UK codebreakers stumped by WWII pigeon message

Nov 23, 2012
UK codebreakers stumped by WWII pigeon message

British intelligence officials are baffled by a secret World War II message that was discovered on the leg of a dead pigeon, they admitted on Friday.

The message, consisting of 27 hand-written blocks of five letters, was attached to a pigeon skeleton that was found by retired probation officer David Martin when he was renovating his house in Surrey, southeast England.

Martin handed the piece of paper to experts at GCHQ at the start of November, and they have been scratching their heads ever since.

Codebreakers said the message, which did not include a date, was impossible to crack without its codebook.

Written on a small sheet of paper headed "Pigeon Service", the code was found in a small red canister and listed the sender as "Sjt W Stot". The recipient is named as "X02".

A GCHQ spokesman said: "Although it is disappointing that we cannot yet read the message brought back by a brave carrier pigeon, it is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code-makers that, despite working under severe pressure, they devised a code that was indecipherable both then and now."

Britain used some 250,000 as military messengers during .

Explore further: Voice, image give clues in hunt for Foley's killer

More information: The message in full reads:

AOAKN HVPKD FNFJW YIDDC
RQXSR DJHFP GOVFN MIAPX
PABUZ WYYNP CMPNW HJRZH
NLXKG MEMKK ONOIB AKEEQ
WAOTA RBQRH DJOFM TPZEH
LKXGH RGGHT JRZCQ FNKTQ
KLDTS FQIRW AOAKN 27 1525/6

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antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 23, 2012
it is a tribute to the skills of the wartime code-makers that, despite working under severe pressure

One-time pads have been used for a long time for very important messages. If the above code is written using one then there's no way to break it.

The numbetr code at the end may well be just that: a code to tell the recipient which page/paragraph of a one-time pad was used as the cypher/key.
The 'groups of five' letters clusters is very common in cryptography (it's just a way of writing messages and has no bearing on the cypher used).

JohnTNYC
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2012
In addition to a one-pad cipher, it could possibly be a Vigenère cipher and we are left scratching our heads because we don't know the keyword or keytext. Several of the keyword books have been released, but too many of them are still kept in the vaults at Vauxhall Cross.
Sean_W
1.4 / 5 (12) Nov 23, 2012
Couldn't it be a set of keys to codes rather than a coded message itself?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (20) Nov 23, 2012
One-time pads have been used for a long time for very important messages. If the above code is written using one then there's no way to break it.
There are ways to break codes using one-time pads as described in the book Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephensen. I read it on recommendation of this woman:
http://www.busine...-10?op=1
Confederated
2.1 / 5 (21) Nov 23, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.
tadchem
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2012
The smaller the sample of a ciphertext the more difficult it is to crack. At 135 ciphers this is a medium-sized text, but that does not make it 'easy'. Certain assumptions have to be made to get started. This is obviously (to a trained eye) not a simple substitution cipher. The 5-letter grouping indicates there was *some* cipher training involved.
The one-time pad and the Vigenère cipher are likely candidates. If the author, "Sjt W Stot," was a trained cryptographer he could have used either. If he could be identified as one of those few trusted with codebooks, then this could be a true code (with the 5-letter groupings each standing for a whole word of whatever length, rather than 5 deciphered letters).
In any case a message that could be encrypted in 135 letters would be succinct, but could be long enough to have great importance.
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (12) Nov 23, 2012
There are ways to break codes using one-time pads as described in the book Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephensen.

I read that book, too. And as with many other cryptographic methods the ability to crack it relies on sloppy implementation (in this case using pseudo-random number generators rather than true random numbers (and possibly some cribs))

Even so, the method described in the Cryptonomicon isn't applicable here (if we're dealling with a one-time pad at all), because even if there is a skew in the random number generation the message is too short to make use of it.

In any case a message that could be encrypted in 135 letters would be succinct, but could be long enough to have great importance.
It may be padded to a predefined length. Any one-time pad can be used only once (obviously). There is no reason not to encrypt to maximum length each time (when using pigeons) and deprive listeners this 'channel' of distingusihing importance by length.
Lurker2358
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 23, 2012
Must not have been "too" important, because it didn't reach it's destination and nobody seems to have missed it.
zz6549
3.8 / 5 (12) Nov 23, 2012
The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.


