Goodbyes

•June 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

We’d like to thank everyone who’s played along so far and anyone who may stumble across our creation in the future.  Thank you for your time and your effort as it has validated our own.

At this point some will have found the final answer and others will be stumped but hopefully no one has given up completely.  At least not until tomorrow because as of today our humble project “Bletchley Park” is complete.  Nothing more is needed to reach the end.

Everything must have an end despite convolutions and puzzles.

We hope you will enjoy finding ours, even if you don’t like what you find when you get there.

The point was never to provide an ending so much as an entertainment, a diversion.

We hope your time has been well spent.

Good luck and Goodbye

-Bletchley Park

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Proverb

•May 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Every end is a new beginning”

Edward Scheidt

•April 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Edward M. Scheidt (born 1939) is the retired Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center, and the designer of the cryptographic systems on the Kryptos sculpture at the center of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Scheidt was born in 1939 in California. His father worked for the government, and his mother was a switchboard operator at AT&T. He graduated in 1957 from Cor Jesu High School in New Orleans. He also received a B.A. in computer science from the University of Maryland in 1970, and a degree in telecommunications from George Washington University in 1975. He worked for 26 years at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, working primarily in operations, and retired in December 1989.

He is best known for his involvement with part IV of Kryptos (K4), one of the world’s most famous unsolved codes. When the CIA commissioned a new Headquarters building in 1988, the commission for some of the associated artwork was awarded to Jim Sanborn, a Washington DC sculptor who had created some other large public art probjects. After Sanborn researched the themes he wanted to portray in his art, he decided he wanted to incorporate some encrypted messages. Up until that point, Sanborn had never used encryption or text in his work, so he was teamed with Scheidt, who was in the process of retiring. CIA Director William H. Webster referred to Scheidt as “The Deep Throat of Codes”.

In a series of discussions, Scheidt taught various encryption methods to Sanborn, and then Sanborn chose the exact messages to be encrypted. Of the messages on the sculpture, three have been solved, but the fourth section, 97 or 98 characters at the very bottom, remains uncracked. Scheidt said that he does know the answer, along with Sanborn and “probably someone at the CIA”.

After retiring from the CIA, Scheidt helped found an encryption company called TecSec Inc., in 1990 in Vienna, Virginia, where he presently works as Chief Scientist. One of their first ventures was to manufacture portable satellite versions of the secure “STU-III” telephones used by the government. Scheidt manufactured the first model in his home basement workshop, and as of 2002, approximately 500 were in use world-wide by the United States Foreign Service.

Scheidt has been a speaker on cryptography at Bouchercon, a mystery convention. He also volunteers as a local scoutmaster.

Giovanni Soro

•April 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Giovanni Soro (died 1544) was a Venetian professional code-cracker. He was more than likely the Renaissance’s first outstanding cryptanalyst and the Western world’s first great cryptanalyst. Soro is known as the father of modern cryptography.

Soro was employed in Venice in 1506 by the Council of Ten as cipher breaker-in-chief. They were the first secret service specializing in codebreaking. Soro ran the cryptanalysis operation in secret as the cipher secretary. Soro’s tasks included deciphering secret messages captured from the messenger spies of Venice’s rivals. At the time, Venice was plagued by espionage and subterfuge. The Council of Ten had its own ciphers changed often so as to impede competitors such as Francois Viete, a French mathematician (father of modern algebraic notation).

Successful diplomacy depended on knowing the adjacent principalities’ thoughts and ideas.  Soro was able to decipher the ciphers of most other courts. By 1510, he had forced most of them to develop their ciphers to a much higher degree of sophistication. As a result, the Papal Curia hired him to break codes their own cipher analysts in Rome could not. Pope Clement VII often sent messages to Soro for cryptanalysis to test their impenetrability.

Soro’s work in Venice continued to take priority over his work at the Vatican. He was Venice’s principal cryptanalyst for almost 40 years. His work is among the earliest successful cryptanalysis which has been preserved. Soro’s reputation was great throughout the leaders of other Italian city-states and Europe. He was so successful that he was given two assistants and a secret office in the Doge’s Palace above the Sala di Segret by 1542. He made Venice a Renaissance bastion of diplomatic cryptology.

Soro wrote a treatise in Italian, French, Spanish, and Latin in the early 1500s on cryptography and solving ciphers which has since been lost.

Conel Alexander

•March 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander, CMG, CBE (19 April 1909 – 15 February 1974) was an Irish-born British cryptanalyst, chess player, and chess writer. He worked on the German Enigma machine at Bletchley Park during World War II, and was later the head of the cryptanalysis division at GCHQ for over 20 years. In chess, he was twice British chess champion and earned the title of International Master. He was usually referred to as C. H. O’D. Alexander in print and Hugh in person.

In February 1940 Alexander arrived at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre during World War II. He joined Hut 6, the section tasked with breaking German Army and Air Force Enigma messages. In 1941, he transferred to Hut 8, the corresponding hut working on Naval Enigma. He became deputy head of Hut 8 under Alan Turing. Alexander was more involved with the day-to-day operations of the hut than Turing, and, while Turing was visiting the United States, Alexander formally became the head of Hut 8 around November 1942. Other senior colleagues included Stuart Milner-Barry, Gordon Welchman, and Harry Golombek. In October 1944, Alexander was transferred to work on the Japanese JN-25 code.

