On this page, I will try to answer a few FAQ's I received
since I published my Enigma pages. I hope you find some
answers or solutions to your problems here. If not, you
can always send
me a mail.
I have an Enigma message, but don't know the key settings
to this message. Can you help me? Answer: Unfortunately, no! You need the
key settings for rotors, their order and ring settings,
the start position of the rotors, the reflector and
plugs. There are 107,458,687,327,250,619,360,000 possible
keys! More about this number at this page. An Enigma M4 is even harder to break. Breaking
one single small message is almost a mission impossible.
However, if you have vast computer power resources, the
proper cryptanalytic techniques, and some luck, you could
succeed. An example is Stefan Krah's M4 Project. Some mathematics about it can be found on the NSA website.
Can I buy a real Enigma machine? Answer: Yes! Many surviving Enigmas are
now hot collector items. You could contact people like
David Hamer, Tom Perera or John Alexander to buy one (see
my links page), or subscribe (that's free) to the CryptoCollectors Yahoo
group, a forum for people who
collect crypto machines. Prices range between 20 and
40,000 dollars, or more, depending on the model and
condition. No, you can't buy one from me. You could buy a
DIY Electronic Enigma-E , sold by the Crypto Museum for about 150 Euro.
I have problems deciphering your messages on another
simulator, or visa versa. Answer: First, check your Enigma
settings. This simulator, unlike many others, is fully
compatible with the real Enigma. If you haven't made an
error while setting up the machine, or a deciphering
error, the other sim probably works incorrectly. There's
a lot of software on the web that doesn't work like the
real thing. Some other correct working simulators, also
fully compatible, can be found on Frode Weierud's or Paul
Reuver's websites, or you can use Andy Carlson's online
Enigma Applet. They all work just like the real thing.
Again, double check all your rotors, their order and ring
settings, the start position of the rotors, the reflector
and plugs. Many Enigma novices forget one of these during
enciphering or deciphering.
I opened the lid on the Enigma simulator, to change some
rotors, and I can't close it again. Answer: There's no problem with the
program! Did you click the handle in the upper left
corner of the rotor area? If you did click it, and the
lid still doesn't close, there are some rotors missing in
the machine. All three (Wehrmacht) or four (Kriegsmarine)
rotors must be in place before you can close the lid. The
rotors, used in the Enigma, are at the top of the
machine, not to be mistaken with the box with spare
rotors, shown at the bottom of the machine. Once you
inserted all required rotors, you can close the lid by
clicking the handle.
Does your software contain viruses, spyware or other
nasty stuff? Answer: No! There are far easier ways to
send or download nasty stuff on people's computers. I've
spend years of research on cipher machines, and months to
write realistic sims. The source code is freely available at PSC. So why all that effort to send you a virus? I
just want to share my cipher passion. However, since the
source code is freely available, you could encounter a
bogus clone of this software elsewhere. The only official
downloads and latest versions are available only on my
Where can I see a real Enigma? Answer: A list of museums and places
where you can find Enigmas is available at Matt's Wiki Crypto Tourisme site.
You must be a smart guy. Do you work for NSA? Answer: Haha, No! Old cipher machines
are just a hobby to me, just as writing software.
Actually, most cipher machines are not that hard to
understand, and of rather simple construction. Anyone who
sets his mind to it, and wastes enough time on it, can
figure it out. Breaking cipher messages is another thing!
If I was an NSA employee, I would not write this (and
would probably have more money in my account ;-)
I want to send Enigma messages to my friends, how do I
set up my machine? Answer: To communicate with others, you
need to agree on the key settings of the Enigma. You will
have to create a key sheet and distribute it amongst your
friends. You can use my Enigma Codebook Tool
to generate key sheets.
My friend and I both have the Codebook Tool. If we enter
the same date, the Tool generates different keys! Answer: Of course! Each generated
codesheet is unique and cannot be reproduced. If anyone
could produce the same codesheet again and again, it
would not be secret anymore! The program isn't a
codebook, it generates unique codebooks. Once a codebook
is generated, one has to distribute the codebook text
file or a printed version amongst the users. A program
that would generate the same key over and over, would
compromise the secrecy of the keys.
Where can I find more authentic Enigma messages?
Answer: Authentic messages are very rare! CSG,
the Crypto Simulation Group, is occupied with breaking
over 500 original authentic German messages that survived
the War. Some of them are available on Frode's website, his Message Breaking Portal, and will also be available on Cryptologia. Two authentic Kriegsmarine M4 messages are
available, thanks to Stefan Krah's M4 message breaking
project. Another nice way to
test you codebreaking skills is the Enigma Cipher
I have downloaded a new version of your software, and now
Answer: Did you uninstall the previous version?
It's better to do so. Just go to the Configuration
screen, select Software and search for Enigma. Next, hit
the Add/Remove button. When the old version is gone,
install the new one.
I think there's a problem with the middle rotor.