Yourself a prime example of this phenomenon. The fact you say "codes like this" indicates you know next to nothing about cryptography.
Telekinetic
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2012
Must not have been "too" important, because it didn't reach it's destination and nobody seems to have missed it.

The coded message may have revealed Nazi sympathizers within the English government and even the Royal family, whose ancestry is German.
Telekinetic
2.5 / 5 (15) Nov 23, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.

Since the Communists are still there, your code-breaking skills were nothing to brag about.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (23) Nov 23, 2012
The coded message may have revealed Nazi sympathizers within the English government and even the Royal family, whose ancestry is German.
What you mean the norman invasion? Or the The House of Hanover, a German royal dynasty which has ruled the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg (German: Braunschweig-Lüneburg), the Kingdom of Hanover, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It succeeded the House of Stuart as monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714 and held that office until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901...?

-So what? Euro monarchs were often from elsewhere and, like george I, couldnt even speak the language of their subjects.

All were related and all were descended from charlemagne. All were engaged in orchestrating constructive wars among the peoples of europe. It was as is a crime family had gained control of an entire continent. Which was exactly the case.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (25) Nov 23, 2012
Since the Communists are still there, your code-breaking skills were nothing to brag about.
ALSO, from the way events unfolded in southeast asia we can conclude that the US never intended to defeat communism. The main Purpose of that war was to destroy the incipient religionist cultures which had always resulted in overgrowth and conflict. This required the combined efforts of BOTH western and communist forces over the course of many generations.

The proof is that today vietnam is a prosperous and productive member of the world community. This is Victory by any measure.
Telekinetic
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2012
This is what I'm referring to and I doubt that it's taught in English history lessons today:
"Edward VIII was a fascist sympathiser, a friend of Adolf Hitler. That was common among the British ruling class whose biggest threat came from the socialist movement, with the example of the Russian revolution still fresh in the memory. Several of the current Prince Philip's sisters married German aristocrats who backed the Nazis. Philip was a minor Greek royal from a German line but was transformed under the tutelage of the influential Lord Louis Mountbatten, Queen Victoria's great-grandson. He renounced his Greek titles. Out went the Greek Orthodox religion. In came the Church of England. He learned to ride a horse.

Mother of invention
THE OUTBREAK OF the second world war saw George VI and his Consort get their hands dirty, very dirty. They were closely associated with the policy of appeasement with Hitler."
Telekinetic
1.7 / 5 (12) Nov 23, 2012
Since the Communists are still there, your code-breaking skills were nothing to brag about.
ALSO, from the way events unfolded in southeast asia we can conclude that the US never intended to defeat communism. The main Purpose of that war was to destroy the incipient religionist cultures which had always resulted in overgrowth and conflict. This required the combined efforts of BOTH western and communist forces over the course of many generations.

The proof is that today vietnam is a prosperous and productive member of the world community. This is Victory by any measure.

The "Golden Triangle" of poppy fields was the true focus of Western interests in the region, not some flimsy pretext like keeping Communism in check or cockamamie religious cleansing. It was about MONEY! Afganistan has some poppy fields that our troops guard presently.
_ilbud
4 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2012
Oil, it was oil.
Vendicar Dickarian
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 23, 2012
It says "Comstock was a political whore".
Goforbroke
5 / 5 (2) Nov 23, 2012
I believe the letters have been mis-transcribed in a few places, with "U"s transcribed as "W"s and a "G" transcribed as an "F". Starting at the top line at left and moving across, the third group should read FNFJU. The fifth line, first group should read UAOTA. The seventh line, second group should read GQIRU. The characters transcribed as "W"s in these groups do not match the other obvious "W"s in the other groups and the "F" in the last group looks more like the other "G"s and not an "F".
SteveS
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2012
More information here

http://www.bbc.co...20456782
PhotonX
3 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.
Okay, game on. How long until you break THIS message?

Must not have been "too" important, because it didn't reach it's destination and nobody seems to have missed it.
Who knows? Might have shortened the war by six months, as in "Hitler is sleeping HERE tonight". Or not.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (20) Nov 23, 2012
The "Golden Triangle" of poppy fields was the true focus of Western interests in the region, not some flimsy pretext like keeping Communism in check or cockamamie religious cleansing. It was about MONEY! Afganistan has some poppy fields that our troops guard presently.
The history of the Progress of this civilization is a record of the destruction of cultures which would impede this Progress. Drugs were used to destroy Chinese culture during the opium wars. Drugs were used to assist in the destruction of the pre-ww2 religionist cultures in the west.

