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Subscribe to our Newsletter Get the latest tips, news, and developments. Type or paste a DOI name into the text box. This is not intended to be a scholarly work nor to be an exhaustive treatment of either the methods or history of cryptology. The fact and fiction of this discipline is endless. Our intention in presenting this material is to provide interested persons, often school students, with basic information and links to resources that might assist them. Why not head over to the Cypher Research Laboratories home page?
It is believed that the oldest known text to contain one of the essential components of cryptography, a modification of the text, occurred some 4000 years ago in the Egyptian town of MENET KHUFU where the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the tomb of the nobleman KHNUMHOTEP II were written with a number of unusual symbols to confuse or obscure the meaning of the inscriptions. In 5BC the SPARTANS, a warrior society famed for their austere lifestyle, bravery, and skill in battle, developed a cryptographic device to send and receive secret messages. This device, a cylinder called a SCYTALE, was in the possession of both the sender and the recipient of the message. To prepare the message, a narrow strip of parchment or leather, much like a modern-day paper streamer, was wound around the SCYTALE and the message was written across it. Although the Greek writer POLYIBUS described a substitution technique, its first recorded use was by JULIUS CAESAR.
Messages were encoded by substituting the letter in the text by one that is three positions to the right. A became D, V became Y etc. The reason why a substitution of three letters, and not four, two or six, was chosen has never been explained. Although he had made the most important advance in cryptography in at least five hundred years, he did not develop his concept. Probably in 1854, CHARLES BABBAGE, developed the method of statistical analysis by which he successfully decrypted messages encrypted by the Vigenere square.
Britain could decrypt Vigenere messages sent in the Crimea, this fact was not discovered until the twentieth century. On or about January 16, 1917 two Room 40 cryptanalyst WILLIAM MONTGOMERY and NIGEL DE GRAY, were given a message encrypted in the German Foreign Office code, a BOOK CYPHER number 0075. By the next morning they had deduced enough of the message to be chilled by its content. In short order the full text was recovered and presented to US President WILSON. On April 2, 1917 the then neutral US declared war on Germany and by 1918 Germany had been defeated. MEXICO version of the original Zimmermann cable. This of course differed from the original for procedural reasons associated with its re-transmission from Washington to Mexico City.
Towards the end of WWI the head of cryptographic research for the US Army MAJOR JOSEPH MAUBORGNE introduced the concept of a code based on truly RANDOM keys. This would take the form of two identical pads printed with lines of randomly generated letters. Using the Vigenere technique, each page is to be used to encrypt and decrypt ONE message and then destroyed. The weakness of the Vigenere square was the repetition of the key. This method is still in use today, called the ONE TIME LETTER PAD or OTLP, and is used for encrypting the most secret of communications. There can be no doubt that times of conflict focus both national identity and national capability.
This in turn leads to accelerated sociological and technological change. Struggling under the weight of axis forces in the west and Japan in the east, the use of encryption by the allied nations and the interception and decryption of enemy cyphers became a game of life and death. To protect this vital information, the message was encrypted using Japanese Naval code 25 or JN-25. 1 Wireless Unit in Townsville, North Queensland. United States of America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada made presentations.