine. It had several components: a plug board, a light board, a keyboard, a set of rotors, and a reflector (half rotor). The original machine looked a lot like a typewriter.

      The machine has several variable settings that affect the operation of the machine. The user must select three rotors from a set of rotors to be used in the machine. A rotor contains one-to-one mappings of all the letters. Some Enigma machines had more than 3 rotors which just added to the number of possible encryption combinations. The other variable element in the machine is the plug board. The plug board allowed for pairs of letters to be remapped before the encryption process started and after it ended.

      When a key is pressed, an electrical current is sent through the machine. The current first passes through the plug board, then through the three rotors, through the reflector which reverses the current, back through the three rotors, back through the plug board and then the encrypted letter is lit on the display. After the display is lit up, the rotors rotate. The rotors rotate similar to an odometer where the right most rotor must complete one revolution before the middle rotor rotated one position and so on.

      As the current passes through each component in the Enigma machine, the letter gets remapped to another letter. The plug board performed the first remapping. If there is a connection between two letters, the letters are remapped to each other. For example if there is a connection between "A" and "F", "A" would get remapped to "F" and "F" would get remapped to "A". If this isn't a connection for a particular letter, the letter doesn't get remapped. After the plug board, the letters are remapped through the rotors. Each rotor contains one-to-one mappings of letters but since the rotors rotate on each key press, the mappings of the rotors change on every key press. Once the current passes through the rotors, it goes into the reflector. The reflector is very similar to a rotor except that it doesn't rotate so the one-to-one mappings are always the same. The whole encryption process for a single letter contains a minimum of 7 remappings (the current passes through the rotors twice) and a maximum of 9 remappings (if the letter has a connection in the plug board).

      In order to decrypt a message, the receiver must have the encrypted message, and know which rotors were used, the connections on the plug board and the initial settings of the rotors. To decrypt a message, the receiver would set up the machine identically to the way the sender initially had it and would type in the encrypted message. The output of typing in the encrypted message would be the original message. Without the knowledge of the state of the machine when the original message was typed in, it is extremely difficult to decode a message.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:35AM (#8354747)
      There is some sort of description [home.cern.ch] written by Turing himself
  • by Sub-MOA (635383) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:54AM (#8354671)
    I'll drop one off at Bletchley on the way to picking up my Gray's Sports Almanac.
    • "I'll drop one off at Bletchley on the way to picking up my Gray's Sports Almanac."

      I say, could'nt make that two could you old boy?
    • Bletchly Park? What is that got to do with enigma?

      I thought that it was the US Navy. Did U-571 lie to me?
      • by mlush (620447)
        Bletchly Park? What is that got to do with enigma?
        I thought that it was the US Navy. Did U-571 lie to me?

        U-571 had it right... Bletchly Park is just part of a British disinformation program to make you think we were involved in the D-Day landings.

    • Re:Who needs one? (Score:4, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @08:57AM (#8355026)
      I'll drop one off at Bletchley on the way to picking up my Gray's Sports Almanac.

      The construction of the Enigma wasn't really the problem. The Enigma had been in use since the early 30s and the Poles knew exactly how they worked, and later shared that with the Allies as war grew closer and Poland was invaded. Decoding a message required knowing the settings used. At Bletchley Park they built "bombes" (originally following a Polish design) that could run decodes automatically hundreds of times faster than a real Enigma to try out the huge number of possible initial settings.

      Actually a great deal of their success in decoding was due to sloppy methods used by the Germans. Having messages begin in a predictable way was a "crib" that enabled good guesses to be made of the settings. And even more directly, capturing code books with schedules of code settings, as was done several times, (but not by the Americans as was depicted in U571). If the Germans had used the Enigmas with due care they never would have been cracked.

      However, it's rarely noted that the Germans were almost as good at decoding Allied signals. There's very little written about that, but I have seen notes that they could read just about any Royal Navy code, for instance.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:54AM (#8354672)
    Enigma was an interesting development in cryptography because the rotating wheels caused the crypto output to be evenly distributed accross the alphabet. Therefore, it couldn't be solved by the typical letter replacement cypher techniques of assuming the most used letter in the code stands for "E" until proven otherwise, and working from there.

    An Enigma-based crypto engine for binary data might be quite the interesting modern update. Especially because a brute force guessing of a 256-byte wheel would take a long time, and three wheels on top of each other would send the probablities of guessing your way into it into the stratosphere.
    • An Enigma-based crypto engine for binary data might be quite the interesting modern update. Especially because a brute force guessing of a 256-byte wheel would take a long time, and three wheels on top of each other would send the probablities of guessing your way into it into the stratosphere.

