Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ultra/Enigma II. [Conclusion].

This is coolbert:

The question has been asked by some authorities, “to what extent during World War Two [WW2] were the Russians [Soviets] also able to “read” German Enigma encrypted radio traffic?

Calvocoressi writes:

"They [Russians] must have captured Enigma machines and cypher books and must have supposed that we did so. They [Russians] were not lacking in mathematicians and chess-players capable of appreciating what was involved in the breaking of cyphers."

Beesley [author of “Very Special Intelligence”] writes:

"According to Capitaine de Vaisseau C. Huan, the Russians raised U.250 after she was sunk in the Gulf of Finland . . . and recovered her Enigma machines . . . Admiral Golovko [Russian] . . . in his memoirs that he was aware that Admiral Fraser [British] knew in advance of the German intentions to send Scharnhorst to sea . . . which raises the interesting question of how Golovko came by this knowledge."

Personally, I have not seen anything yea or nay on the subject!

The Russians seem to be very good at keeping the “reading” of Enigma a secret, if indeed they were able to!!

It is not unreasonable to infer that the Russians were able to “read” German Enigma encrypted radio traffic, and do so in a manner to produce actionable intelligence.

From a Russian web site: [this particular web site is for a Russian private concern that produces and sells cryptographic algorithms and equipment for the commercial market.]

"Ciphering machines started to be used about this time: 'Enigma' (Germany) . . . 'Purple Code' (Japan). They had one typical weakness for all of them: the period of a key was about 10 days, and later the messages could have been easily decrypted by analysts, which now is a well-known fact: 'Enigma' had been broken by American and British specialists, the 'Purple Code'; – by American and Russian code-breakers in 1939 – 1940."

That the Russian was able to “read” the Japanese Purple crypto machine was news to me. I have not seen this referenced anywhere else. My understanding was that the Americans and the British each independently arrived at a cryptanalytic solution to Purple, but NOT the Russian.

[see David Irving's article on the British reading of "Purple" independently of the Americans!!]

That the Russian was ABLE to “read” Purple indicates to me that the Soviet military [probably the GRU], had an apparatus of "mathematicians, chess players", and cross-word puzzle solvers at the ready and working. If you could “read” Purple, you PROBABLY COULD “READ” ENIGMA!! The ability to find a solution to the “reading” of one type of cryptographic machine means an ability to find a solution to the “reading” of other machines of different types, given time, manpower, brainpower, etc.

[Russian mathematicians have the reputation as the best in the world!! Having good mathematicians is a must in creating and “breaking” cryptographic systems!]

NOW, go to this web site to see a description, complete with graphic simulation of the Russian electro-mechanical rotor cryptographic machine, the Fialka. Analogous to the Enigma, but much more sophisticated in design. MUCH MORE resistant to cryptanalytic attack??!! Was introduced by the Soviets in 1965 and NOT retired until the 1990’s??!! Download the simulator and try it. OUTSTANDING. You too can be a Russian cipher clerk!

[this graphical simulation and entire web site is just astounding. Information regarding Soviet/Russian cryptographics in the past would have been obtainable ONLY through the most dangerous and difficult of espionage operations!!]

What is most interesting to me is that the Soviets/Russians incorporated into the Fialka, from the start, what is called a “Magic Circuit”. The inability, "no letter of the alphabet could ever be enciphered as itself" as seen in the Enigma has been observed and eliminated in the Fialka, and done so from the start. This tells me the Russians had examined captured Enigmas and found “weakness” at several levels? “WEAKNESS” taken into account when designing their own crypto machines of a more sophisticated and resistant nature than the Enigma.

"One wire (13) is connected only to a diode that is in turn connected to the mechanical 5-bit plain-text encoder (under the keyboard). This line is used to override the coded letter and replace it with the original letter. When the current (through the drum) reaches pin 13 of the reflector, no signal is returned and the plain-text letter is used instead. This results in a 1:30 chance for a letter to be enciphered as itself."

"a letter to be enciphered as itself". An A in plaintext CAN appear as an A in the ciphertext.

[please recall the Enigma, that "no letter of the alphabet could ever be enciphered as itself. Z might turn into any letter from A to Y but never did it become Z."

And from Suvorov, how the Soviets exploited foreign cipher machines:

[here describing the compromise of an American cipher machine.]

"The cipher machine which was obtained, or more accurately two of its basic blocks, enabled the technical services of the GRU to decipher thousands of American radio communications which had been intercepted earlier but remained undeciphered. They also enabled them [technical services] to study the principles of cipher work in the American Army and in the armies of its allies and by exploiting the American principles, to create more complete Soviet examples."

* You study the strengths of the American machine and incorporate those strengths in your own designs.

* You study the weaknesses of the American machine and see if similar weaknesses exist in your own machines, and eliminate as possible.

My intuition tells me that the answer to the question - - "could the Russians read Enigma??" - - is YOU BETCHA!!




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