ANN: obfuscate

Tim Golden mail at timgolden.me.uk
Thu Feb 11 13:43:35 CET 2010


On 11/02/2010 11:32, Paul Rubin wrote:
> Gregory Ewing<greg.ewing at canterbury.ac.nz>  writes:
>> Actually I gather it had a lot to do with the fact that the Germans
>> made some blunders in the way they used the Enigma that seriously
>> compromised its security. There was reportedly a branch of the German
>> forces that used their Enigmas differently, avoiding those mistakes,
>> and the British never managed to crack any of their messages.
>
> I think you are thinking of the Kriegsmarine (naval) Enigma.  Yes they
> were more careful with procedures, but the machine was also harder to
> crack because it had four rotors instead of three.  IIRC, the Brits were
> eventually (1942?) able to capture one by shooting up a German submarine
> and boarding it to get the machine while the sub was sinking; a British
> sailor wasn't able to get out in time and drowned during that operation.
> Getting the rotor settings off the captured unit (they may have had to
> do it more than once) was enough to get a foothold into the code.  My
> memory is hazy on this by now so I may have some parts wrong, but David
> Kahn's book "Seizing the Enigma" tells the story (I read it many years
> ago).  A fictionalized version appears in Neil Stephenson's novel
> "Cryptonomicon".

And for those who haven't been to Bletchley Park [*] I recommend it.
Not only is it full of interesting stuff, but it has an engagingly
amateurish air about it which I personally prefer to the sleek-and-shiny
nature of many museum-y places today. When I was there last summer I
was disappointed to see that they'd closed the Pigeon Museum. But the
Model Railway club was still there (altho' we were too late in the day
to get in) and the new Computing Museum is full of delightful nostalgic
clutter being worked on by enthusiastic people. My kind of place..

TJG

[*] http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/



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