There are MUCH BIGGER issues in this world than money, and the People in charge if it know full well that any money anywhere would be WORTHLESS if the authority that legitimizes it were to collapse. Their future and the future of their children is at stake. The future of CIVILIZATION is at stake. And They are not willing to let some idiot religion in some backwater part of the world rise up AGAIN and take it away from Them.
mrlewish
3.3 / 5 (7) Nov 23, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.


So sport, so why haven't conservative schools jumped in to save the day and show how superior they are?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.9 / 5 (21) Nov 23, 2012
Communism was CREATED by the west. The German army smuggled Lenin back into Russia by sealed train to commandeer the revolution and ensure that it develop according to Plan. The first thing he did was to kill all the true communists. Thereafter it was used as a magnificent Engine of cultural destruction throughout Eurasia.

In concert with national socialism it depopulated the continent and ENDED the religious influence on euro politics which had CREATED the chronic conditions of overpopulation and war. It continued throughout Asia, annihilating BOTH nationalist and communist hordes by the millions and replacing the cultures which produced them with a brutal martial law.

Overpop ceased. PEACE REIGNS except where war has been necessary to clean up the fringes. What you see is Progress of the kind which ENDURES.

City mounds stand throughout the middle east in testament to civilizations which blossomed, and grew, and collapsed from within or were destroyed from without. Nie wieder.
antialias_physorg
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 23, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.
So sport, so why haven't conservative schools jumped in to save the day and show how superior they are?

Well, they lost vietnam to an infinitely 'inferior' foe (at least in terms of materiel and money) - how 'superior' do you think they really are?
LorentzFactor
2.2 / 5 (11) Nov 23, 2012
Anyone who thinks that a one time pad can be broken is wrong. Period. They cannot be deciphered without SOME information as to the system used. For example, if this is a one time pad and I could offer you several keys in a short time if I felt like taking the time that would 'decipher' this message into any message of my choosing. Manually produced one time pads can't be broken if only used once or you only have one sample to work with. If you have multiple samples you could plausibly do a dictionary based comparative attack, wherein you take the first 15 characters of several chose words (using grammar selection so you reduce the wordlist size and time) and basically brute force the first message and use the resulting cipher against the other samples to determine if they all create valid returns. If so you can then speed things up by using linguistic selections for the dict in further tests. This is of course not guaranteed and requires multiple samples of something....
LorentzFactor
1 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2012
that was intended to only be used one time, which is exactly WHY it's only supposed to be one time. So the chances of such is very low and now, exceedingly improbable. Next, machine created one times are not random at all, they just appear so. Still requiring multiple samples, although not from the same cipher key only the machine, one could determine how the keys change over time and look for patterns that belie the randomness of the cipher's production. With this one could then determine sequentially defined ciphers with keys produced from the known production sequence orders. Although dumbed down quite a bit, this is basically how the German's enigma machine one time pad was broken, as they tended to use the same cipher for multiple messages each day.

So in short, no it cannot be broken without the codebook, because even were you to test this cipher text against every possible key for this length set,you'd find you also have every possible message that can fit in it
burair_haider_9
1 / 5 (2) Nov 23, 2012
awkward moment when someone wrote gibberish to mess with our heads
jimbo92107
4 / 5 (4) Nov 24, 2012
We used to break VC codes like this all the time in Viet Nam. The only explanation is that liberal schools have dumbed down the world to a point that no one can solve a simple cryptoquote.


Feel free, braggart.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2012
Couldn't it be a set of keys to codes rather than a coded message itself?
@Sean: No. Keys are guarded like gold. No way would anyone tie one onto the the leg of a pigeon and toss it on the air. And what need would there be to do this anyway? Remember, the pigeons aren't flying to units in the field--they are flying back to their homes, presumably in England.
Warfarin
not rated yet Nov 24, 2012
Some obvious things: 27 is the number of code blocks. It begins and ends with the same sequence. There, see, I've solved it. ;P
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (15) Nov 24, 2012
Well, they lost vietnam to an infinitely 'inferior' foe (at least in terms of materiel and money) - how 'superior' do you think they really are?
Nothing inferior about the surviving religions which have perfected the art of outgrowing and overrunning their neighbors. They've had 10k years to evolve. Democracy is an infant by comparison.
MrVibrating
1 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2012
Some obvious things: 27 is the number of code blocks. It begins and ends with the same sequence. There, see, I've solved it. ;P


You're right, i didn't notice that at first glance.

