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Of Enigma Machines and Windtalkers
Kirt's Cogitations™ #176

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Of Enigma Machines and Windtalkers

Perhaps with all the scares of successful hacking into presumably uncrackable, coded wireless and wired network services, a page should be taken from the World War II handbook. As any WWII history buff knows, major battles turned on the ability of the Axis and Ally cryptographic teams' ability to decipher each other's super-secret codes. Entire operations that took months of planning were suddenly thwarted by a last-minute breakthrough. Ingenious and sophisticated schemes were derived, most notable the German "Enigma Machine," which defied cracking and allowed the Germans to dominate and decimate the North Atlantic shipping lanes. Japanese spies captured many critical keys in the South Pacific theater. All coding schemes were eventually cracked with one exception - the natural tribal language of the Navajo Indian. So unlike any other of the world's known languages was theirs that the War Department enlisted the aid of those Americans to become what would be referred to as the "Code Talkers." Patriotic members volunteered for service in areas of some of the most intense fighting to lend their on-the-spot secure communications capabilities by simply speaking their native tongue at command centers and on the front lines. So strange was the Navajo language that the enemy never figured out how to decipher it all through the end of the war. Successes at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima were attributed to the Wind Talkers unit. The Wind Talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945, serving in all six Marine divisions. So, maybe the answer to preventing stolen credit card and bank account numbers online lies in the development of an NES (Navajo Encryption Standard) to replace NIST's current star, AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). Even the up-and-coming quantum computers that are predicted to be able to crack any existing code scheme in minutes could not touch NES in a lifetime.

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