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Latest news
This page contains the latest news regarding the subjects on the Crypto Museum website. Important developments and crypto-related news will be reported here. We also send out Twitter notifications every now and then. Click the Twitter icon at the top of the page to read our tweets.

Older news can be read by using the blue buttons on the left or the grey buttons at the top.

HistoCrypt 2022
20-22 June 2022, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
The International Conference on Historical Cryptology 2022 will be held in Amsterdam (Nether­lands) towards the end of June. This three day event is open to anyone, and touches a plethora of subjects related to cryptology and its history. One of the key speakers on the first day will be Maarten Oberman, who has rewritten the post-WWII cryptographic history of The Netherlands.

On the second day, Crypto Museum's Paul Reuvers and Marc Simons will give a detailed account on Operation RUBICON — a covert operation of the American CIA and the German BND in which they secretly purchased a large crypto-manufacturer in neutral Switserland – Crypto AG (Hagelin) – and used it to read the diplomatic traffic of more than 130 countries until 2018.

On the third day, key speaker Gerhard Strasser will take us back several centuries to show how sign language and other forms of non-verbal communication were once used for passing secret messages. In addition there will be sessions on cipher machines, historical documents, machine learning, tools, resources and more.

Registration is open until 12 June 2022.

 Check out the program
 HistoCrypt 2022 website

Minifon, Der Spion in der Tasche
10 April 2022

Roland Schellin has just published a new book about the Minifon covert wire and tape recorders of the 1950s and 60s. This book is a complete rewrite of his earlier book of 2001 with the same title, and contains lots of new information and high-quality colour images. A must-have for collectors and everyone who is interested in the early history of covert recording devices.

 More information
  
Click to see more

FBI releases file about the Great Seal Bug
16 March 2022

In 2015 we published the most complete tear down of the Great Seal Bug, a.k.a. The Thing — a covert listening device that was developed by the Russians and planted in the study of the US Ambassador in Moscow. It was used to eavesdrop on the Ambassador for more than 7 years.

At the time, we used partly declassified reports and correspondense of the FBI, and undisclosed files from the CIA, and combined it to make a best educated guess on how the bug might have worked. At the time, the full technical report of the FBI about the device was still classified.

Apparently, our efforts have payed off, as the FBI has finally decided to disclose their full technical report, including photographs and technical drawings of the device. We have updated our page about this passive bug accordingly.
  
Click to see more

The release of the report also puts and end to the discussion about the frequency on which the device worked, and whether or not the activation signal used the same frequency as the signal that was (re)transmitted by the device. It appears that we were right all along 😊.

 Read the full story
 Read the full FBI report

NSA algorithm for the PX-1000Cr broken
16 February 2022

In 1983, a small Dutch company by the name of Text Lite introduced the PX-1000 — a small pocket computer with built-in modem that was able to send DES encrypted texts through an analog telephone line. The device was dubbed Pocket Telex, and was also sold by Philips.

In April 2019 we revealed that in 1984, the NSA persuaded Philips to buy the entire stock from Text Lite and replace DES by an alternative encryption algorithm that was supplied by the NSA. At the time we assumed, of course, that the NSA algorithm was weaker than DES, but we were never able to prove that. Until now.

Yesterday, computer scientist Stefan Marsiske published a lengthy article in which he shows how he can break any message created on the PX-1000Cr in less than 4 seconds on a laptop, with no more than 17 characters of ciphertext.
  
Original PX-1000 made in 1983

For his break, he used the description of the algorithm published by Crypto Museum in January 2016, in combination with a disassembly of the code he made with IDA Pro. After creating a functional replica of the algorithm in C, he was able to use a number of of-the-shelf software frameworks to solve the problem. This proves that the algorithm is (much) weaker than DES.

 Read the full article
 About the PX-1000

Rudi Staritz dies at 99
24 July 2021

We have just received the sad new that this afternoon Rudolf Staritz has died at the age of 99. Rudi was the last surviving eyewitness who worked on and with the German spy radio sets of World War II. In the 1970s and 80s he published a large number of articles on this subject.

With his bright mind and sparkling personality he was a tree of knowledge for many radio HAMs, collectors, researchers and museums, ourselves included. In November 2019 he was the Guest of Honour during our exhibition Secret Communications 3. He will be missed dearly.
  

Machines rediscovered at the NCM
2 July 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept many of us at home for the past year or so, whilst all public activities were cancelled. But it also has a positive side. Whilst the National Cryptologic Museum (NCM) — the NSA's museum at Fort Meade (USA) — was closed to the public and plans for a new building were put on ice, it was decided to take the opportunity to renovate the existing building.

The renovation works are currently underway, whilst the curators and registrars are combing through the entire collection to see if any objects require maintenance or special attention. And their efforts have already payed off. Last month, the museum registrar rediscovered two machines that had not been spotted before or that had been forgotten, probably because no information was available about them when they were acquired.