Doesn't this seem to preclude an OTP then? The sequence "AOAKN" would be far more likely to recur if a substitution cipher was used, rather than a random pad. At the very least it would suggest the pad is no longer than the message, and probably shorter... less than 27 blocks anyway. You'd think, with some historical knowledge of the conventions of the time, that'd be a big giveaway, no?
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (7) Nov 25, 2012
Well, they lost vietnam to an infinitely 'inferior' foe (at least in terms of materiel and money) - how 'superior' do you think they really are?


While that is technically true, it's not the soldier's faults. It was the corruption of our government (which largely remains unchanged).

When leaders own a healthy share in the weapons and military vehicles manufacturing companies, those individuals "win" by making larger profits. They make larger profits by prolonging fighting, and wasting resources (in national terms) so that their companies can "sell" more things to the government.

Let's ask a frightening question in regards to war. Where do you balance morality and ethics with practicality in strategy?

The U.S. today seems to lean so heavily towards protecting "civilians" that our military never seems to accomplish practical objectives. For example, we never "actually" defeated Al Qaeda, after all, they ARE civilians. They are the guy down the street, looks, dresses normally.
Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2012
If William Sherman or Ulysses Grant were alive today and in command of the U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, (or Pakistan after they found out Pakistan was hiding Bin Laden,) what do you think those campaigns would look like?

They practiced total warfare against their own people, so you can sure as hell bet they'd do the same against another nation supporting terrorists.

One must ask the question regarding dealing with an absolute evil such as Islamic terrorism, "How do you stop it short of killing every last person in the entire planet who subscribes to that ideology?"

Much of Iran.
Hamas
Islamic Jihad
Hezbollah
Al Qaeda
much of the "Muslim Spring" movement

The answer is you CAN'T.

As long as there's even one of the bastards left alive, they'll brainwash their kids and start up another cult/terror cell.

Yet, if you bomb all their cities you'll just recruit for them, because you'll piss off all the so-called "moderates" and make even more enemies, who'll become radicalized.
mountain_team_guy
1 / 5 (7) Nov 25, 2012
looks like a one time pad to me. the length is about right for a tactical field report. you cannot break it unless you can find fault in the random key generator.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.9 / 5 (19) Nov 25, 2012
The U.S. today seems to lean so heavily towards protecting "civilians" that our military never seems to accomplish practical objectives. For example, we never "actually" defeated Al Qaeda, after all, they ARE civilians. They are the guy down the street, looks, dresses normally.
The reason we can't defeat al quaida is because it has an unending source of raw material to call upon, generated by you religionists. People are forced to bear more children than they can support, these children grow up hungry and angry, and their religion tells them exactly whose fault that is. Read your holy book for explicit instructions on how to make this happen.

Al quaida will be dissolved when and only when it's Purpose has been Served. It was established to entice hotheads and herd them into the guns of western forces. There was no Arab spring in Pakistan was there?
Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 25, 2012
The reason we can't defeat al quaida is because it has an unending source of raw material to call upon, generated by you religionists.


1, You've been reported for correlating me with al qaeda.
2, You're clearly blaming everyone who believes in God for terrorism even when they have absolutely nothing in common with their doctrines or theology. Maybe you need an education so you can be capable of distinguishing completely opposite beliefs and teachings from one another.

People are forced to bear more children than they can support


I'm aware of no such thing happening at any time in the western world, except in Mormonism (Catholicism officially forbids contraception, but their own laity rejects the church leaders' insane stance, so they don't count.)

These children grow up hungry and angry, and their religion tells them exactly whose fault that is.

Actually, if they read the Bible it would tell them to blame their own parents' irresponsibility.
Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2012
I don't know what the Koran says about child rearing and finances (probably something twisted, I'm sure,) but the Bible says:

1, "A righteous man leaves an inheritance for his children and his children's children."

2, "He who does not care for his own family is worse than an infidel."

So if you want to take what the BOOK says, and apply it practically, then nobody is supposed to have more children than they can reasonably support. To do so is unbiblical, and obviously unwise and immoral in any context anyway.

