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The Encryption game

"The Encryption Game" is out and its a barn burner and page turner.

​"The Encryption Game is another non-stop thrill ride from a master thriller writer. You can read it on its own or as the fourth addition to one of the best thriller series out there right now. It's a high altitude balloon flight that leaves you gasping for breath. It's a must read for any thriller fan. Enjoy and have a defibrillator close by because this one will stop your heart!" -- Richard Krevolin, Author of "Screenwriting in the Land of Oz," and "Screenwriting from the Soul"

A secret organization is plotting to steal a nuclear warhead from the United States, and only Dr. Scott James can stop them. But he will have to crack their codes. Every word is a cipher and every cipher a riddle. The CIA and NSA are powerless to stop the carnage. As the day of reckoning approaches, Scott James and his team will need a breakthrough, and it comes in the most unlikeliest of places, and leads to the good doctor's most dangerous adventure yet.

There are echoes in the book of the ENIGMA from WWII.

Near the end of World War One, a desperate message was sent by the German Army, one that would have far-reaching consequences. The encrypted message asked for a rush delivery of munitions to a point fifty miles north of Paris, between Montdidier and Compiegne. A Frenchman, Georges Painvin, decrypted the request, which pinpointed the exact location of the German Army as it was massing for an attack. With that information in hand, the Allies fortified the area and were able to defeat the Germans, bringing a quick end to the war.

That event had quite an effect on the German psyche. After World War One ended, a German by the name of Arthur Scherbius invented a fearsome encryption device that would forever after replace pencil and paper cyphers—The Enigma Machine. Here was a crude typewriter that could perform hundreds of complex letter substitutions and changes within minutes.

By 1926 the Americans and French were acutely aware of this new contraption, but were complacent about dealing with its implications because they suffered from a condition that makes complacency all too easy: They had been victorious in the previous war. Besides, they and others were convinced that Enigma had no weaknesses, and that the decryption of messages from the device was impossible.

During the 1930s, a German businessman, Hans-Thilo Schmidt, took a job in an office responsible for managing Germany's decryptions on the Enigma Machine. Schmidt blamed the government for the recent loss of his business and his fortune, and decided to exact his revenge by selling the instructions of how to operate the device. Schmidt went so far as to supply an encryption key—a solution to the cyphers—to a French agent for $30,000. On several occasions afterword, Schmidt gave French Intelligence codebooks that revealed at least the basics of how the Enigma worked.

Continuing the research into Enigma, an agreement between the French and Polish government gave Polish mathematicians access to the Enigma codebooks. These encrypted messages contained a daily change that was noted by using the “day-key,” which Schmidt continued to supply. One of the Polish researchers, Marian Rejewski, made valuable observations in the operations of the Enigma, notably that the day-key was used only for one 24-hour period. On the next day, it was changed. With Schmidt's supply each month of the day-keys, Rejewski was able to decode German messages. This ended in December 1938, however, when Germany added two extra scramblers to the machine, making the code vastly more complex. This new addition to the equation, coupled with Schmidt's ultimate failure to deliver the monthly codebooks, halted Rejewski's ability to decode Germany's messages.

In August of 1938, the British established the Government Code and Decipher School at an unused mansion in Bletchley Park, in the English countryside. The Polish government provided the new school with their understanding of the Enigma machine, along with the discouraging remark that the machine’s current operation rendered the German messages “undecipherable.”

Later that year, a mathematician named Alan Turin, hired by the English, took up where Rejewski left off. Despite the high level of difficulty, Turin was able to devise machine components that were able to interpret several German messages. Later, American and British spies intercepted other codebooks, which greatly assisted the code breakers.

There were other problems, though. For example, the code breakers working on messages sent by the German Navy’s Enigmas had the most difficult time solving messages because the machines used eight scramblers rather than five. Here, fantastic feats of espionage also played a role. Even Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, who was also a member of British Naval Intelligence, tried his hand. Fleming devised a secret plan to crash land captured Heinkel bombers, filled with Brits, in German waters. When the German rescue ships came to assist, the hidden soldiers would come out and capture the code books aboard those vessels. Fleming's specific plan wasn't successful, but many British raids on ships and U-boats were successful in capturing Enigma codebooks, giving the Allies a distinctive advantage.

Whether or not the Allies could have won World War II without the brilliance of Alan Turin and his cracking of the Enigma codes is speculative, but it is certain that many lives were saved by his contributions and those of many others. At the end of the day, the greatest weakness of the Enigma was that certain letters had to be repeated in the messages. This repetition weakness is an important theme in the fourth book of The Dr. Scott James Thriller Series, The Encryption Game. Hope you enjoy it.


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