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Cryptography in the World War II (Fall 2012)

            The increasing use of cryptography leads some major battle of the Second World War to an unpredictable and unexpected result. With the help of decrypts the Nazi’s message, allay win significant battle and finally win the Second World War. Cryptography is considered as one of the potential unpredictable prospects of the major influence of the war. Since the invention of Enigma machine, cryptography including encryption and decryption was of great use in information-delivery area in WW2. “The second world war brought a shift from handwritten cryptography to machines capable of spinning up complex, ever-changing codes. The best known of these was the Enigma machine, first used by the German navy in 1926.” (New Scientist, 210(2813), 44.) The method of cryptography is using way to encrypt messages while delivering to prevent Reveal that information to the enemies. “The symbolic computation language, Maple, is used to specify and simulate the performance of time-varying substitution cipher systems known as rotor machines, the most famous examples of which are the ENIGMA machines used by Germany during World War II.” (International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science & Technology, 30(6), 867-887) By studying the way of how Enigma machine and Maple language works in cryptography, analyzing the cases and contributions of cryptography in World War II, would help protect our own message and try to detect enemies’ moving trends in modern war.

            Basically, the way of Enigma machines work is quite complicated. “Enigma machines used three or four mechanical rotors to scramble electrical circuits that assigned the letters of the message to be encrypted into letters of coded text. The rotor settings were changed regularly, often every day, meaning that messages seldom shared the same encryption.” (New Scientist, 210(2813), 44.) It is a lot of work to protect the information. The more work the more protective of the information. The information is critical to war. Protect own information and break enemies’ information would lead to a completely different result of the war. Although it is a lot of work to protect the information, it is worth to do so.

            Enigma machines are the carriers of cryptography method. That is to say, the math methods are used to present codes in the Enigma machines. “A mathematical model is presented, initially for a one-rotor machine. The direct implementation of this model in Maple provides a prototype system from which more efficient implementations are derived via a process of program transformation. The one-rotor system is then generalized to an N-rotor system. The paper provides a tutorial on the application of symbolic computation to a problem of interest to students of mathematics and of computer science.” (International Journal Of Mathematical Education In Science & Technology, 30(6), 867-887) That is how to encode and decode by using math method and based on the Enigma machine during the war time.

            One of the contributors on decryption is Alan Turing, a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. “During World War II, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.” (Wikipedia: Alan Turing) “Before the start of war Turing turned to the problem of breaking Enigma, the coding machine adopted by the German navy in 1926, followed by the army in 1928 and the air force in 1935. The Enigma operator typed the plain message at the keyboard, and each time he pressed a key, a letter on a lampboard lit up. Each time the operator pressed a key, the internal wiring of the machine altered, thanks to three rotating wheels at the heart of the machine; so that if the operator repeatedly keyed A (for example) a succession of different letters would light up. At the receiving end, the cipher text was typed into a machine set up in exactly the same way as the sender's, and the letters of the plain text lit at the lampboard.”(History Today, 54(7), 7) Because of Turing’s tremendous breakthrough on computer science especially on cryptography area, Ally finally break out Nazi’s information in some major battles, moreover, helped to turn the tide of the war. 

            The most well-known case of the use of cryptography is U.S. navy successfully break the Japanese troops’ code result in the success of Pacific battlefield and turn the tide of the Second World War. The Naval Security Group is an organization of U.S. troop which helped to recognize useful information from thousands of messages received and decrypted everyday. “Tasked with providing communications intelligence (COMINT) on the Japanese Navy, the unit is credited with breaking the Japanese code JN-25 and changing the course of the war at the Battle of Midway in the Pacific during World War II.”(U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 131(10), 74-75) The process of Navy break out Japanese information is a critical breakthrough to turning the tide of World War II. “Navy attack aircraft ambushed the Imperial Japanese Navy's aircraft carrier force 70 years ago and thus helped shape the rest of World War II in the Pacific. Many factors affected the operation. An indispensable one was the ability of U.S. communications-intelligence officers to decrypt Japanese radio messages. The information they provided enabled carrier-based dive-bombers to be in position northwest of Midway Atoll to deliver a devastating attack and sink all four enemy aircraft carriers. The rest of the Japanese force, part of which was intended to invade Midway itself, slunk home in defeat.”(The Lead CODE-BREAKER of Midway. U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 138(6), 62-65.)  With the help of decrypt Japanese radio message, U.S. Naval could have an advanced response to the trends of Nazi troops. And finally lead to the winning of Pacific war. 

