Feeds

Wannabe infosec kiddies put Enigma Bombe machine to the test

Shove off, Simon Cowell. This is the X Plus Why? Factor

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

GCHQ historians will this month put the team that rebuilt the British code-cracking Bombe machine to the test in a third Enigma Challenge.

The Bombe squad will race against time to break Enigma-encoded messages sent by members of the public and GCHQ’s Historical Section. The exercise is due to take place at The Big Bang Fair, a four-day event for young scientists and engineers at London’s ExCel centre between 14 and 17 March.

Visitors to the X Plus Why? Factor stand will be able to encrypt a message on a real German Enigma machine and send it Bletchley Park, the home of British wartime code breakers.

Once at Bletchley, the message will be decrypted using the original procedures and reconstructed code-cracking Bombe machine technology, mimicking the task face by Bletchley's boffins during the Second World War. The decoded message will then be tweeted back to The Big Bang Fair, the whole process displayed live on large TV screens at both sites.

The modern-day code-breakers at Bletchley Park will use the Bombe Rebuild, which is a faithful copy of the original, built as a tribute to those who invented, built and maintained the machines that were crucial to the Allies' success. The electromechanical Bombe machine was developed at Bletchley Park to speed up the process of deducing the encryption configuration of Enigma machines. The three-rotor German contraption had approximately 158 million million million possible settings for scrambling military memos.

The previous Enigma Challenge, held in October 2012, involved the Bombe team beating its own record time for deducing the Enigma settings. The GCHQ historians were at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, where visitors were able to send their own enciphered messages. The fastest time in which the Bombe squad breaking the German device's encryption was two hours and fifteen minutes. They were then able to decipher messages quickly and tweet the plain text so those taking part could get a better idea of how the process worked.

Veteran wrens who operated the machines during the Second World War recall it took an average of four hours each night to work out the day’s settings on each German military network, most of which were changed at midnight every day. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?