Protestant christian missionaries in Africa have been trying for over a century (along with U.N. and other bodies doing charity work more recently,) to teach at least some rudimentary form of common sense and rationality regarding sexual morality, family planning, and so on, not to mention funding charity schools and housing to try to stop the cycle of ignorance, but largely to no avail because it appears to only get worse each decade.
TheKnowItAll
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2012
I find this strange how so many people seem to know that it was a one time code. What proof is there that I missed?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (20) Nov 25, 2012
1, You've been reported for correlating me with al qaeda.
No I said al quaida
2, You're clearly blaming everyone who believes in God for terrorism even when they have absolutely nothing in common with their doctrines or theology.
No actually they have everything of practical importance in common. Name one thing your religion promises that any other religion does not promise.
Maybe you need an education so you can be capable of distinguishing completely opposite beliefs and teachings from one another.
Your religion promises, in return for unconditional devotion:

1) eternal life in paradise
2) wishes granted
3) dibs on land, resources, and repro rights
4) etc
5) the rest is all fluff and pr
I'm aware of no such thing happening at any time in the western world
Women in your religion (whatever it may be) were traditionally restricted to the sole activity of MAKING and RAISING BABIES. This was ALWAYS the case in the western world. This is overgrowth by FORCE.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.9 / 5 (19) Nov 25, 2012
I don't know what the Koran says about child rearing and finances (probably something twisted, I'm sure,) but the Bible says blah
It also says:

"All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense." Lev 20:9
"A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death." Lev21:9
"But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night)...they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death..." Deut22:20-21
"If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods...kill him." Deut13:7-12

-Typical sentiments to be found in ANY holy book and available whenever needed. You think that because the koran repeats them more often it makes islam BAD and xianity GOOD??? HISTORY PROVES YOU WRONG. As usual.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (20) Nov 25, 2012
...but the Bible says blah
And if you are one of those custom godders who think jesus came to earth to make righteous Lawbreakers of you all, the NT says:

"34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

"'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

37 "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

-not unlike hitlerjugend reporting their parents to the gestapo. God first before law, MORALITY, dignity, friends, family, and even oneself. ANY religion says this. You cant win here QC. You NEVER win.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (20) Nov 25, 2012
nobody is supposed to have more children than they can reasonably support. To do so is unbiblical
God led 2M out into the desert to wander for 40 years with no means of support. But god promised to deliver and lo, he sent manna by the ton.

"28 God blessed them and said to them,"Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." gen1, gen9:1

"You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock." deut7

"Thus says the Lord God, 'I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel [read - WORLD]. When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it[read - INFIDELS]." Eze11:14-18

-God here is providing a NEW FLOOD of believers to cleanse the earth.

"19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." phil4
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.8 / 5 (20) Nov 25, 2012
Three very telling excerpts:

"11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." 1tim2

-And:

"From men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants." psm17

-And:

"hold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." psm127

So... how was church?
LorentzFactor
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2012
TheGhostofOtto1923 and Lurker2358, seriously? Why don't you take that crap to another forum. This isn't the place for it and is COMPLETELY irrelevant to this topic.

I find this strange how so many people seem to know that it was a one time code. What proof is there that I missed?


No one said we knew. It was a very common type of cipher system used during that time and is quite secure (and very simple to both create and use even with limited resources available). It's just extremely likely it's a one time pad.

If it is a pad however, the interesting thing there is the repeated usage in the first and last code blocks which would be very odd for a one time pad to display unless it was a repeating cipher key(less code block cipher keys than total code blocks), in which case it becomes tremendously easier to crack since you can do dictionary based attack with character rotations against two sets of similarly enciphered blocks. It'd be neat if this were the case
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.9 / 5 (18) Nov 25, 2012
Anyone who thinks that a one time pad can be broken is wrong
"Isn't that impossible?" Bischoff asks. "There is no way to break a one-time pad, short of stealing a copy."

"That is true in theory," von Hacklheber says. "In practice, this is only true if the letters that make up the one-time pad are chosen perfectly randomly. But, as I discovered, this is not true of the one-time pads used by Detachment 2702—which is the mysterious unit that Waterhouse, Turing, and these two gentlemen all belong to."

"But how did you figure this out?" Bischoff asks.

"A few things helped me. There was a lot of depth—many messages to work with. There was consistency—the one-time pads were generated in the same way, always, and always exhibited the same patterns. I made some educated guesses which turned out to be correct. And I had a calculating machine to make the work go faster."

Cryptonomicon
http://www.euskal...e60.html

-Somewhat akin to van eck phreaking.
LorentzFactor
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 25, 2012
"There was a lot of depth—many messages to work with."

