Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Typex cipher machines for the Polish Foreign Ministry

In 1926, the British Government set up an Inter-Departmental Cypher Committee to investigate the possibility of replacing the codebooks then used by the armed forces, the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and the India Office with a cipher machine. It was understood that a cipher machine would be inherently more secure and much faster to use in encoding and decoding messages. Despite spending a considerable amount of money and evaluating various models by 1933 the committee had failed to find a suitable machine. Yet the need for such a device continued to exist and the Royal Air Force decided to independently fund such a project. The person in charge of their programme was Wing Commander Lywood, a member of their Signals Division. Lywood decided to focus on modifying an existing cipher machine and the one chosen was the commercially successful Enigma. Two more rotor positions were added in the scrambler unit and the machine was modified so that it could automatically print the enciphered text. This was done so these machines could be used in the DTN-Defence Teleprinter Network.

The new machine was called Typex (originally RAF Enigma with TypeX attachments). In terms of security it was similar to a commercial Enigma but had the additional security measure of multiple notches per rotor. This meant that during encipherment the rotors moved more often than in the standard Enigma machines. 
In the period 1939-45 the Typex was one of the main high level British crypto systems. According to documents found in British national archives HW 40/221 ‘Poland: reports and correspondence relating to the security of Polish communications’, it seems that the Polish government in exile learned about Typex and was interested in buying a small number of machines in 1944.

During WWII the Polish foreign ministry relied on enciphered codebooks for its secret communications. Perhaps they were interested in Typex because they considered their own systems insecure. Whatever the reason it doesn’t seem like they were given any machines since the report says ‘the supply position in respect of Type X is such that it is probably impossible to meet their requirements for the time being
It is interesting to note that the same report says ‘provided the Type X machines supplied were not fitted with Plugboard and provided also we wired for them and supplied the necessary drums, the advantages to be gained by meeting their request would outweigh the disadvantages’.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Soviet pre-arranged form reports

The war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was the largest land campaign of WWII, with millions of troops fighting in the vast areas of Eastern Europe. In this conflict both sides used every weapon available to them, from various models of tanks and self propelled guns to fighter and bomber aircraft. However an aspect of the war that has not received a lot of attention from historians is the use of signals intelligence and codebreaking by the Germans and the Soviets.

Codebreaking and signals intelligence played a major role in the German war effort. The German Army had 3 signal intelligence regiments (KONA units) assigned to the three Army groups in the East (Army Group North, South and Centre). In addition from 1942 another one was added to monitor Partisan traffic. The Luftwaffe had similar units assigned to the 3 Air Fleets (Luftflotten) providing aerial support to the Army Groups. Both the Army and the Luftwaffe also established central cryptanalytic departments (Horchleitstelle Ost and LN Regt 353) for the Eastern front in East Prussia. During the war this effort paid off as the German codebreakers could solve Soviet low, mid and high level cryptosystems. They also intercepted the internal radio teletype network carrying economic and military traffic and used traffic analysis and direction finding in order to identify the Soviet order of battle.
An important source of information on the Soviet military was their pre-arranged form reports sent at regular intervals by all units to their higher headquarters. These messages used a pre-arranged format to communicate strength, serviceability and loss statistics. By reading these messages the Germans were able to monitor the strength, losses and reinforcements of Soviet formations.

Luftwaffe Chi Stelle effort
Several TICOM sources give information on the exploitation of these pre-arranged reports by the codebreakers of the Luftwaffe. According to IF-187 Seabourne Report, Vol. XII. ‘Technical Operations in the East, Luftwaffe SIS’ (available from site Ticom Archive) pages 5-8 the reports had information on the condition of Soviet airfields, stocks of planes, ammunition, rations and fuel.

TICOM report I-107 ‘Preliminary Interrogation Report on Obltn. Chlubek and Lt. Rasch, both of III/LN. RGT. 353’, p4 says that the pre-arranged reports were extremely valuable to the Luftwaffe.
Army’ s General der Nachrichten Aufklaerung effort
According to FMS P-038 'German Radio intelligence', p115-7 pre-arranged reports sent by Soviet Army units contained information on personnel strength, losses, number of vehicles, guns, ammunition gasoline supplies and similar statistical data.


By analyzing this information the Germans were not only able to monitor the strength and equipment situation of enemy units but also make deductions about overall Soviet strategy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Heartbleed bug and OSS codes

The recently discovered Heartbleed bug is considered to be one of the worst compromises of internet security, so check to see if the websites that you’re using have fixed it and change your passwords.

I have added information and pics in Allen Dulles and the compromise of OSS codes in WWII.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Soviet cryptologic security failures in WWII – A sneak peak

I’ve already covered the cryptologic failures of the United States and Britain in WWII but I still haven’t covered the Soviet Union. According to Soviet/Russian sources their codes were impenetrable and the Germans were never able to compromise their high level communications links. Is that true?

Well I’m still researching this case and I haven’t copied all the available documents. Once I do I will write a detailed essay on Soviet codes.

For now here is a sneak peak: