Hal Evans, a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, created the first fully functional copy of a kilometer - a machine built in the early 1930s by Polish mathematicians to help decrypt secret messages sent by the Germans via an encryption machine. Enigma.
It is almost the same size as a very large laptop, but much heavier, with cables, switches and ten-pound rotors. The 21st Century Mileage Edition is currently in the living room of Evans Professor Tim Flack, a lecturer in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cambridge who is conducting some research.
Just like the original, Evans' cyclometer can create a huge list of all the possible ways in which a plain text could be translated from an Enigma encryption text, the technology used by the Germans. The machine semi-automates the process of recognizing the results of every possible solution to the Enigma code.
Demonstrating how the machine works from Zoom, Flack said that the cyclometer was an early example of cryptographic genius and that it played a huge role in the development of the Bombe by Alan Turing, which was used to "break" Enigma's German code. during World War II.
"Turing's Bomb came to a point where Polish methods were no longer sufficient because the Germans had increased security to such an extent that they no longer worked. But the people of Bletchley Park could not have done what they did without the information from the Polish cryptographers. "
The original Polish cyclometer was built by a team led by cryptologist Marian Rejewski in the 1930s in response to the threat of the first war with Germany. At that time, the Germans were already using the Enigma machine to communicate encrypted radio messages.
The Enigma protocol was based on a mechanism that contained the 26 letters of the alphabet. One sender enters the text into the machine, with each letter activating another to operate a different keyboard. The new text was random characters and could be typed on the receiver machine to convert the encrypted text to plain readable text.
The mechanism that converted plain text to encrypted text consisted of a complex system of impellers, reflectors, and panels. An Enigma machine usually contains a set of three impellers, each of which can be set to one of the 26 letters of the alphabet. The way the rotors were adjusted determined what light would come on to create the encrypted text.
In all, there were hundreds of thousands of ways to configure the machine before sending a message. This setting was the key to the message and was communicated by the sender to the recipient to decrypt the communications. To make things more difficult, the Germans would change the key very often, making communications through Enigma very powerful.