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AI cracks Enigma code in 13 minutes

'Tirpitz T244a Enigma Machined, made in Germany for the Japanese

It took just 13 minutes and cost £10.

And involved a computer recognise German, from a standing start.

A company called Enigma Pattern did it by combining machine learning and artificial intelligence, running its algorithms on cloud servers provided by DigitalOcean,

The team taught the artificial intelligence system to recognise the German language by feeding it Grimm’s fairy tales. “After long hours contemplating them, it started to be more and more confident in its classification,” said DigitalOcean.

They then recreated the most sophisticated version of Enigma (four rotors navy type, one pair of plugs), which has 15,354,393,600 password variants, in Python.

The next step used a virtual ‘bombe’ – the custom electro-mechanical code cracking machines created by Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, amongst others, and based on the bomba of Polish code breakers.

“Just like the bombe the Polish and British had used, they set it up to test all possible combinations of the password – the only difference being they didn’t limit the number of passwords,” said DigitalOcean.

The output of this bombe was connected to the artificial intelligence system, which signalled when the Python algorithm produced something resembling the German language.

“Enigma code is a complex system and decoding the message takes time as does checking to tell if the decrypted message is German,” said Enigma Pattern head of data science Lukasz Kuncewicz, who lead the team. “When you have billions of possible passwords to try, it all adds up to days. If we had used the power of only one machine, it would have taken two weeks to go through all of the possible combinations.”

Instead, Enigma Pattern ran a parallel version of its bombe on 2,000 DigitalOcean virtual servers.

“They gave us the green light, and it worked,” said Kuncewicz.

The 13 minute code-crack was executed at 41 million combinations per second.

There is more on the processing involved on GitHub.

And more of the story here on LinkedIn.

Picture: Made by Germany for the Japanese. A modified model K Enigma. Called model T by the Germans but called a Tirpitz by the people at Bletchley Park (though it was not used on the ship Tirpitz).

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