AI cracks Enigma Code ‘in record time’, beats 53bn password combinations in 13 minutes
DigitalOcean’s powerful Droplets (cloud servers) have been used by artificial intelligence (AI) experts, Enigma Pattern, to break the infamous Enigma code originally deciphered by the team at Bletchley Park in the 1940s in a live demonstration.
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 (€11.31).
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.
The output of this bombe was connected to the artificial intelligence system, so if the simulator, testing all the possible password combinations, was sending something resembling the German language, the artificial intelligence signaled it as a properly decoded message.
Lukasz said: “Enigma code is a complex system and decoding the message takes time as does checking to tell if the decrypted message is German. When you have billions of possible passwords to try, it all adds up to days. If we had used the power of only one machine, it would have taken 2 weeks to go through all of the possible combinations.”
Enigma Pattern realised that they needed to shrink the time taken to decode the message and they turned to DigitalOcean, a cloud services platform designed for developers and businesses to build, scale and automate their infrastructure.
Lukasz added: “There are a few cloud services providers that let you hire machines immediately and for the time you need, be that one hour, several days or longer-term. One of these is DigitalOcean, who we contacted and asked if we could spin our project on 2000 of their virtual servers. They gave us the green light, we prepared a parallel version of our bombe, and it worked!”
At the event in central London, by using DigitalOcean’s virtual servers, the entire Enigma machine decryption was finished in just 13 minutes, with 41 million combinations tested per second.
Alex Jaimes, head of Research and Development at DigitalOcean said: “Things have moved on massively since the original Enigma machine was decrypted, but the fascinating element to Enigma Pattern’s work is how they’ve used the power of AI and cloud computing to give a glimpse into the future of everyday computing. The simplicity and computational power of our platform makes DO the perfect partner for AI projects that require scale, speed, and execution at remarkably low costs.”
For the full technical specifications of the ‘Breaking the Enigma Code’ project, click here.