April 20th, 2014

Distributed cracking of original enigma messages

The M4 message breaking project has been getting a bit of interest as of late for attempting to break a number of original WWII messages encoded by enigma and intercepted in the North Atlantic in 1942. Apparently several of the messages have been verified as broken already. These messages are believed to be previously unbroken. Here is a link to the first broken message. Here is the translation of the decrypted text:

1930     Radio signal    1851/19/252:
"   F T  1132/19 contents:
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].
Looks  "

Here is the wikipedia entry for the enigma, and with some more NSA hot-linking action, a description of the math related to the enigma devices. If you wanted to help out, these are the tools you’ll need (*nix and windows) which includes a command line enigma simulator, =)
This is what one of the originals looks like (as taken from the CIA museum site):

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