Cryptanalysis – Legacy of the Enigma Machine in the Security World

Legacy of the Enigma Machine in the Security World

During the turn of the 20th century, trans-continental communication had been made possible by the development of the telegraph. Essential messages would be communicated to individuals from distant locations, making it possible to pass basic information swiftly. However, it soon emerged that this form of communication was not as safe as previously through as it was apparent that it was prone to code breakers. Such was the case when a telegram from Zimmerman to the German embassy in Mexico was intercepted. The contents revealed that Germany had been plotting secretly to invade the United States using Mexico as a proxy in the event the former joined the First World War (Winkel, 2005, p. 56). Germany now became aware of the adverse effects that this miscalculation had on their war efforts and soon embarked on sophisticated ventures to secure their codes. The ‘Enigma’ was first developed by the Cipher Machines Corporations (CMC) and was quickly adopted by the security forces as a way of securing communications. It proved a useful tool in the war effort due to its ability to scramble the message in a sophisticated manner that made it difficult for the Allies to break the code. It was only after the cryptanalysis of the Enigma that the Allies were prosperous in the Second World War. In this essay, I will discuss how the Enigma machine changed the security world, significant milestones in cryptanalysis and its impact on data security.

By the time the Second World War was at its peak in the European fronts, securing messages had emerged as the primary means of succeeding on the battlefield. Axis powers, led by Germany were using sophisticated technology that was responsible for the decisive victories they were enjoying. It was soon established that all this was courtesy of their use of the Enigma machine that had been the bane of code breakers. Telegrams containing vital German intelligence on excursion plans, troop movement, and impending attacks were well hidden from their adversaries, but all this was to change soon. The British employed the services of Allan Turing who applied cryptanalysis to break the secret Morse-code communications from the Germans, therefore ensuring that they were always steps ahead. In reality, this was the birth of military intelligence which played an essential role in providing that the Allies won the Second World War. Technological milestones developed from this first instance which would first culminate in the development of the Colossus computer in 1943 (Garfinkel, Spafford, Garfinkel, & Garfinkel, 2002, p.78). It also led to the mathematical basis of this information theory in 1948 as the brainchild of Claude Shannon. The quantum states would then be produced in the 1970’s to enable countries to conjugate coding. Using the cryptosystem in 1978, Bob McEliece was successful in inventing a randomized encryption process integral to information. By early 2000, the United States government had already embedded cryptanalysis in all its programs and was now able to secure data in and outside its borders.

The impact of the Enigma machine on data security has been far-reaching. The failings of the Enigma machine were used by to develop modern day encryption innovations that secure data. In Cryptanalysis of the Enigma, both Robert Weiss and Ben Gatti are unanimous in asserting that the Enigma machine is responsible for most of the information security features that we presently enjoy around the world (Cryptanalysis Of The Enigma Machine. Robert Weiss & Ben Gatti at 44CON 2012, 2013). Security was enhanced when enigma increased the number of variables with layers of protection that are akin to the VPN used in most com computers. It, therefore, accounts for nearly all cases of enhanced data security around the world.

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