back to article Have a go with this WW2 German Lorenz cipher machine – in your browser

The National Museum of Computing has put an emulation of an "unbreakable" Second World War German cipher machine online for world+dog to admire. The Virtual Lorenz machine has been launched in honour of WW2 codebreaker Bill Tutte, the man who broke the crypto used in the twelve-rotor cipher machine. As The National Museum of …

Anonymous Coward

not coding for accessibility strikes again

"Sorry, but it appears your browser does not support some of the advanced 3D transforms required for Virtual Lorenz to display correctly"

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Re: not coding for accessibility strikes again

Older versions of Internet Explorer (even up to v11) are missing the methods required to display properly.

Try with any other modern browser and you should be fine (Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: not coding for accessibility strikes again

Confusing accessibility with compatibility I think. Not that it would be accessible either though (making accommodations for impaired persons)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: not coding for accessibility strikes again

>Confusing accessibility with compatibility I think.

Yep - it functions in Microsoft Edge, but that's the least accessible mainstream web browser in about 10 years.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Big Brother

Is this even legal in the UK now ?

as per title

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Re: Is this even legal in the UK now ?

As long as you mention the war - you should get away with it

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Coat

Re: Is this even legal in the UK now ?

DON'T mention the war. I did once, but I think I got away with it.

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M7S
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Re: Is this even legal in the UK now ?

refer any complaints to the manufacturers, after all they're supposed to backdoor it for the authorities.....

That's the trouble with these "here for a thousand years, gone tomorrow" companies. No long term support.

IoT users beware.

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Re: Is this even legal in the UK now ?

Lorenz company is still in existence.

http://www.lorenzelektrotechnik.de/leistung.htm

and still makes data and networking equipment

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M7S
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Re: Is this even legal in the UK now ?

Then I apologise to them for my ignorance.

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Trollface

Could give these out to those affected by that ransomware virus, and spend the next 2/3 years decoding the encryption they use instead of paying $300.

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You can even import and export yours and your mates' key settings and connect directly to their machines

Hmmm, interesting...

Word to the wise – it's not on an HTTPS site, so if you're hoping to use it to thwart GCHQ, you might want to think again.

Oh, damn...

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Plus also the fact that there a working Virtual Colossus to with instructions on how to break the Lorenz on the same site ...

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Anonymous Coward

Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

I thought that Enigma was originally cracked by the Polish Cipher Bureau, particularly Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki & Henryk Zygalski, with some info gleaned from the French.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

and Turing automated the process, based partly on the information supplied by the Poles.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

Engima had to be constantly cracked again and again, the different versions of it for each arm of the military, the mods that they made to it, stecker boards, extra reel etc. At one point during the war Bletchley were unable to decode naval enigma for months on end until they had another breakthrough (crucial for transatlantic supplies). It wasn't just a one off thing, it was an ongoing battle.

Plus they were dealing with a huge comms network, thousands of message per day from a network of listening posts into a central industrial scale operation, processing all the mundane data looking for important, useful stuff. Deciphering one of the early commercial Enigmas was only the first step, an important one though.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

But Turing wanted Colossus built to crack the Lorenz machine traffic on a large scale in a timely way.

The Enigma traffic was handled by one or more of The Bombe, an electromechanical beast.

Both machines used continuous loops of paper tape in the absence of computer memories.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

"One or more"

There were 155 Bombes operating by 1945, most at Bletchley and the rest at out-stations in case Bletchley was attacked. There were also US Naval versions of the Bombe at Eastcote.

The Bombe used rotary reel positions and patch cables rather than paper reel.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

Primus Secundus Tertius

As I understand it the Bombe emulated the Lorenz machine and ran through various encodings to rapidly find settings that looked like they might be the ones used to encode the message and then these were tried in Colossus.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

The colossus job was only to find the rotor positions of the centre two rotors of Lorenz, though Lorenz had 12 in total, just the centre two was enough to let them in.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

@Tom 7

It was Colossus that emulated the Lorenz machine; the Bombe emulated the Enigma machine. If I have correctly understood the tour guides at Bletchley and TNMOC, the aim of both machines was to find the rotor settings, i.e. the crypto key.

This was done by testing "cribs": guesses at typical message headings, date and time, etc. Colossus/Bombe used two paper tapes, one with the encrypted message and the other with the crib. C/B tested many, many key settings and displacements of the crib from the start of the message.

The original Enigma message was then transcribed on a Typex machine, a British "Enigma" modified to mimic the original Enigma. As pointed out above, there were numerous variations of the Enigma.

