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Enigma machine coming to Abertay

9 September 2015

One of the famous Enigma machines that was used by the Germans to encode secret radio messages during World War Two is coming to Abertay University this September.

It will be the centrepiece of a talk given by Dr Mark Baldwin - an expert on Enigma machines and the code-breaking work that was carried out at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

The Germans used Enigma machines to encrypt their messages and prevent their adversaries from reading the content of their communications.

The machines were portable, easy to use and could be set up in a myriad of different ways, meaning it was almost impossible for a human to crack the code.

However, the mathematician Alan Turing – whose work was brought to life in the recent film ‘The Imitation Game’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch – built a machine that was able to do this and helped bring an end to the Second World War.

Dr Baldwin will bring along the actual Enigma machine that was used in the film and, in his talk, will explain how it works – demonstrating how the code is generated and highlighting the vital role that maths and technology played in WWII.

The event will take place on Wednesday 30 September at 6pm in the Main Lecture Theatre and has been organised by BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT.

Dr Natalie Coull – Lecturer in Ethical Hacking at Abertay University and Chair of the local branch of the BCS – explains the link with the codebreakers of the past and the ethical hackers of today:

“This’ll be a fascinating talk. Anyone who’s seen The Imitation Game will be familiar with the Enigma machines and their role in encrypting messages, but it’ll be something else to see one in real life.

“During the Second World War, the UK government employed a great number of scientists and mathematicians at Bletchley Park who specialised in codebreaking to try and crack the encrypted messages that the Enigma machines generated.

“These experts – including Alan Turing – devised techniques and built machines that enabled them to decipher many of the Germans’ communications and helped save potentially millions of lives. In fact, it is generally reckoned that the intelligence from Enigma shortened the war by about two years.

“As long as people attempt to encrypt messages, others will attempt to break that encryption. The work of the Second World War codebreakers was a precursor to modern day hackers, whose goal is to circumvent a range of security defences to gain access to data or systems.

“Nowadays, ethical hackers are typically employed to test the security of a system against attacks from malicious hackers. These ethical hackers look for weaknesses in the system that could be exploited, which is precisely what happened at Bletchley Park when Turing and his peers identified patterns in the use of the Enigma machines which enabled them to crack the code.”

The event has been organised by BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT. It is free and open to members of the public, but spaces are limited so please book online.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E

Notes to Editors:

About Dr Mark Baldwin

A Cambridge University engineering graduate, Mark Baldwin worked initially in civil engineering, before obtaining a Master's degree in soil mechanics from Imperial College London.

After 15 years' lecturing at Imperial, he moved to Shropshire in 1986 to develop the book-selling and publishing business that he and his wife had established as a part-time venture in 1978. The book shop specialised in WWII intelligence and codebreaking, and he and his wife have published eight books on this subject.

For nearly twenty years, Dr Baldwin has spoken widely both in the UK and abroad on various aspects of WWII intelligence, focussing particularly on Enigma and Bletchley Park.

Enlivened by the use of his own Enigma machine, his presentations are always warmly received.

He was commissioned to supply a U-Boat Enigma machine for the film 'The Imitation Game'.

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