Thursday, March 28, 2024

Crypto's Cast with Dr. Carola Dahlke as First Guest

I'm pleased to announce the first guest on our brand new Crypto's Cast. The goal is to bring interesting bite-size stories for crypto enthusiasts, but also to tickle the interest of listeners with limited or no knowledge on cryptography.
The Cast is a group of crypto experts, historians and collectors that will bring fascinating stories, with topics ranging from cryptologic history, its technology and science, important historical events, influenced by cryptography, renown cryptologists, cipher machines, the making and breaking of codes and crypto algorithms, crypto and privacy, to books and websites.
Our first guest is Dr. Carola Dahlke. She is the curator of the department of Computer Science and Cryptology at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, and expert in historical crypto equipment. There's hardly a better guest to start our podcast, as she was instrumental in documenting and preserving the Schl├╝sselger├Ąt 41, a German cipher machine, far more secure than the famous Enigma, but unknown until recently.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Ringway Manchester

Ringway Manchester

The Ringway Manchester YouTube channel is a fascinating journey into radio waves, but hard to describe, as it covers so many subjects with signals as the common theme. Lewis created hundreds of videos on various signals from across the world and explains the equipment and historical context behind them.

No extensive documentaries, but interesting bite-sized 5 to 15 minutes videos about shortwave listening, numbers stations, military transmitters, pirate radio, Cold War relics, clandestine radios and spies, transmitter locations and mysterious and even frightening signals, but also reviews of transceivers, receivers and handheld scanners.

Click banner to visit the YouTube channel

Visit also Lewis Ringway Facebook, RingwayManchester X (Twitter) and M3HHY Instagram, well worth following.

Below some Ringway Manchester videos that might want you to buy a shortwave receiver and start surfing the radio waves. Many more videos available at his YouTube channel. Enjoy listening!



The Most Terrifying Shortwave Signal Ever


Saturday, February 03, 2024

Podcast Nuggets Episode 10

Click for more

After a long break, we resume the Podcast Nuggets series, covering a selection of excellent talks about signals, intelligence, wars and espionage. In other words, ordinary everyday life. Some of the podcast pages provide additional information, photos or videos. We start with a fascinating career in SIGINT, prisoners in Hanoi Hilton with a direct line to the CIA, the SAS raising hell in North Africa, how to steal paintings, and working for the CIA or FBI, or maybe not, who knows? If you want more podcast introductions, just click the above Podcast Nuggets icon.

COLD  WAR Conversations - Uncovering Cold War Soviet secrets with the USAF and NSA. In 1975, Tim joined the US Air Force to see the world. He hoped for a job in electronics but was redirected to the field of communications analysis. After basic training, he was sent to the Joint Cryptologic school at Goodfellow AFB (Air Force Base). He served at the Air Force Electronic Warfare Center at Kelly AFB in Texas, RAF Chicksands in the UK, working on SIGINT collection of USSR targets, the Cryptologic Support Group, Strategic Air Command HQ, and Offutt AFB in Nebraska, providing SIGINT briefings to US Strategic Air Command. In 1983, Tim transferred to the NSA, and was later posted at GCHQ, the British Government Communications Headquarter. An amazing career and lots of stories to tell.

SPYCRAFT 101 - POW Spy Ring in Vietnam with Jim Stockdale. Jim is the son of US Navy aviator, Admiral James Stockdale, who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. His father was  imprisoned in the Hualap prison, a.k.a. Hanoi Hilton, where the prisoners were interrogated and turtured. Despite the harsh prison regime, het set up a communications network within the prison to secretly collect information, and support and encourage fellow prisoners. From within the prison, they also established a covert communications channel with the CIA.

HISTORY HACK - SAS Forged in Hell. When David Sterling founded the Special Air Service in 1941, he described it as forged in hell, and they definitely raised hell in the deserts of North Africa. They were the pioneers of unconventional warfare, and to operate behind enemy lines, they had to cross thousands of miles in the Sahara desert. You simply could not order regular soldiers to carry out such suicide missions, but the SAS members were volunteers, despite all odds against them. This was thanks to officers like Paddy Mayne, because the soldiers knew he would never ask them things he would not do himself, and he often lead from the front. Following the capture of Sterling in 1943, Major Payne became commander of the SAS, the unit that, according to Field Marshall Rommel, caused more trouble than any other unit. A fascinating story about a brave man.