The image on the right shows an extremely rare Russian K-37 cipher machine – probably the only surviving one – that was rediscovered last month.
  
Russian K-37 cipher machine in the collection of the NCM

The machine had probably been captured during World War II, and was used by the AFSA – the forerunner of the NSA – for analysis and codebreaking. The K-37 was a copy of the Hagelin B-211 and was adapted for the Cyrillic alphabet. It is shown here with the external plugboard in a wooden box attached to it. This is the first time a colour photograph of this machine is made public. Interestingly, the black & white photograph of a K-37 that was shown in Boris Hagelin's memoirs — the only existing photograph of a K-37 until now — was made of this very machine.

In addition to the K-37, the people at the NCM also found a complete and intact OMI Criptograph, an Italian cipher machine that was made around 1954 and that was based on the design of the German Enigma. It was believed that none of the original machines had survived and all that was left was a black & white photograph in a 1954 NSA report that was declassified in May 2014.

 Russian K-37 cipher machine
 OMI Criptograph

The final curtain?
14 June 2021

It a sad picture. The once so big and famous Swiss company Crypto AG — once the pride of the Swedish inventor Boris Hagelin, and succeeded in 2018 by Swedish entrepreneurs Andreas and Emma Linde under the name Crypto International AG — has dimissed nearly all of its staff and has moved its legal seat to the nearby town of Hünenberg. It seems that the curtain is falling.

Following the revelations of the American, German and Swiss media — the Washington Post, ZDF and SRF — in February 2020, that Crypto AG was owned from 1970 onwards b the German BND and the American CIA, and from 1994 onwards solely by the CIA, the Swiss Parliament ordered an official investigation.

As fall-out of the news, the Swiss Government withdrew the export licence of the company, and Linde was left no other choice than to layoff the entire workforce in July of last year. Alledgedly they filed for bankruptcy the following month.
  
1 April 2021 - the CRYPTO logo is removed from the building in Steinhausen. © Copyright Patrick Hürlimann Fotografie [17].

With only two remaining staff members, the company left the buildings in Steinhausen early this year and moved its legal seat to nearby Hünenberg. A few months ago, on 1 April, professional photographer Patrick Hürlimann of Steinhausen took the photograph shown above. The buildings are now abandonned and will soon be taken down to make room for hausing development.

 Read the full story

C-52 and CX-52 uncovered
24 February 2021

After more than two years of researching the wide variety of Hagelin C-52 and CX-52 cipher machines in collections, museums and auctions, Bart Wessel has just published his long awaited technical paper on these unique machines.

He explains the many types, models, versions, variants and other differences, and gives a detailed account of how they work.

 Download the paper
 About the CX-52
  
CX-52 parts

SG-41 uncovered
6 February 2021

At last a detailed technical description of the operating principle of Schlüsselgerät-41, also known as SG-41 or Hitlermühle (Hitler Mill), is now available in a paper by Klaus Kopacz and Paul Reuvers.

 Download the SG-41 paper
 Visit our publications page
 Visit the SG-41 page

  
SG-41 in 'folded' condition

ICCH website goes live
5 February 2021

The International Conference on Cryptologic History (ICCH) is a forum for the discussion of cryptologic history. Established in 2004 as 'Crypto Collectors', the group includes members located in many countries around the world. ICCH holds events - both online and in-person – and has an e-mail list for general discussion. As of today, the ICCH has an official website.

 Visit the ICCH website

  
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Fialka Manual free of charge
6 January 2021

To provide a little bit of comfort in these difficult COVID-19 times, we have decided to make the Fialka Reference Manual available free of charge.

This manual, that was first released in 2005, contains detailed information and drawings of the Russian M-125 (Fialka) cipher machine. It used to be available in printed form for EUR 55 from our museum shop, but is now totally free. However, if you appreciate our work, you might want to consider making a small donation.

 Download the manual

  
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Objects from Museum Jan Corver for sale
14 December 2020

After 25 years, Museum Jan Corver, the HAM radio museum of The Netherlands, is closing its doors, due to the high age of the owner and the lack of a successor. For the core collection, the museum foundation is still looking for a successor. All items related to espionage have been handed over to Crypto Museum.

The remaining objects – thousands of radio-related items – have been handed over to Stichting Onterfd Goed in Eind­hoven (Netherlands), where they are now for sale.

 Onterfd Goed website
  
Photograph

Professor Oberman
14 December 2020

Currently in preparation is a paper about the Dutch Professor Oberman and his crypto-related work during the years 1946-1965, which will be presented at the forthcoming HistoCrypt Conference, that will be held in The Netherlands in September 2021 (subject to Corona crisis developments).

People who have background information or (better) documentation about Professor Oberman's crypto-related work, or who have worked with him in the past on the subject, are kindly invited to contact us. Also, if you have a specific question about Professor Oberman's crypto-related work, that could assist the research, we would like to hear from you.

