Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Encryption Security The Military United Kingdom News

After Weeks of Trying, UK Cryptographers Fail To Crack WWII Code 263

Posted by timothy
from the reopen-bletchley-park dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A dead pigeon discovered a few weeks ago in a UK chimney may be able to provide new answers to the secrets of World War II. Unfortunately, British cryptographers at the country's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been unable to crack the code encrypting a message the bird was tasked with sending and say they are confident it cannot be decoded 'without access to the original cryptographic material.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

After Weeks of Trying, UK Cryptographers Fail To Crack WWII Code

Comments Filter:
  • No surprise there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:22PM (#42077237)

    Given that the original message looks supiciously like it was encoded with a one time pad, it's really not at all surprising that they can't crack it without the relevant pad. Which was probably destroyed a long time ago.

    • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:30PM (#42077345)

      Which was probably destroyed a long time ago.

      Which is, some time after destroying the one-time pet?

    • Easy! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:40PM (#42077413)

      Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!

    • ...looks supiciously like it was encoded with a one time pad

      Exactly. One time pad encryption the most secure. Unless they can track down the encrypting agent, he's (she's) still alive, and lucid enough to speak, its not happening. Or they find a code book with that day's pad in it, in a long forgotten room or something.

    • by DrVomact (726065)

      Given that the original message looks supiciously like it was encoded with a one time pad, it's really not at all surprising that they can't crack it without the relevant pad. Which was probably destroyed a long time ago.

      I'm curious: how do you tell by the looks of a cyphertext that it was encrypted with a one-time pad? Yeah, it's written in groups of five characters, and makes no (obvious) sense...but that is no clue as to the method used to encrypt the text. Breaking up words into equal groups is done (obviously) to obfuscate word boundaries, it's not a practice restricted to one-time pads.

    • ... and in this case, sent with a one time pigeon

  • by nurb432 (527695)

    Should give it some time before one calls it quits.

    • by OneAhead (1495535)
      It very much looks like they quickly concluded that it was encrypted with a one-time pad [wikipedia.org]. Bearing in mind that this was encrypted using practices devised by the same institution that's trying to decrypt it now, this conclusion can't be difficult to reach. Now, a truly random OTP with a length that is equal to or longer than the length of the message has been mathematically proven to be 100% secure against cryptanalysis by anyone who doesn't have the key. So that's what they're doing now - figuring out if th
  • Cracked! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:27PM (#42077309)

    I just installed windows XP using the first row.

  • Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Bell Peppers, Ham and Onions... ...it's the recipe for my typical omlette!!

    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      Ah, but in the UK, they're called "sweet peppers" or just "peppers". Maybe it's a duress code?

  • OVOMALTINE!

    http://www.ovomaltine.com/ [ovomaltine.com]

    BTW light wheat malt, fresh milk and fresh chocolate syrup is tastier but not as convienient. For an improved taste use sprouted wheat flour ala diastatic malt. This is the only ahref=http://www.ehow.com/how_4620081_sprouted-wheat-flour-diastatic-malt.htmlrel=url2html-22218 [slashdot.org]http://www.ehow.com/how_4620081_sprouted-wheat-flour-diastatic-malt.html> place I could find it.

    Yes it is on topic if you know history. ;)

  • "Dearest Benito, bunker is boring. Eva going stir crazy. Any idea how Battle for Berlin going?"
  • pleas ebloc kallc himne ysstu pidpi geons
  • ... a joke someone intentionally left... it can't be crecked because its not encrypted.

  • Its worse than that. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @05:50PM (#42077469)

    My Aunt was a radio communication specialist in the channel islands where they communicated with the underground and later the anti Nazis within the third reich. My Dad was involved in counter espionage within Great Britton. They were both recruited by the Canadian military and then trained by the combined British and Canadian military intelligence division long before the US joined in.

    Not only was key info done with one time cipher it also used specialist language. For instance the word pie after decryption might be construed to be to mean supplies. Only the individuals who were taught the language could decode it and no more than a few individual agents sending info from within Germany or France used the same code specific language.

    If the pigeon corpse was from D Day then it would have been really early in the landing. As the beach head was secured the code receiving specialist people moved in to undisclosed places in Normandy. Are they absolutely certain the pigeon was from D Day? If not it may have been from other sources as my aunt told me there was some underground agents using them before 1944...Some even in the Dieppe region!

    • by ewanm89 (1052822)

      The message was sent to GCHQ in Cheltnam to decode, GCHQ is what replaced the Government Code and Cipher School which was based at Bletchley Park and had 2 tasks: 1) keep our communications secure using codes and ciphers and 2) break AXIS codes and ciphers. People focus on the second one but the first is also important and we were very good at both parts. Now they kept copies of the code books like you describe (our bomber crews replaced them regularly and were charged with burning their copies if they cra

  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:00PM (#42077541)

    In the UK, in our authoritarian wisdom, we made it illegal not to provide passwords or decryption to encrypted material.

    GCHQ are now well within their rights to arrest the pigeon to learn it's secrets.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      GCHQ are now well within their rights to arrest the pigeon to learn it's secrets.

      http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com]

      Looks like we've found an edge case where that might not work. I'm not putting it past them trying though.

  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Friday November 23, 2012 @06:50PM (#42077919)

    What if that is not an encrypted message, but the encryption key for a message?

    I am not a cryptography expert, but I suppose there would be no way to discern the two right?

    If it is the key and not a message, than no amount of decryption effort would matter.

    END COMMUNICATION

    • by swillden (191260)
      If a one-time pad was used, it doesn't matter one bit whether the paper contains the key or the message. No amount of cryptanalysis will recover anything, ever.
  • When all the old Cobol programmers were dead are retired, and the y2k hysteria descended up on us, they found a large and active community of cobol programmers in India. May be the Indian Army is still using the techniques they learnt from the Brits to get secret messages our of Islamabad and Lahore, Pakistan to the Research and Analysis Wing in New Delhi. So check them out. Some Havaldar-Major Harpreet Singh, 109th Signal Company, 7th Punjab Guards might recognize the code.
  • Even though it hasn't been cracked, yet...let's call it "Dead Pigeon Cipher"
  • Is there a possibility of that being the one time pad?

When you don't know what you are doing, do it neatly.

Working...