Tuesday, February 28, 2006

M4 Project: Celeron Vs WWII Enigma

The M4 Message Breaking Project is maybe the creepiest and yet fascinating distributed computing project you could devote your processor to (well, maybe after S.E.T.I.).
As you might know, during WWII Nazis used to encrypt their communications through a device called Enigma, consisting in a series of rotors activated by a keyboard.
In 1942, three encoded signals were intercepted in the North Atlantic, and their content remained unknown, until now.
The project, started on January 2006, is called M4 after the rotor which was presumably used for the encryption; the software is an open-source, cross-platform client written in Python, and the method used for the decryption is a mixture of brute force and a 'hill climbing algorithm': it has been estimated that 100 users, running the client 24/7 on Celeron 1,2 GHz processors, should cover the 'search space' in 4 days, with a successful result every 10 completed searches.
The first message has been broken last week (as the project blog reports), so if you want to take part in this geeky spy story you'd better hurry up.

[Via DIY: happy]

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