            In the Second World War, the Europe battlefield also has contributions on cryptography. Another case showed that Finns successfully break out Soviet’s code with the help of Japanese operations which resulted in important information relieved of Ally. “Japanese intelligence operations in Scandinavia became active after the collapse of Poland in September 1939. Both the Japanese and the Finns exchanged information on Soviet military cryptography and tried to decrypt the enemy's codes. As a result of the cooperation, the Finns succeeded in decrypting Soviet naval code at the beginning of the Continuation War. Onodera Makoto, Japanese military attache in Sweden, collected a lot of valuable information on the Allied Powers in the neutral country, though the General Staff in Tokyo disregarded them as unreliable.”(Scandinavian Journal Of History, 33(2), 122-138.) Fortunately, these important information was not aroused attention by the Japanese and does not caused serious consequence.

            Cryptography is not only can used in military area, but also can be used in every aspect of human’s life. For now, a new method of protect and break personal information through internet is aroused a wild attention. “Side-Channel Attacks (SCAs) can break a cryptographic implementation within a very short time, and therefore, has become a practical threat to embedded security. This work presents Virtual Secure Circuit (VSC) as a software countermeasure to SCA. VSC provides protection to software by emulating WDDL, an SCA-resistant hardware circuit style. VSC is algorithm independent. This enables designers to protect different cryptographic software with only one solution.” (IEEE Transactions On Computers, 62(1), 124-136.) Cryptography can be used in every aspect in our daily life. That is why people are aware of the importance of privacy protection in the recent years.

            With the development of science and technology, more and more new methods were used in the military area since the industrial revolution. Cryptography was first appeared and in used in the late of World War I, however, was developed rapidly in World War II. From the result of World War II, it is obviously that cryptography is of great use in the war. Compared to the traditional war, modern war is influenced by varies factors including atom bombs, the use of radar, and sonar. Modern war is no longer the competition between humans. Every aspect could change the war to a completely different direction. Cryptography is not only useful in the war, but also considered as a good tool to protect ourselves and prevent privacy invading from personal point of view. On the national perspective, under the peaceful environment of the world in general, economic competition between countries is becoming more intense. Cryptography can be used in the commerce area as well. Companies need to protect their secret document to prevent violating information privacy by other companies which may caused a large loss of profit. Moreover, on the military area, cryptography is becoming more and more important than the past years. As Lambert, M said in The Navy's Cryptologic Community -- A Transformational Phoenix? that “We don't need to rely on legend to see the Naval Security Group or the Navy cryptologic (now information warfare) community return to its former prominence. The organizational construct, training, and infrastructure has changed. What will not change is the value of each sailor's contribution to the success of the Navy in current and future conflicts.” (U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 131(10), 74-75.) With the help of breaking codes and getting secret information, Bin Laden was killed by the U.S. military as a well-known case. In conclusion, cryptography is of great use in all kinds of related area. The more study of this new method, the more helpful in human’s life. 

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  2. Campbell, M. (2011). CODES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. New Scientist, 210(2813), 44.
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  4. Stillwell, P. (2012). The Lead CODE-BREAKER of Midway. U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 138(6), 62-65. 
  5. Inaba, C. (2008). Japanese Intelligence Operations in Scandinavia during World War II. Scandinavian Journal Of History, 33(2), 122-138. doi:10.1080/03468750802078872
  6. Copeland, B. J., & Proudfoot, D. (2004). Alan Turing: Codebreaker and Computer Pioneer. History Today, 54(7), 7. 
  7. Escue, L. (1991). Coded contributions. History Today, 41(7), 13-20. 
  8. Chen, Z., Sinha, A., & Schaumont, P. (2013). Using Virtual Secure Circuit to Protect Embedded Software from Side-Channel Attacks. IEEE Transactions On Computers, 62(1), 124-136. doi:10.1109/TC.2011.225
  9. Lambert, M. (2005). The Navy's Cryptologic Community -- A Transformational Phoenix?. U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, 131(10), 74-75.