SPYCAST - The Most Famous Art Detective in the World. Andrew Hammond interviewed retired Special Agent Robert Wittman about the creation of the FBI Art Crimes Team, a special unit, tasked to locate and recover stolen works of art. Not quite the career you might expect when working in the FBI, but Bob quickly came to appreciate both the job and the artwork. He explains how art thieves operate, the inside jobs and how the Art Crimes Team uses intelligence tradecraft to locate stolen paintings. Robert also talks about working and living undercover abroad and how they brought home many priceless pieces of art, worth millions of dollars.

ALPHABET BOYS - Season One: Troyan Hearse. In two seasons, journalist Trevor Aaronson reveals secret investigations from the FBI, CIA, DEA, ATF, and other so-called alphabet agencies. He exposes secret undercover recordings that the government never wanted you to hear. Make sure to check out all the FBI documents, photos and undercover videos. In the first season, you learn how a mysterious antifa warrior in military fatigues arrives into town, driving a hearse filled with guns. Who is the man that infiltrates the 2020 protests, and who are the bad guys?

ALPHABET BOYS - Season Two: Up in Arms. The story of an undercover operation with a fake arms dealer and Colombian rebels. But who are the bad guys? The weapons dealer of course, but didn't he work for the CIA, or was it the FBI? No, of course he's a criminal, or a spy, but for whom? It's confirmed, and denied. One thing's for sure, it's a big mess. Two excellent seasons, well told, with audio interviews and covert recordings. Highly recommended!

Monday, January 29, 2024

Cipher Machines 3D-CT Digitalisation

The Deutsches Museum in Munich made available a large collection of  Cipher Machines 3D CT scans. The 3D-CT digitization project for historical cipher machines uses computed tomography, based on X-ray technology. This enabled the researchers to examine objects in detail, without disassembling their components and risking damage.

Hagelin CX-52 3D Scan
© Deutsches Museum

Visit the CT-Viewer to explore the collection of 63 different cipher machines in high resolution. Select one of the cipher machines and click the Slice View button to explore any slice of the machines. Choose a YX orientation and move the slice control to travel through the machine. Scroll the mouse to zoom in.

Select the Volume View button to explore the scans in full 3D. Hold the mouse button and move the mouse to turn the cipher machines in any direction. With the mouse wheel you zoom in and see the machines in great detail. Once you have the desired view, you can select the High Resolutions option to see the tiniest details.

Slice view of the Kriegsmarine Enigma M4 © Deutsches Museum

The slice view is particularly interesting to examine the inside of components that are too fragile to disassemble. In the above scan you can explore the rotors with the scan slices coming towards you. Choose the Enigma M4 (opens in new window), select menu Slice View,  orientation YZ and high resolution. Scroll the mouse to zoom in.

Use the slice text field (more accurate than the slider). Enter 345 to adjust the slice and see a rotor notch ring that carries the letters (press the enter key to validate). Enter 360 to see the internal wiring of the rotor core, 380 for the locking arcs to adjust notch ring setting, 395 for the thumb wheel and 405 for the rotor ratchet and the stepping pawl that moves the rotor. You can zoom in by scrolling the mouse. You just disassembled an Enigma rotor without touching! 

Visit the Deutsches Museum 3D-Cipher page to explore all machines and learn all about the 3D scanner, the technology and how they visualized the machines and the animations. You can also visit their excellent cipher machines collection.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

20 Years Cipher Machines and Cryptology!


This year, the Cipher Machines and Cryptology celebrates its 20th anniversary. It all started in the first days of 2004 with a tiny users page on a server, to share the very first version of the Enigma Simulator. Over the years, and with the help of fellow crypto enthusiasts, the website gradually grew by adding more crypto machines, their history and technical details, simulations, and several cryptologic challenges. In early 2022, the website finally moved to its own domain, and the feared drop in visitors due to the move never occurred, with thanks to the visitors, and Google.

The statistics exceeded all expectations. Meanwhile, the website received more than 4.5 million views, and not only to read about cryptology. No less than 340 participants from 44 countries entered the Enigma Challenge, the Crypto Box Challenge 83 persons from 26 countries, and Operation Tinker Bell is completed by 28 persons from 16 countries (updated 20 February). A big Thank You to all those who invested time and effort in solving the various challenges, which are still open to new participants

The kind feedback in the guestbook, posted by 306 people from 51 countries, is much appreciated. Never imagined that a little project, to create a simulation of an old crypto machine, would become such a journey into cryptography. The interest in this website, and similar websites from many friends, shows that the fascinating history of cryptography continues to attract people from across the world. And the love for cryptography is exactly why the website was created!

Many thanks and best wishes for 2024, to all friends, participants and cryptography enthusiasts. See you at the website!

Historical and technical information about crypto machines,
cryptology and free software simulation