I covered this aspect of determining the cipher key in the two posts I made (the second half being at the top of this page of comments).
I meant to say that if this is a one time pad, even if the entropy of the key generator is far from perfect, it matters very little as we only have one key cipher text to work with from that angle (that'd require multiple messages with multiple cipher keys used). Here however we do find some repetition. Which suggests either a repeated small key:text ratio one time pad, or given that it is repeating at 27th block, perhaps some style of vignere block rotation (rather than per character rotation), but both would still require the first and last blocks a) align and b) have the same 5 character text used. If we had examples of such message structure known we could perhaps reduce the word list of possible cleartext content in those positions. This would give some insight into the crypto used
kochevnik
1.6 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2012
TheGhostofOtto1923 and Lurker2358, seriously? Why don't you take that crap to another forum. This isn't the place for it and is COMPLETELY irrelevant to this topic.
Well Lurker seems like a nice guy but his penchant for belief makes him also swallow the Bin Laden fantasy even a decade after Bin Laden was already declared dead by a member of the state department. Moreover three highly placed people in the intelligence community have come out with the fact that Israel did 911, and not some goatherder hiding in a Pakistani cave. But the religionists must deny facts because religion is a disease of the mind.
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2012
A worthy lead as to the identity of the sender, his plane & mission, would be Warrant Officer W. Stott, of the Royal Australian Air Force. Many Aussies served in the European theater from the Battle of Britain through the end of the war. Their bombers had carrier pigeons aboard, and the official rank would not reflect field promotions at the time of his "Missing/Presumed Dead status. You can see his name listed here in Casualty Communique 455, reprinted in a secondary publication that forwarded these casualty lists: (Filter banned me from listing the internet source).
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
I find this strange how so many people seem to know that it was a one time code. What proof is there that I missed?


You can't really prove that, short of cracking it I guess.

I invented a cipher system which is probably unbreakable without a super-computer and a few dozen messages.

This could be anything.

How do you know it hasn't been through multiple substitutions and transpositions? It's small enough that such could have been done by hand if it seemed important enough.

The belief that it's a mere substitution cipher just shows how simple minded people really are. The Germans at least were using far more advanced systems during WWII, and I see no reason allies wouldn't have been doing more advanced things as well.

While the recurrence of "AOAKN" was something I noticed the first day this was posted, it's not exactly significant in terms of the original text. Transposition algorithms and even multi-substitution sometimes produce anomalous artifacts like this. Means nadda
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
In some cases, there may be no written record of the algorithms used, because obviously the officers could have just memorized the algorithm and a list of keywords between themselves and their superior/subordinates.

Writing down the algorithm, or a code book, whatever it was, would be foolish because it'd become a source of breach of the security of your system.
lane_gruenwald
not rated yet Nov 25, 2012
A worthy lead as to the identity of the sender, his plane & mission, would be Warrant Officer W. Stott, of the Royal Australian Air Force. Many Aussies served in the European theater from the Battle of Britain through the end of the war. Their bombers had carrier pigeons aboard, and the official rank would not reflect field promotions at the time of his "Missing/Presumed Dead status. You can see his name listed here in Casualty Communique 455, reprinted in a secondary publication that forwarded these casualty lists: (Filter banned me from listing the internet source).

Knowing the code practice of the unit he was in, the time & place of his missing, the context of the message would go a long ways in narrowing the speculation of the code itself.
TehDog
not rated yet Nov 25, 2012
The message, consisting of 27 hand-written blocks of five letters, was attached to a pigeon skeleton that was found by retired probation officer David Martin when he was renovating his house in Surrey, southeast England.

Assuming a homing pigeon, the home coop would probably be near (unless it was shot by some guy looking for lunch), so maybe a good area to look for connections.
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (2) Nov 25, 2012
Sergeant William Stott was a wireless officer from the Royal Australian Air Force assigned to a Liberator that disappeared October 4, 1943 while on submarine patrol. He posthumously received the rank of warrant officer:
The information appearing in this compilation is derived
from the collections of the Australian War Memorial and the
National Archives of Australia. It is online and more details of his unit last based in Reykvavik. This looks increasingly as a promising lead on who sent it, perhaps a temporary survivor adrift at sea.
Rafael P__rez
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2012
From: Sergeant W. Scott
To: Second in Command
Greeting
Today the federal government of the nation deploys troops in northern command with 10 Panzer IV tanks type (judgpanzer) and 200 lightly and heavily armed men with Karabiner 43.
Greeting
At 13:25 of 6th day
Rafael P__rez
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2012
From: Sergeant W. Scott
To: Second in Command
Greeting
Today the federal government of the nation deploys troops in northern command with 10 Panzer IV tanks type (judgpanzer) and 200 lightly and heavily armed men with Karabiner 43.
Greeting
At 13:25 of 6th day
Rafael P__rez
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 25, 2012
X02
"With decode 2 and 7"
AOAKN
HVPKD GOVFN PABUZ MEMKK AKEEQ LKXGH JRZCQ
AOAKN
1525/6