In mid-1946, Alexander joined GCHQ (under the control of the Foreign Office), which was the post-war successor organisation to the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park. By 1949, he had been promoted to the head of “Section H” (cryptanalysis), a post he retained until his retirement in 1971.

MI5’s Peter Wright, in his 1987 best-selling book Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, wrote about Alexander’s assistance to MI5 in the ongoing Venona project, as well as other important mutual cooperation between the two organizations, which broke down previous barriers to progress. “Any help is gratefully received in this department”, Alexander told Wright, and that proved the case from then on. Wright also lauded Alexander’s professionalism, and opined that the exceptional mental demands of his cryptanalytical career and chess hobby likely contributed to Alexander’s early death at age 64, despite his healthy lifestyle.

Al-Kindi

•February 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Abū Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī (Arabic: أبو يوسف يعقوب إبن إسحاق الكندي‎) (c. 801–873 CE), also known to the West by the Latinized version of his name Alkindus, was an Arab Iraqi polymath: an Islamic philosopher, scientist, astrologer, astronomer, cosmologist, chemist, logician, mathematician, musician, physician, physicist, psychologist, and meteorologist. Al-Kindi was the first of the Muslim Peripatetic philosophers, and is known for his efforts to introduce Greek and Hellenistic philosophy to the Arab world, and as a pioneer in chemistry, cryptography, medicine, music theory, physics, psychology, and the philosophy of science.

Al-Kindi was a descendant of the Kinda tribe which is a well known Arabic tribe native of Najd (present day Saudi Arabia). He was born and educated in Kufa, before pursuing further studies in Baghdad. Al-Kindi became a prominent figure in the House of Wisdom, and a number of Abbasid Caliphs appointed him to oversee the translation of Greek scientific and philosophical texts into the Arabic language. This contact with “the philosophy of the ancients” (as Greek and Hellenistic philosophy was often referred to by Muslim scholars) had a profound effect on his intellectual development, and led him to write original treatises on subjects ranging from Islamic ethics and metaphysics to Islamic mathematics and pharmacology.

In mathematics, al-Kindi played an important role in introducing Indian numerals to the Islamic and Christian world. He was a pioneer in cryptanalysis and cryptology, and devised new methods of breaking ciphers, including the frequency analysis method. Using his mathematical and medical expertise, he developed a scale to allow doctors to quantify the potency of their medication. He also experimented with music therapy.

The central theme underpinning al-Kindi’s philosophical writings is the compatibility between philosophy and other orthodox Islamic sciences, particularly theology. Many of his works deal with subjects that concerned theology, including the nature of God, the soul, and prophetic knowledge. However, despite the important role he played in making philosophy accessible to Muslim intellectuals, his own philosophical output was largely overshadowed by that of al-Farabi and very few of his texts are available for modern scholars to examine. However, he is still considered one of the greatest philosophers of Arab descent, and for this reason is known simply as “The Arab Philosopher”.

Al-Kindi was a pioneer in cryptography, especially cryptanalysis. He gave the first known recorded explanation of cryptanalysis in A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages. In particular, he is credited with developing the frequency analysis method whereby variations in the frequency of the occurrence of letters could be analyzed and exploited to break ciphers (i.e. cryptanalysis by frequency analysis). This was detailed in a text recently rediscovered in the Ottoman archives in Istanbul, A Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages, which also covers methods of cryptanalysis, encipherments, cryptanalysis of certain encipherments, and statistical analysis of letters and letter combinations in Arabic. Al-Kindi also had knowledge of polyalphabetic ciphers centuries before Leon Battista Alberti. Al-Kindi’s book also introduced the classification of ciphers, developed Arabic phonetics and syntax, and described the use of several statistical techniques for cryptoanalysis. This book apparently antedates other cryptology references by several centuries, and it also predates writings on probability and statistics by Pascal and Fermat by nearly eight centuries.

Al-Kindi authored works on a number of other important mathematical subjects, including arithmetic, geometry, the Indian numbers, the harmony of numbers, lines and multiplication with numbers, relative quantities, measuring proportion and time, and numerical procedures and cancellation. He also wrote four volumes, On the Use of the Indian Numerals (Ketab fi Isti’mal al-‘Adad al-Hindi) which contributed greatly to diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle East and the West. In geometry, among other works, he wrote on the theory of parallels. Also related to geometry were two works on optics. One of the ways in which he made use of mathematics as a philosopher was to attempt to disprove the eternity of the world by demonstrating that actual infinity is a mathematical and logical absurdity.

Alan Turing

•February 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (pronounced /ˈtjʊərɪŋ/, TYOOR-ing; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was influential in the development of computer science and provided an influential formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. In 1999, Time Magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century for his role in the creation of the modern computer, and stated: “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”  In 2002, Turing was ranked twenty-first on the BBC nationwide poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. His Turing test was a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence.