Equally, there was a pseudo-Lorenz machhine. The Lorenz machine was a weighty beast, fit only for a headquarters role. The Enigma was portable.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

The Bombe machines didn't use paper tape and Colossus only has one tape containing the encrypted message (although each machine had 2 tape readers to speed up change overs).

There was a machine which used 2 tapes, one for the key stream and the other for the cypher text. Its name was Heath Robinson and it was the the machine that inspired Tommy Flowers to design Colossus.

You can see rebuilds of Colossus, Heath Robinson and the "pseudo-Lorenz" AKA Tunny machine at TNMOC.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

Bombes broke Enigma, Colossus broke Lorenz.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

Colossus can find settings for all the wheels, but it could only work on 2 at a time.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

Doh! Spat that one out without thinking again.

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3D Simulation

Well, pretty.

Anyone got the plans for the Lego Technic version (without an RCX brick, just cogs, buttons and Lego lamps)?

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FAIL

Re: 3D Simulation

The virtual Lorenz cipher machine has all screw slots in the northeast-southwest orientation. I am convinced not even the Germans could achieve that.

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Re: 3D Simulation

re screw slots. I wouldnt bet on that - I've seen heavy machinery where that happens. Some watchmakers do it to.You can either make sure its engineered like that* or put small spacers at the bottom of the hole.

*Some modern machines will always start tapping the holes at the same angle and the screws from batches can be similar enough to achieve that Anal Retentive look.

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Timely

I just happen to be reading Neal Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon' at the moment.

This fits in rather nicely

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Re: Timely

Unfortunately I don't believe this simulation has an 'output via morsecode capslock' setting for the more paranoid among us...

(PS, have you thought about reading the Baroque Cycle after you're done with Cryptonomicon? You'll recognise some of the names...)

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Strange Bedfellows

I am reminded that the first time I saw images of the Lorenz machine, I was struck by the resemblance (that is, identical appearance) of the "range selectors" to those on Teletype(tm) machines of the roughly 1928-1960 era. Later I found out that Teletype had an arrangement with Kleinschmidt to manufacture in Europe, and that factory presumably did some work for "competitors" during the recent unpleasantness.

OTOH, a friend who worked in sorting U.S. Navy goods for disposal as surplus, after the end of hostilities, ran across boxes of power resistors manufactured by Siemens and having a "received and inspected" stamp of 1944 or so. "Business is Business".

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Re: Strange Bedfellows

"Business is Business".

Well of course it is. Do you believe that no British companies are selling or buying product to/from countries that we are or have recently fought against? Only trade in military supplies is usually banned, and general purpose goods and goods that have a civilian application are rarely prevented.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Strange Bedfellows

Indeed. Read Edwin Black's "IBM and the Holocaust" for an in depth look at another odd (or maybe not so odd) pairing.

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Misunderstandings

What I gather from the posts is that most people have an incomplete understanding of Enigma and Lorenz. Can I suggest that a visit to The National Museum of Computing would help clarify the differences and the roles of Turing, Tutte, Newman, Tester and other key players, and also the use of the Bombe and Colossus.

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+1 for the TNMOC

Well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the desolate wilds of Milton Keynes.

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My grandfather regaled me with stories about his work with the "Enigmas" during WW2. How fast he was with them, how uncrackable they were.

I wonder if it's a blessing in disguise that he passed before Ultra was declassified, so he never found out that (accounting for the above-mentioned cat&mouse game) for the most part the Allies (and therefore to a certain extent the Soviets) were reading over his shoulder.

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Belated Mothers' Day Trivia:

Mum was from a prominent Boston family and joined up as a US Navy WAVE (officer) and spent the war in charge of "a room full of girls decoding messages" at Nebraska Ave in Washington. She alone had say over who could enter this room, and once let it slip that her job was to decrypt the messages that "the girls" couldn't.

She never talked much about it, but there were two books in her library about Enigma. Sadly, she died before the bulk of it came out, and we never grilled her about exactly what she did. She does have a Unit Commendation ribbon, so I'm pretty sure she was decoding "their" messages, as opposed to ours.

She took up Braille transcription at 50, and never failed to do the crossword in the morning. Used to sing the alphabet song...backwards, to me and my brother.

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The NSA man did not understand enigma

The NSA had a real enigma at the RSA show this year. NSA man was showing how people could encrypt a short message and then decrypt it. So I asked him, pointedly, how this could possibly work because there was not Encrypt/Decrypt lever. Just double encrypted to produce the plain text. Just got a blank look.

[The way this works is extremely clever for a mechanical machine, but turned out to be its fatal flaw. It is central to the whole story.]

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Re: The NSA man did not understand enigma

Did he not mention the initial reel positions based on a one time pad code?

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