How Long Would It Take To Break Enigma Today?

This is a question that occasionally comes up on discussion forums–how long would it take to break Enigma’s encryption with tools available today?

Back in 2017, cloud-based server provider, DigitalOcean participated in a publicity stunt with Enigma Pattern in which an “artificial intelligence” program cracked an Enigma-encoded message in 13 minutes.

Enigma Pattern, a DigitalOcean client, used a range of modern machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques and methodologies to break the Enigma code in just 13 minutes and for a cost of only £10.

The team, led by Lukasz Kuncewicz, taught the artificial intelligence system to recognise the German language by feeding it Grimm’s fairy tales, and after long hours contemplating them, it started to be more and more confident in its classification.

They then recreated the most sophisticated version of Enigma (four rotors navy type, one pair of plugs), which has 15,354,393,600 password variants, in the programming language Python. Just like the bombe the Polish and British had used, they set it up to test all possible combinations of the password – the only difference being they didn’t limit the number of passwords.

ComputerPhile has a video exploring how one might go about cracking Enigma in 2021 without using an AI.

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