BRITAIN'S FUNPLEX OF EARWIGGING GCHQ has given citizens a present to celebrate its 100th birthday (who knew? The first couple of years was probably just one bloke earwigging conversations through a rolled up newspaper).
The company announced on Twitter that it has created emulators for Enigma, Typex and The Bombe - three of the most formidable cypher machines in history.
Developed using the Agency's own CyberChef app, which it uses to manipulate data internally, and can handle Base64 encoding and compression the three emulators are available to download and fiddle with via the mighty GitHub.
The story of Enigma is in many ways the story of WWII. The extensive developments made by Alan Turing and his Bletchley Park team allowed Enigma to be cracked, giving Allied forces access to Axis messages, turning the tide of the war.
The Enigma had previously been cracked by the Poles, but with Poland under Nazi occupation, their Bombe machines were out of reach of the Brits.
Typex was a "British Enigma" which used the same cypher system, allowing messages to be decoded on the fly.
The three virtual machines are fully documented and include some exercises to test your ability to be another Turing. Who knows - maybe one day Benedict Flumpetybump will be playing you in a movie?
Although on the face of it, these seem like fun little diversions, their open source nature makes them a great way to understand both coding and cryptography in an ‘almost live' environment.
And if you are thinking that it might just be easier to get some originals from an Army Surplus store, think again - Enigma machines, especially in working condition, are incredibly rare and can fetch silly amounts at auction.
Most recently a 1934 model, in working condition went under the hammer at Sotheby's with a guide price of between $180k and $200k. μ
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