      Granted Enigma encryption is weak by today's standards, I think this would be interesting nonetheless. But with today's hardware, we could add arbitrarily many rotors (wheels) with negligible speed difference. I a

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:07AM (#8354705)
        The thing is, a 1000 rotor system of used for binary usage would result in a key that's 256,000 bytes long, and each message would reqire 1000 bytes of information as to where to start each wheel.

        Then again, what better way to remind people that longer keys equals more power?
        • 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 al
          • Thats incorrect. The idea isn't to protect a smaller message, the idea is to only have to protect a message once. The weakest link in any cryptography protocol is the key, reguardless of how big it is. This needs to be transfered to the other party with 100% certainty that it hasn't been observed. This generally means its delivered by hand and under heavy protection. All cryptography algorithms are breakable, the point of the algorithm is make the time needed to break the message invalidate the message
            • Keep in mind that 256,000 bytes is only 250 MB, without compression I can fit 3 of those on a CD
              Er.. 256,000 bytes is less than 256Kb - you can fit almost 3000 of them on a CD. Keys are supposed to be as random as possible - if it compresses significantly its not random (listen (cat to /dev/dsp) to a compressed and uncompressed file and you'll hear whet I mean)

      • You can generally build a secure cipher out of any old mathematical junk provided that you take care in assembly.

        The thing is, in modern crytography we simply don't need a rotor. A rotor system could be made very complicated indeed and complication is not good for security. Most ciphers use a static substitution as their non-linear step because when designing a cipher we want it to be simple to analyse.

        That might sound counter-intuative but think about it. If I can prove my cipher can withstand attacks A,
    • by mlush (620447) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:09AM (#8354796)
      Enigma was an interesting development in cryptography because the rotating wheels caused the crypto output to be evenly distributed accross the alphabet. Therefore, it couldn't be solved by the typical letter replacement cypher techniques of assuming the most used letter in the code stands for "E" until proven otherwise, and working from there.

      One of the interesting weaknesses of the Enigma cypher was no letter could be encoded as itself. One part of the cracking process was to look for messages that had a known content (weather reports were a favorate, the Germans were very keen on standard formats in their reports) This could be used to narrow down the number of possible keys

      Source [mlb.co.jp] A tired German operator has been told to send out dummy messages and he typed only the last letter of the keyboard : ``L''. The British code breaking expert immediately recognized the missing ``L'' in the enciphered message and they got a very big crib.

      * [cipher]DAOACQAOFFNNHDYAPSGZHEPTWCFZEPAARVDZOSWJDH XMESGWSGRQYOZ
      * [plain] LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL LLLLL

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:03AM (#8355391)
        One of the interesting weaknesses of the Enigma cypher was no letter could be encoded as itself. One part of the cracking process was to look for messages that had a known content (weather reports were a favorate, the Germans were very keen on standard formats in their reports) This could be used to narrow down the number of possible keys

        Like many cryptographics systems, it was not beaten soley by technology. Human factors also played a factor. The Germans believed so much in the technology that they did not address the humans as much.

        The Luftwaffe messages were consistently broken because they did stupid things. Some operators sent the same propaganda message at the same time every day. Part of the setting for every message was for the operator to choose a random message specific key. Lazy operators used the same key over and over again.

        The Navy was more careful but humans also foiled the system. Instead of letting the operators choose a message key, they had a code book for the choosing the key and a code book for the other settings. All code books were printed on paper that disintegrated in water. One of the duties of a UBoat captain was to toss the books and the machine into the sea if they had to abandon ship or were about to be captured. One captain who hit a mine and abandoned his ship went back not to destroy the machine or the books but to get his treasured poems. The British captured a machine but more important the code books.

  • applet (Score:5, Informative)

    by batura (651273) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @04:55AM (#8354679)
    I thought this was kinda cool, so I looked around for a java applet and found one: Its pretty cool. [jhu.edu]
  • by mynameis (mother ... (745416) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:00AM (#8354687)

    I was thinking to myself "This is way too difficult to build..."

    But then I noticed that the 65+ page manual includes:

    How to build a wooden box

    And if that wasn't enough, the fact that it has

    Full 26-key keyboard with key-click sound
    sealed the deal!

    I really wanted to make a Darl joke, but alas...

    Herzlicher Glukwunsch...
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:02AM (#8354695)
    If an e-mail message were to be encoded using Enigma, does there exist any modern-era software for cracking it? Or would the US Government be forced to pull out the vacuum tubes and crack it the way they did in WWII again?
    • by The Snowman (116231) * on Sunday February 22, 2004 @05:08AM (#8354708) Homepage

      If an e-mail message were to be encoded using Enigma, does there exist any modern-era software for cracking it? Or would the US Government be forced to pull out the vacuum tubes and crack it the way they did in WWII again?

      I doubt that a cracking program would have the Enigma algorithm built-in, but Enigma is suceptible to a type of brute force attack. Generally you can do heuiristic analysis on a cipher to get a good head start, then brute force a smaller subset of the data. On modern hardware this would probably take a few seconds, if that long.

