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Current Affairs

Nazi Enigmas

Date: 14 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Divers have discovered an ‘Enigma’ encryption machine in Baltic Sea that was used by Nazi Germany to encode secret messages during World War II.

 

Background

The divers made the discovery while searching the seabed using a sonar device for abandoned fishing nets that can be harmful for sea life.

 

Details

  • The Enigma machine was invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius towards the end of World War I.

  • While several different Enigma models were produced, the German military models that had a plugboard are believed to have been the most complex.

  • During World War II, the military of Nazi Germany used the encryption machine to transmit messages in code.

  • The machine allowed for billions of ways to encode a message, and the Allied militaries and intelligence services found it extremely challenging to break the code of intercepted messages.

  • The plugboard was similar to a telephone switchboard, with wires with two ends that could be plugged into a slot.

  • Each letter from the plaintext would be substituted for another at regular intervals to create a ciphertext, which was decrypted by the receiver who was aware of the pairings.

  • Every time a letter was pressed, the movable parts of the machine would change position, so that the next time the same letter was pressed, it would be enciphered as something different.

 

Deciphering Enigma

  • By 1932, Polish cryptanalysts were able to decode German ciphers that had been written with an earlier version of Enigma. The Poles shared the information with the French and British intelligence services before World War II.

  • The Poles also built electro-mechanical machines to search for solutions by simulating the workings of an Enigma machine. These calculated the numerous possibilities through different settings.

  • The findings of the Polish mathematicians helped the English mathematician Alan Turing to develop his ‘bombe’ machine that made the use of “cribs” to break Enigma-encrypted machines.

 

Baltic Sea

  • Baltic Sea is the arm of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Scandinavian peninsula and the countries of mainland northern and central Europe.

  • It borders  Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, northeast Germany, Poland, Russia, and the North and Central European Plain.