During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre. For a time he was head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. After the war he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE.

Towards the end of his life Turing became interested in chemistry. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.

Turing’s homosexuality, which was illegal and considered to be a mental illness during his lifetime, resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952. He accepted treatment with female hormones as an alternative to going to prison. He died in 1954, several weeks before his 42nd birthday, from an apparently self-administered cyanide poisoning, although his mother (and some others) considered his death to be accidental. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.

During the Second World War, Turing was a main participant in the efforts at Bletchley Park to break German ciphers. Building on cryptanalysis work carried out in Poland by Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski from Cipher Bureau before the war, he contributed several insights into breaking both the Enigma machine and the Lorenz SZ 40/42 (a Teletype cipher attachment codenamed “Tunny” by the British), and was, for a time, head of Hut 8, the section responsible for reading German naval signals.

Since September 1938, Turing had been working part-time for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS), the British code breaking organisation. He worked on the problem of the German Enigma machine, and collaborated with Dilly Knox, a senior GCCS codebreaker. On 4 September 1939, the day after the UK declared war on Germany, Turing reported to Bletchley Park, the wartime station of GCCS.

Within weeks of arriving at Bletchley Park, Turing had specified an electromechanical machine which could help break Enigma faster than bomba from 1932, the bombe, named after and building upon the original Polish-designed bomba. The bombe, with an enhancement suggested by mathematician Gordon Welchman, became one of the primary tools, and the major automated one, used to attack Enigma-protected message traffic.

Replica of a bombe machine

Professor Jack Good, cryptanalyst working at the time with Turing at Bletchley Park, later said: “Turing’s most important contribution, I think, was of part of the design of the bombe, the cryptanalytic machine. He had the idea that you could use, in effect, a theorem in logic which sounds to the untrained ear rather absurd; namely that from a contradiction, you can deduce everything.”

The bombe searched for possibly correct settings used for an Enigma message (i.e., rotor order, rotor settings, etc.), and used a suitable “crib”: a fragment of probable plaintext. For each possible setting of the rotors (which had of the order of 1019 states, or 1022 for the U-boat Enigmas which eventually had four rotors, compared with the usual Enigma variant’s three), the bombe performed a chain of logical deductions based on the crib, implemented electrically. The bombe detected when a contradiction had occurred, and ruled out that setting, moving onto the next. Most of the possible settings would cause contradictions and be discarded, leaving only a few to be investigated in detail. Turing’s bombe was first installed on 18 March 1940. Over two hundred bombes were in operation by the end of the war.

 

In December 1940, Turing solved the naval Enigma indicator system, which was more mathematically complex than the indicator systems used by the other services. Turing also invented a Bayesian statistical technique termed “Banburismus” to assist in breaking naval Enigma. Banburismus could rule out certain orders of the Enigma rotors, reducing time needed to test settings on the bombes. In 1941, Turing proposed marriage to Hut 8 co-worker Joan Clarke, a fellow mathematician, but their engagement was short-lived. After admitting his homosexuality to his fianceé, who was reportedly “unfazed” by the revelation, Turing decided that he could not go through with the marriage.

In July 1942, Turing devised a technique termed Turingismus or Turingery for use against the Lorenz cipher used in the Germans’ new Geheimschreiber machine (“secret writer”) which was one of those codenamed “Fish”. He also introduced the Fish team to Tommy Flowers who, under the guidance of Max Newman, went on to build the Colossus computer, the world’s first programmable digital electronic computer, which replaced simpler prior machines (including the “Heath Robinson”) and whose superior speed allowed the brute-force decryption techniques to be applied usefully to the daily-changing cyphers.  A frequent misconception is that Turing was a key figure in the design of Colossus; this was not the case. While working at Bletchley, Turing, a talented long-distance runner, occasionally ran the 40 miles (64 km) to London when he was needed for high-level meetings.

Turing travelled to the United States in November 1942 and worked with U.S. Navy cryptanalysts on Naval Enigma and bombe construction in Washington, and assisted at Bell Labs with the development of secure speech devices. He returned to Bletchley Park in March 1943. During his absence, Hugh Alexander had officially assumed the position of head of Hut 8, although Alexander had been de facto head for some time—Turing having little interest in the day-to-day running of the section. Turing became a general consultant for cryptanalysis at Bletchley Park.

In the latter part of the war he moved to work at Hanslope Park, where he further developed his knowledge of electronics with the assistance of engineer Donald Bailey. Together they undertook the design and construction of a portable secure voice communications machine codenamed Delilah. It was intended for different applications, lacking capability for use with long-distance radio transmissions, and in any case, Delilah was completed too late to be used during the war. Though Turing demonstrated it to officials by encrypting/decrypting a recording of a Winston Churchill speech, Delilah was not adopted for use.

In 1945, Turing was awarded the OBE for his wartime services, but his work remained secret for many years. A biography published by the Royal Society shortly after his death recorded:

Three remarkable papers written just before the war, on three diverse mathematical subjects, show the quality of the work that might have been produced if he had settled down to work on some big problem at that critical time. For his work at the Foreign Office he was awarded the OBE.