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Ideal Christmas Present* – Personalised Enigma Logo Mugs!

Posted by Craig H on 3 November 2015

Today we’ve launched a new web site, enigmamug.com, and an associated CafePress store. The idea is that you enter your name, or whatever other word(s) you might like on a mug, it creates a design in the style of the Enigma machine logo and you can then (if you like it!) buy a mug with that design from CafePress. We have other designs also in the store: Enigma machine pluboards, with or without the plugs and cables, which we think look pretty good wrapped around a mug.
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Posted in Amusement, Bletchley Park, Cryptography, Enigma | Leave a Comment »

Imagine, 6 Tons of Punched Cards Every Week!

Posted by Craig H on 2 May 2015

An often neglected, but crucial, part of Bletchley Park’s work in World War II was the vast amount of data processing done using punched cards on Hollerith machines.  The department which did this was called the “Freebornery”, at first located in Hut 7 (since demolished) and later in Block C (recently restored as the new visitor centre).

There has been very little detail published on the day-to-day operations of the Freebornery, so I recently visited the National Archives and made a copy of a typewritten document they hold: “The Use of Hollerith Punched Card Equipment in Bletchley Park”.  With their kind permission, we are now publishing the text on our wiki for the benefit of researchers and other interested readers.
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Posted in Bletchley Park, Enigma | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Security Lessons from Bletchley Park and Enigma

Posted by Craig H on 29 May 2013

I had fun presenting at the DC4420 security meetup in London yesterday. The topic was “Security Lessons from Bletchley Park and Enigma” and the slides are now up on SlideShare.

We covered how the Enigma machine works, how Bletchley Park exploited German mistakes, and the five lessons I picked out were:

  1. Cryptosystems have subtle flaws
  2. Plan for key compromise
  3. Users pick poor passwords
  4. Pick a good RNG and trust it
  5. Don’t underestimate the enemy
  6. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cryptography, Enigma | 6 Comments »

Enigma Simulator: Live Demo & Lessons Learned

Posted by Craig H on 3 April 2012

I was privileged to present our Enigma simulator app at the Mobile Monday London Demo Night last night; it was pretty nerve-racking, doing a live demo in front of a vocal crowd of 200 knowledgable people with a strict time limit of 3 minutes, but happily the response was enthusiastic and positive!

Apart from giving everyone a quick lesson in how to use an Enigma machine, the main aim was to share the progress so far of our experiment, using in-app advertising and in-app billing for charity fund-raising. This chart shows the numbers of downloads in the few weeks following the app’s release on Google Play (green line) and the revenue breakdown between adverts (dark blue) and donations (light blue):

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Posted in Applications, Enigma | Leave a Comment »

Our First App Published: Enigma Simulator

Posted by Craig H on 4 February 2012

This started when I was asked to do some prototyping work on Android by a client last November; I hadn’t done any programming on Android before, but I was familiar with Java from my time working on Enhydra Enterprise at Lutris Technologies. When I joined Lutris in 2000 I was new to Java (after 15 or so years working with C on UNIX™) so I wrote an Enigma simulator in Java as a learning project (it was related to security, a good way of getting to grips with object orientation, and fun!) I hadn’t used the code in over 10 years since, but I dusted it off and got it running on Android to get familiar with the new environment.

Having spent a couple of days on it, I had it running with a rudimentary UI and was familiar enough with the Android SDK to put the Enigma project aside and concentrate on the paid work, but I did still wonder if something useful could be done with the code. Back when I first wrote the logic of the simulator, there was a real Enigma machine out on a table at Bletchley Park that you could physically use and experience what the real operators in World War II had to do. These days, with auction prices of the machines topping $200,000, they’re all locked away behind glass. Given the touch UI of Android, it occurred to me that a good enough simulation could be a useful educational tool, perhaps put alongside museum displays on a tablet computer to give people something of the real feel of the machine.

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Posted in Applications, Enigma, Payment | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Smartphone Apps, Cryptography and Export Controls

Posted by Craig H on 15 January 2012

You can’t work in software product security for as long as I have and not learn something about export controls, like it or not! Historically, many governments regarded encryption as military technology and defined and controlled it as such in their regulations. These days, pretty much anyone who uses the Internet or a mobile phone (and that’s more than 2/3 of the world’s entire population) uses encryption every day, for shopping on the web, logging in to social networks, or simply to call their friends. Nevertheless, export control regulations for encryption are still on the statute books of most countries around the world, and could still be enforced. The UK records of export control prosecutions and fines don’t include any relating to encryption technology in recent years; I would be interested to know if there have been any elsewhere.

Although I have sat in many export control meetings with lawyers over the last twenty-some years, I have to point out that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I just thought it might interest others if I share my thinking on the current regimes of export controls, as I’m now in the situation of needing to consider it (again) as we want to publish an Android app that contains cryptographic technology (a simulation of a World War II Enigma machine, more on this soon…)

The main things I’ve learned about export controls on cryptography are that common sense often doesn’t apply and nothing is ever simple.
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Posted in Applications, Cryptography, Enigma, Export Control | 1 Comment »