The weekly SILO Seminar Series is made possible through the generous support of the 3M Company and its Advanced Technology Group


with additional support from the Analytics Group of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Northwestern Mutual

An Introduction to the Enigma and the Cryptanalysis Against It

Dimitrije Kostic, Staff Researcher, Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences

Date and Time: Sep 22, 2015 ( 3:00 PM)
Location: Orchard room (3280) at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Building


The Enigma cipher machine was a series of encryption devices used before and during WWII. The Enigma had an enormous key space, one that the Nazis were sure the Allies would never be able to exhaust over, and because of this the Nazis were totally confident of the device's security and used it to communicate their most sensitive messages. But the Allies--a team of Polish cryptanalysts before the war, and the British cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park during the war--were able to devise an efficient attack on Enigma, one that produced a gold mine of military intelligence that gave the Allies an enormous advantage and, by some estimates, shortened the war by two years. These events were dramatized in the recent film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

In this talk we will delve into the details of how Enigma worked and how cryptanalysis was able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to attacking it.