Sometimes, it steps on two successive keystrokes. Answer: That's normal! This is the
famous Double Step, caused by the systems of pawls,
ratchets an notches. The pawls are engaged on each
keystroke, but only advance the next rotor if they can
fall into the previous rotor notch. This happens once in
26 steps. However, during this event, the pawl drops into
the notch, and not only grabs the next rotor ratchet, but
since the pawl is in the notch, it will also push the
notch rotor one step further. Of course, this only
appears with the middle rotor. The first, rightmost ,
rotor always steps, and the third doesn't use its notch.
How did you come up with the idea of writing an Enigma
Answer: I woke up one morning and decided to
make one. No, serious, I've been passionate about cipher
machines and cryptology since childhood, and the Enigma
machine is the most appealing example in history. I
couldn't find a realistic, graphically detailed sim on
the internet that provided authentic handling and machine
setup, so I wrote my own.
Why is it so hard to set up the Enigma simulator, opening
cover, changing rotors, plugs and so on? Answer: Because the Germans didn't have
computers, Windows or easy program menus. They only had
that electro-mechanical machine in a wooden box. You do
wanted a true Enigma simulation, did you not?
If I use the four rotor version, the fourth rotor doesn't
step. Is there a problem? Answer: No! The answer is quite simple.
The four rotor Enigma is derived from the three rotor
version. The only changes were a thin reflector and
fourth rotor, which took the same space as a normal wide
reflector, and a little window to view the fourth rotor.
That's all! They didn't adapt the rotor advance mechanism
or add a fourth pawl. They just believed this wasn't
important. The fourth rotor would only step once every
17,576 keystrokes. From the cryptanalysts point of view,
the fourth rotor increased the number of keys by 26, the
number of possible positions, set by hand.
What is the purpose of the Kenngruppen in Enigma
messages? Answer: They were used to tell the
receiving operator which key was used. More information
is found on my Enigma Procedures
Why does the Enigma Codebook Tool only produce 10 and not
13 plugs or Steckerverbindungen? Answer: The answer is simple. The
Germans only provided 10 cables with each machine, and a
few spare cables attached in the case cover.
How secure is my message, enciphered with Enigma, today? Answer: This depends on the situation.
If you have only one short message, say less than 50
letters, and you were to use that particular Enigma key
setting only once, this would be rather secure. Don't
forget that the number of possible keys on the Enigma
machine is astronomical! Running through all possible
keys would take a vast amount of time, even today.
However, longer messages, and more messages with the same
key would never stand against cryptanalytic attacks.
That's how Bletchley Park did it, even without today's
vast computer power. The CSG, Crypto Simulation Group, is
breaking at this moment a large number of original
authentic German messages. More info on Frode Weierud's website. Today, I strongly suggest never to use the
Enigma to protect critical information!
Did you work with an Enigma during the war? Answer: No! I'm not that old (thanks for
the compliment) and never served in the German Army, I'm
from Belgium. Neither was I employed in Bletchley Park,
I'm not that smart (see question about NSA).
I would like to write my own simulation. Can you help me? Answer: Yes! The source code to my
Enigma simulator is freely available at PSC in a zip file download. Note that, for security
reasons, the zip doesn't contain any exe file. It was
written in Visual Basic. If you don't have VB, you can
also open the Module1.bas file with a notepad
and examine the code. There are many comments included,
to explain the code. Drop me a mail when you have more
questions or would like to use my source code. Don't
forget to give the proper credits.
What 's your job? Answer: Earn money to feed wife and
children. Period (hell of a job, if you ask me).
I can't download and install the Enigma simulator? Answer: Well, it should work. Others
don't have problems. Did you read the readme file in the
zip? Be advised that the sim only works on Windows, and
some people have reported to me that my simulators also
works under Linux with WINE. You could try the
alternative download from my dropbox or the
sites from Frode Weierud or Tom Perera, but these are
previous versions. However, for the latest version, you
should download the sims from my website.
Do you get rich, writing cipher machine software?
Answer: Haha, No! There are several good
freeware simulators on the net, so why bother asking
money for it.
You must have put lots of time and effort into this
simulator. Answer: Don't ask my wife about it! The
detailed information about Enigma was collected over a
period of several years. Don't forget that information
about the Enigma was very scarce before people like David
Kahn, Frode Weierud or Cryptologia published their
work.The simulator itself took about a month to work
properly, but had a simple user interface. Two more
months were required to produce a graphical correct and
detailed machine, and to write a readable helpfile. Some
years went by before arriving at the - hopefully - final
version v7.0. This was only possible with the kind help
of people like Tom and Frode.
Do you have any other hobbies? Answer: Don't ask my wife about it!
Can I promote your site? Answer: Yes! Although there's no
financial benefit whatsoever, not for me and not for you.
I'm always happy when I can share my passion with others.
That's why I've created this site. You can send my
main-page link to your friends, or create a banner on
your webpage. More about the banner at the bottom of my Links page.
Where can I lean more about old rotor cipher machines? Answer: You can start by reading about
these wonderful machines on the rotor machines section of Wikipedia. Have you already checked out my
Converter or my Hagelin BC-52 ?
How can I make you happy? Answer: If you enjoyed my website, sign
my guestbook or read the
next question ;-)
I still have a question. What do I do now? Answer: Don't hesitate to mail me! Your
questions and feedback are most appreciated, even
original or funny ones!