    • by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:44AM (#8354845) Homepage

      Enigma encryption might have been a great leap ahead and looked completely state of art in the WW2, but today, it's quite trivial to crack. Enigma could be easily bruteforced - just check through the entire keyspace.

      It also probably wouldn't stand too long if real crypto breakers who knew their stuff would start their job without knowing anything about the encryption scheme, even. The science has gone so far in recent times.

      And an easy way to illustrate: Compare output from Enigma with any modern cipher. Enigma output looks like completely mangled words - the text is garbled, the layout of the message is exposed. Modern cipher output looks like a completely random arrangement of bits, everything completely spread around the message with no point to really take a good grip on. With Enigma, if you know that Nazi guy is always putting "Heil Hitler" at the end, you have already cracked that much of the message.

      If the thing looks trivial, then it probably is. If it doesn't, it probably isn't. Of course, this isn't always true [schneier.com] in either way [interhack.net].

      Now I'll get more coffee so I can start making sense today.

    • There's probably a lot of material in the NSA archives on how to crack rotor machines. After World War II, many small countries were given surplus rotor machines as part of foreign/military aid packages. They weren't told that the machines could be cracked by cryptanalysts working for the major powers. Even the U.S Navy used rotor machines, such as the KL-7, into the 1980s. They were withdrawn after it was discovered that they had been thoroughly compromised by the Walker spy ring.
    • by raytracer (51035) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @02:58PM (#8356617)

      I implemented an Enigma-cracking program when I was trying to crack the codes in Simon Singh's Cipher Challenge presented in The Code Book. It was a great deal of fun, and required just the right mix of learning, hacking and debugging to accomplish. Eventually I cracked 7 out of 10 of the ciphers (all the ones I expected to be within reasonable grasp).

      The first difficulty was finding a sufficiently detailed description of the Enigma machine itself, so that I could write a simulator. Eventually I found a fairly good description of the machine, and some cleartext/ciphertext pairs to try it against. Initially there was a minor problem, which I eventually submitted as a plea to a newsgroup and received a quick response from an eGroup member as to the bug. Voila! A working simulator.

      I took advice from Jim Gillogly and his cipher text only break [fortunecity.com] of the Enigma machine. I suspected the final text would be German, so I built a table of trigraph frequencies from Goethe's Faust, which I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. I then coded up a simple hill climbing algorithm which proceeded by Scanning all possible rotor orders (six of them) and all possible rotor positions (26^3), looking for the text with the trigraph score, and then refining that by hillclimbing by redoing the plugboard.

      It worked the very first time: out popped the flawless decrypt in less than three minutes on my old 133Mhz P5.

      Singh's challenge was signficantly aided by the fact that his ciphertext was quite a bit longer than the recommended message length that was actually used in the War. My experience in trying to crack shorter messages was that the statistics used to guide the search were often unreliable, and the likelihood of getting a successful automatic decrypt were quite a bit lower.

  • 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 Zakabog (603757) <john@j[ ]g.com ['mau' in gap]> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:01AM (#8354782)
    ...read this as "Do-It-Yourself Electronic Enema Machine"? I probably wouldn't have if I knew what an Enigma Machine was (yeah yeah I'll read the stuff now)
  • by SisyphusShrugged (728028) <me&igerard,com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:05AM (#8354787) Homepage
    This is an interesting little project, I remember learning about the history of the battle over the Enigma code in Computer Science, and the Colossus, the first programmable electronic computer...maybe now you can emulate a replica of the Colossus, the computer used to decipher the Enigma, and have a mini-WW2 cryptography battle on your computer!

    An interesting piece of history...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:06AM (#8354791)
    I always thought it would be cool to make an Enigma from LEGO.
    • It'd take some serious electrical and/or mechanical work, because the Mindstorms control brick (last I checked) only has three ports for sensors et cetera; well, actually, you could probably do the input with Morse code.
      From there either use an alternate OS to show the result on the screen, or else use the motors somehow to run a mechanical display.
  • Enigma Books (Score:5, Informative)

