Feeds

Wannabe infosec kiddies put Enigma Bombe machine to the test

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

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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 next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.