Enigma Machine


In the First World War, cryptanalysts had upper hand over the cryptographers. After the war, cryptographers started to use technology by focusing their attention on the mechanization of secrecy rather then relying on pencil and paper ciphers. One such example is the Enigma machine: It was the first electro-mechanical machine to be used for encrypting and decrypting messages. Below we present a brief history of Enigma machine, collected from [3].

In 1918, Arthur Scherbius patented Enigma. By 1925, Scherbius started mass production of the Enigma machine for German military and government organizations. Once the German military started using Enigma, the Allied nations could no longer decrypt intercepted German messages and were losing hope of ever breaking the Enigma code. But in 1931 the French government received two documents related to Enigma. The French government passed this information to Poland. Knowing the way in which the Enigma machine worked and the way the Germans used the message keys, Marian Rejewski, a Polish cryptanalyst, mathematically determined the wiring of the Enigma's rotors. In 1939, Poland gave the British and French all the information they had related to the Enigma machine and two spare Enigma replicas. The British government formed a new codebreaking organization named the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire. The scientists and mathematicians at Bletchley Park learned the details of the Enigma machine and mastered the Polish techniques to break the Enigma. They also developed their own techniques to break Enigma. Alan Turing developed a machine, called Bombe, which exploited the cribs, checking rotor and plugboard setting to reveled the keys. Even with the use of the Bombe machine, the cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park had to do a lot of guesswork before checking for keys. The Polish fear of war, espionage, and the intelligent work of both Polish and British cryptanalysis lead to breaking the Enigma code which was an important factor in Allies victory in World War II.