Amateur Cracks Secret Nazi Code

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by syscom3, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20060303/bs_nf/41894

    Nazi code that eluded the best cryptographers the Allied forces had to offer during World War II has been solved by an amateur codebreaker with the assistance of a network of computers.

    The three uncracked ciphers -- a cipher is a method of transforming text in order to conceal its meaning -- were encrypted in 1942 with a new version of the infamous German Enigma machine, which was used to direct attacks against Allied shipping in the Atlantic.

    The M4 Project, the brainchild of Stefan Krah, a violinist and amateur cryptographer of German birth, is credited with cracking one of the three remaining ciphers. The project was named in honor of the M4 Enigma machine that originally encoded the messages.

    To solve the puzzling mystery, details of which had been published in a cryptography journal in 1995, Krah wrote a codebreaking program and then went online in January to post information about his project and ask for assistance.

    In an interview with the BBC, Krah, a resident of Utrecht, The Netherlands, said it was "basic human curiosity" that prompted him to attempt to break the code. "Clearly, the project is from the 'because-we-can' department," Krah wrote on a bulletin board online.

    Super Sleuths Unite

    Krah was not looking for additional brain power when he posted his request for help online. Rather, he was trolling for more computer power. The program Krah created required the might of a series of connected computers to process his mathematical codebreaking formula.

    When the response to his request for help came, Krah said, he was astonished by "the exponential growth of participants."

    On January 9, when the project began, Krah counted himself as the only participant. After his announcement online, another five or so people joined and became regular participants.

    That number expanded to some 2,500 computers whirring away as they ran through the 150 million permutations of each letter to crack the Enigma cipher, the top priority for Allied codebreakers at the vaunted Bletchley Park complex in Buckinghamshire, England.

    Amateurs One, Pros Zero

    Success for Krah came on February 20, when a jumble of 196 letters became a legible message once again after 63 years. In its encrypted form, the message appeared 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 unencrypted message has been translated into English and verified using existing records from Hartwig Looks, commander of the German submarine U264, that was later sunk in the North Atlantic in February 1944. The message, sent on November 25, 1942, 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]."

    Krah said that he is not sure the remaining two codes will be cracked. So far, the power of thousands of PCs joined in this effort has resulted in little success. "There is no guarantee that another break will occur at all," Krah was quoted as saying. "There is simply a fair chance."

    To volunteer your computer's processing power to crack the final two codes, go to www.bytereef.org/m4_project.html
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I just read this, very intersting
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Its almost cheating using all those computers, but still pretty cool.... They musta shit their pants when the little red light flashed...
     
  4. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Yes, that would have been a neat moment when a "crack" is indicated.
     
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