Friday, March 24, 2017

The Abwehr’s Enigma G cipher machine and Procedure 63

The Cryptologia article Mr. Twinn’s bombes is available from the Taylor and Francis website and it has some very interesting information on the Enigma G cipher machine, used in WWII by the German military intelligence service Abwehr.

The Enigma G was different from the version used by the German military since it did not have a plugboard. Also its stepping was more frequent due to the many notches in the rotors.

According to the article it was used by the following Abwehr networks:

1). Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, Bordeaux

2). Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Salonika

3). Berlin, Vienna

4). Berlin with stations in Turkey

The device was issued with 3 rotors only (while the military version used 3 rotors from a set of 5). In some networks the rotors were rewired during the war.

Several indicator systems were used in the period 1941-44. Up to August 1942 the message key was enciphered twice on the Grundstellung (basic setting). The 8 letter sequence was the indicator at the start of the message. This was the same procedure used up to 1938 by the German Army and Airforce.

From August 1942 the double encipherment of the message key was dropped and instead it was enciphered on the Grundstellung only once.

In the period late 1943-early 1944 a new indicator procedure was introduced. This was part of new security regulations called Procedure 63 - ‘Verfahren 63’. The new system used two basic settings. One for the network and one for the station. The cipher clerk first enciphered the message key twice on the network’s basic setting and then enciphered the 8 letters again at the station’s basic setting.

It is interesting to note that an OKW/Chi report dated August 1944 says that Procedure 63 was not secure:

D) Agentenverkehr

Die Vorschrift Nr.63 genügt nur dann zeitgemässen Sicherheitsansprüchen, wenn auf jeder Linie nur wenig Verkehr auftritt. Es soll versucht werden eine bessere Vorschrift auszuarbeiten.

Es wird dafür gesorgt werden, dass alle anderen mit Enigma-Maschinen arbeitenden Behörden usw. nur die vom Ausschuss geprüften und zugelassenen Vorschriften benutzen.

Google translation:

D) Agent traffic

Regulation No.63 only meets current safety requirements if only little traffic occurs on each line. A better regulation is to be worked out.

It is necessary to ensure that all other authorities working with Enigma machines, etc., use only the regulations audited and approved by the Committee.

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