From: Sergeant W. Scott
To: Second in Command
"With decode 2 and 7, english and german languages"
Greeting
Heute, Goverment Federal Nation, Panzer Bude Zehn, Men Montieren K43, Kommandotruppe einhundert einhundert, Light and High Combat, Ziel Zeigen
Greeting
At 13:25 of 6th day

Translation in English:
From: Sergeant W. Scott
To: Second in Command
Greeting
Today the federal government of the nation deploys troops in northern command with 10 Panzer IV tanks type (judgpanzer) and 200 lightly and heavily armed men with Karabiner 43.
Greeting
At 13:25 of 6th day

Thanks ;D
R.P.
mosahlah
1 / 5 (7) Nov 26, 2012
From: Sergeant W. Scott
To: Second in Command
Greeting
Today the federal government of the nation deploys troops in northern command with 10 Panzer IV tanks type (judgpanzer) and 200 lightly and heavily armed men with Karabiner 43.
Greeting
At 13:25 of 6th day


Cute. How did you come up with the colon, periods, and parenthesis? Also, you don't have a format. The national govt deploys 10 tanks and 200 troops in the north? No specifics (Size Activity Location Unit Time Equipment or Uniform) noted. Just some random blab.
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2012
A full picture of the complete note may be seen by Googling it and showing images. Note the "Lib-1605" (best guess) in bottom left above "Time of Origin" box. Also note very faintly a long series of numbers at the top left edge of the sheet. Should note Squadron 120 flew Liberators, but Sjt. W. Stott's plane was serial number FK 923, not "1605".
rlt
2 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
"brought back by a brave carrier pigeon".... Anthropomorphization run amok. Perhaps a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross is in order? Or maybe a cup of cracked corn to the feathered descendants of the deceased?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2012
I find this strange how so many people seem to know that it was a one time code. What proof is there that I missed?

There is none. It was a simple statement on my part to put things in the article into perspctive.
People may be confused that codes used so long ago can't be deciphered using all the (computer) power we have at our disposal nowadays. I was simply trying to point out that there are codes/cypher schemes that are, mathematically, safe from analysis - no matter how much computing power you throw at them.

One time pads are a substitution cypher - and they are safe. but they have tow rather large drawbacks:

1) They require that the key be totally random (which is possible)
2) They require a key as large as the text. AND they require that the key be transmitted securely (this is the part where algorithmic encryption shines, by contrast. But on the other hand algorithmic keys are open to computational analysis)
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2012
Why didn't people see what I was talking about?

There are algorithms that are easier to remember than trying to remember a 127 character random key word.

The advantage of transposition-substitution is you can memorize an algorithm plus smaller key words, and rotate them by day of the week or such, and it's still just as hard or harder to crack than a much longer key, as long as it's not being over used.

I don't think every commissioned and non-commission officer went around with a book of codes and cipher algorithms in their pocket during the war, because it'd be too easy for an enemy to capture the system.

If it's not something every war vet or historian knows about, then it's something they simply memorized and there's no record of it.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
Rafael:

Are you trolling?

XO2 could easily be "Executive Officer 2/Second in Command"

Some of your other terms seem plausible as well.

BUT, why would anyone send a cipher with a way to identify the key? The receiver should already know most of the time. Putting information identifying the key would be dangerous because an enemy could use that to help break codes over time.

Besides, even if you were going to send a number identifying the key, for a one time key, then you'd disquise that number as well. You wouldn't just tack it on as numerical digits. There would be some system for hiding that information within the cipher text itself, for example nth group of 5 characters, etc.

"use decode 2 and 7" is ridiculous.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2012
How do you know that's not the 27th of June at 1525?!

What is the algorithm or key? If that's actually the text, prove it.
MrVibrating
1 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
I think he's kidding - the text was 1525 not 1325, yet why include so accurate a timestamp? A date - ie. incl. a month if not year - would be plausible, but "around lunchtime"?
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2012
Rafael:

"XO2 could easily be "Executive Officer 2/Second in Command"

...

Sjt Stott was on the Commanding Officer's Liberator, and the intended recipient was the X02 second in command of 120 sqn RAF at Reykvavik. Details to put message in context would be time of attack 1135, U 539 (Type IX new flak platform, worthy of a message back in itself), position coordinates for the battle. Date October 4, 1943. How it got in a chimney near Bletchly House will end up being the last mystery solved. Don't assume it flew there from the top down. May as easily been literally squirreled there from the bottom up by rodents, cats, even an eccentric over-worked cryptologist lol.
AndyEnglish
not rated yet Nov 27, 2012
Liberator serial number FK 923 flying with Squadron 120 was shot down by flak guns aboard U-537 (not U-539 per last poster) on 10/04/1943 per an image notation here: number59(dot)com/new_59/liberator(dot)html

Maybe this will help solve the mystery and code:)
AndyEnglish
not rated yet Nov 27, 2012
Liberator serial number FK 923 flying with Squadron 120 was shot down by flak guns aboard U-537 (not U-539 per last poster) on 10/04/1943 per an image notation here: number59(dot)com/new_59/liberator(dot)html. More info can be found here: ww2talk(dot)com/forum/war-air/12964-loss-liberator-fl923(dot)html
Noumenon
2.7 / 5 (12) Nov 27, 2012
Did they send out fake encoded messages (jiberish), during WWII to occupy and thus render harmless, the code breakers?
AndyEnglish
not rated yet Nov 27, 2012
Here are more details on Stott: cwgc(dot)org/find-war-dead.aspx?cpage=1
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2012
U 539 has in it's log books that survived the war the battle details, down to coords, times of each phase of the Liberator's attack, and is credited for downing Sjt. Stott's plane:
http://uboat.net/...u539.htm
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2012
I should add in the log book the Liberator was mis-I.D.'d as a Lancaster bomber, not a Liberator, but German records corrected that, and corresponds to the Liberator's loss. We're dealing with German, British, Australian sources for Sjt. Stott and the terminal incident, so times, descriptions in source documents can be conflicting. Also I've seen several sites with conflicting info as well, from typos to out-dated sources.
lane_gruenwald
1 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2012
Some good leads too on the AOAKN at the beginning and ending. Poet's poem stuff pointing to the Bible or the Koran. Poet's codes were so popular that after WWI a strong effort was made to disuse them and go with completely random one time key pads. But old habits die hard lol. The Koran and the Bible are nicely numbered and uniform, so they make easier code key references. There's even a post it may be the Bible's Genesis Chapter 27, verse 2, although the phrase would be apt for dangerous duty, more difficulty seeing the reference: 2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death (Am Old A? instead of "I" Know Not.

Koran: Post in hacker news: AOA could mean Asalam-O-Aliquem kn=koran hi or hello in English. The 27 1525/6 after the last AOAKN: Interestingly, Chapter 27, line 15, first letters of words 25 & 26 are the letters OH, one of the 3 code call signs of 120 sqn RAF.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2012
There are algorithms that are easier to remember than trying to remember a 127 character random key word.

But an algorithm (one that is less than 127 characters of information worth when trying to write it down) is open to mathematical analysis.
You can show mathematically that any algorithm that is PERFECTLY safe has at least as much information content (i.e. needs as much effort to remember it) as a corresponding one-time pad.

I don't think every commissioned and non-commission officer went around with a book of codes and cipher algorithms in their pocket during the war

OTPs were ususally reserved for the most sensitive (espionage/intelligence) communications as they are difficult to deploy (you need to hand off the keys manually/securely to the user - unlike in the case of an algorithm/cypher machine)
AndyEnglish
not rated yet Nov 28, 2012
U-539 confirmed based on location in log books.

The code is close to being broken:

http://jobloggsex...d-aoakn/
AndyEnglish
not rated yet Nov 28, 2012
It appears the RAF was using a SIGABA Electric Cipher Machine (aka CSP-889/2900), usually reserved for use by the US. The code can be deciphered using the CSP-889/2900 emulator here:

http://maritime.o...mapp.htm