The National Security Agency (NSA) will exhibit a German Enigma cipher machine during the National Cyber Summit, an ingenious and historic advancement in communication technology from the 1920s.
Enigma became the workhorse of the German military, used to encrypt tens of thousands of tactical messages throughout World War II. Though the number of mathematical permutations for every keystroke of Enigma was astronomical, Allied forces were able to decipher most of Enigma’s encrypted messages during the war because of the tireless effort of many Allied cryptologists.
The electromechanical machine used a combination of wired rotors and plugs to change each letter as it was typed. Today, many historians believe the Allies’ ability to decipher Enigma’s encrypted messages and act on that information shortened the war by as many as two years.
Visit the NSA booth during the National Cyber Summit for a rare opportunity to see how the enciphering and deciphering of messages provided critical communication ability in the field during World War II.