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February 28, 2006

Distributed Computing Finally Cracks 60 Year Old Enigma Code

One of three uncracked remaining Enigma ciphers. The power of distributed intelligence has another victory:

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, a distributed computing project has managed to crack a previously uncracked message that was encrypted using the Enigma machine.

The M4 Project began in early January, as an attempt to break three original Enigma messages that were intercepted in 1942 and are thought never to have been broken by the Allied forces.

These messages were encrypted using a four-rotor Enigma. That version was considered by Germany to be completely unbreakable, as it could be set up in any one of a vast number of ways (2 times 10 to the 145th power), each of which would encrypt a plain text message differently.


Cryptologists at Bletchley Park in the U.K. managed to break Enigma through their development of early computers, led by Alan Turing, and also by using intelligence to cut down the number of possible set-ups.

...

With two messages still to break, the M4 Project is looking for computer users to download its application and help out.

Pretty amazing those guys cracked so many codes so quickly with primitive computers. As always, they were cracked due to sloppiness of human encoders, but still. Even a sloppy code is tough to break.


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posted by Ace at 03:58 PM

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