    by iplead5th (703252) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @06:09AM (#8354797) Homepage
    I recomend to anyone who would like this Enigma machine thingy--or anyone interested in learning more about cryptography--to go out and get The Code Book by Simon Singh. Amazon [amazon.com] It explains in a fair amount of detail how cryptography works, but also the history behind it. I remember it having a chapter or two on the Enigma Machine and also how they broke it. It was a very interesting read, but it isn't a techinical book, more for reader enjoyment and probably at the level of anyone who wants to build this kit. There are some puzzles on the back that are pretty hard to solve, although it would be cool to use this enigma machine to solve the enigma code in the back--you would still have to figure out all the settings, so it would be impossible and not help at all, but imagine the cool factor. There are a lot of other great books on cryptography but this is the only one I have read yet so I feel its the only one I'm allowed to recomend to you guys.
  • Now if I only spoke german....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is what other users say about the Enigma-E:
    Toyally Sucks! A.Hitler
    Totally Rocks! W Churchill
  • Level of difficulty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cancerward (103910) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @08:28AM (#8354983) Journal
    In case any of you think that the Enigma was "broken" by the boffins of Bletchley Park, and with Gillogly's ciphertext-only attack, became "ancient history", there are some ciphertexts from WW2 [google.com] produced with the 4-rotor machine which have never been broken. (People have been so foolish as to say "Enigma is a joke to crack for my desktop" [google.com]...)
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @09:13AM (#8355063) Homepage
      that is because it was really done with an 8 rotor enigma.

      output of enigma1 was input into enigma2 then transmitted.

      there was a couple of accounts from some of the higher up officials that eluded to that this was a practice that was used near the end of the war for really important things.
  • by ioscan (229134) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @10:04AM (#8355166)
    Drink more Ovaltine.
  • Colossus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FraggedSquid (737869) on Sunday February 22, 2004 @11:31AM (#8355512)
    I remeber watching a TV show about Bletchly Park a few years ago. They interviewed one of the code breakers about the Colossus computer. They retired codebreaker remarked that he had written a machine-code implementation of the Colossus and ran it on the fasted PC he could find, but the hardware Colossus was still quicker at code breaking. Station X [bletchleypark.org.uk]
  • Assuming the manuals have everything you need, who will be the first to publish the book for those of us that want to scrounge for parts too...
  • 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!
  • Enigma decrypt (Score:5, Informative)

    by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday February 22, 2004 @01:37PM (#8356162) Journal
    Decrypting Enigma messages were made much easier, because of human weaknesses. The operator would first send a 3 letter position for the plugboard in plaintext, and the operator would chose the remaining 3 for the rotor. The Bletchley park decoders could easily guess that if BER was sent, they guy on the other end would set his rotors to LIN. LON would be followed by -DON. HIT by -LER. Another Enigma operator would always use the initials of his French girlfriend!

    Decoding was also made easier by knowing part of the content of the message. Loyal Nazis were always fond of closing their encrypted messages with a hearty "Heil Hitler" which of course aided the British immensely.
    • It was not that easy, this is a legend. Encrypted messages were not sent as sms today and in telegraphy you don't greet the recipient but keep it very short. So probably it would be more an 'alpha' 'charly' game. And of course nobody uses the name of his girl friend because the operators could not decide the code, but were given the code at the beginning of their mission.

      Btw, there are still the original machines to play with and it is probably easy to create a real replica. it's all simple mechanics. Go
  • by PeterCook (673216) <peter.cook@templ[ ]du ['e.e' in gap]> on Monday February 23, 2004 @12:02AM (#8359618) Homepage
    Yeah - yeah - all jokes aside this is a WWII geek machine - it was easy to assemble and works great. I give the creators of this credit for the hard work they put in - they even delivered a completed one to the Bletchley Trust Director for display. On the side I have been a consultant to Bletchley Park - supporter and a personal friend of a woman who worked in the registration room at Bletchley during the war. She shared many of her photos, artifacts and stories about what it was like to work somewhere and then never being able to tell anyone what you did there until 35 years later (Secrets Act). Her parents died not knowing what she did for her country. If you haven't been there - take the train to Bletchley (from Euston station in London north about an hour & a half) next time you in the UK - 200 yards away from the station is the main gate of the complex - you will be blown away by what's there. One of the problems with the comments I have seen here is that most of the knowledge about BP from folks on this side of the Atlantic is either incomplete or misinformed. At BP they had 12 Colossus computers working by the end of the war. A replica was rebuilt in 1996 from scratch and is still working - including the unique paper tape/proximity fuse system used to enter information - read all of Tony Sale's site to understand it. At the end of the war all but one of the Colossus computers were destroyed under the British War Secrets act and the building housing them was demolished in the 1960's - all that's left is the granite front step. All blueprints and all photos but about 3 were destroyed. The last Colossus was sent to the British version of the NSA - GCHQ in Cheltenham. It was reported it was also destroyed after a few years. Americans know very little about BP or Colossus. One of the reasons why various codes were cracked was that some the Germans became lazy and started beginning the codes with familiar words, phrases, and even girlfriend's names - like putting a personal stamp on the message. Bletchley Park is in the process of creating and preserving the unique information technology history that took place there. They are a very unique treasure - you won't find them mentioned in UK travel books but I am going to change that. Hooray for the Enigma-E! - personally I was amused that this fully working encryption device (BTW not all German codes were deciphered) was sent to me and passed through US Customs with the label "Electronic Toy" on it. This device is still a useful machine and definitely not a toy.

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