 About Professor Oberman
 Contact us
  
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Swiss neutrality
26 November 2020

Following the revelation of Operation Rubicon in February of this year, and the subsequent Swiss parliametary investigation that published its results earlier this month, the Swiss television program Rundschau now reveals that another Swiss manufacturer of high-end crypto gear, Omnisec AG, was also in the pocket of the CIA.

 Read the full story
  
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The International Cryptology Game
25 October 2020

Great news from Poland. The next edition of the CODEBREAKERS International Cryptology Game is about to start. The game is dedicated to Polish mathematicians who broke the code of the well-known German Enigma cipher machine, which is now 88 years ago. The secret work of the Polish mathematicians contributed considerably to the success and victory of the Allies during WWII.

The game will be released in six languages — English, French, Spanish, German, Polish and Russian — and combines elements of history, mathematics and logic in an accessible way. By learning about encryption and decryption methods, the participants solve virtual puzzles and break increasingly difficult secret messages.

It is worth noting that everyone can enter the game, as long as they can read. There are three levels of difficulty: TRIAL, BASIC, ADVENTURE. Prior knowlege about breaking ciphers is not required. Depending on the level of difficulty, each team may consists of 1, 2 or 3 people.

Sign up now:
 https://thecodebreakers.org/page/info
  

Crypto International AG files for bankruptcy
27 August 2020

Following the news of early last month (see below), that Crypto International AG — the successor to Crypto AG — was about to dismiss most of its workforce, the Swiss newspaper NZZ has just announced that the company has filed for bankruptcy.

The activities will be taken over by the Swedish company Asperiq Group AB, which is also owned by Andreas and Emma Linde. A few weeks ago, on 7 August, the Linde family also registered a new company by the name of Asperiq AG with the Swiss chamber of commerce.

 Read the NZZ article
  

Mass layoffs at Crypto International AG
4 July 2020

According to the Swiss newspaper Neue Züricher Zeitung (NZZ), Crypto International AG (CIAG), announced yesterday that it will lay off 83 of its 85 staff, which is nearly the entire work­force. CIAG was established two years ago by Swedish entrepreneurs Emma and Andreas Linde, when they purchased part of the product portfolio of the former Crypto AG (Hagelin).
  

In February, journalists from the Washington Post, German televion ZDF and Swiss television SRF, had revealed that for many years, the equipment from Crypto AG has been manipulated by BND and CIA, under the name Operation RUBICON. Following these revelations, the Swiss Government has withdrown the export licence of CIAG and has announced a formal criminal investigation.

 Read the NZZ article

Maximator: European five-eyes revealed
7 April 2020

In an article in Intelligence and National Security, Dutch Professor of computer security Bart Jacobs reveals the existence of a secret signals intelligence partnership that can be seen as the European equivalent of the UKUSA Five Eyes. The partnership — known as MAXIMATOR — started in the late 1970s and comprises Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and France. It is believed that it is still active today.

 Full article
 Argos Radio (Dutch)
 About MAXIMATOR
  
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Operation RUBICON
19 March 2020

The full story of Operation RUBICON — the secret purchase of Crypto AG (Hagelin) by the American CIA and the German BND — is now available on the Crypto Museum website.

 Read the full story
 In the media
  
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Philips helped the CIA to spy on Türkiye
20 February 2020

Today, the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, revealed how Philips created a superchip to eavesdrop on the diplomatic traffic of many countries, including Türkiye. This was done by supplying these countries with a rigged version of the Aroflex cipher machine.

 Volkskrant website
 More about Aroflex
  
Philips Aroflex

The intelligence coup of the century
11 February 2020

For many years it has been speculated that the cipher machines of Crypto AG (Hagelin) have exploitable weaknesses (backdoors) that can be used by Western intelligence services to break encrypted messages. From the Friedman Collection we already knew that a secret unwritten Gentleman's Agreement existed between Hagelin and the American NSA from 1951 onwards.

But the actual story is almost unimaginable. Investigative journalists of the German TV station ZDF, and the American newspaper Washington Post, have now discovered that in 1970, Crypto AG was secretly purchased by the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a covert operation named RUBICON. For several decades it enabled NSA – and its German sister ZfCh - to read nearly all diplomatic traffic of the countries that were on the CIA/NSA target list.

 Learn more
  
Click to see more

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, several news media will report about Operation RUBICON, starting tonight with the German ZDF television program Frontal-21, And tomorrow morning, the US newspaper The Washington Post will give a detailed account of the operation. Crypto Museum will provide detailed technical backgrounds at a later moment. Coming soon...

Enigma. We have got news.
6 December 2019

It is widely known that the Poles were the first to break the Enigma cipher, and that – just before the outbreak of WWII – they shared their know­ledge with French and British intelligence, during a secret meeting in Pyry (Poland). However, the exact details of the Pyry meeting have so far never been found in French or British archives.

In this video, Polish writer Marek Grajek presents new facts about the breaking of Enigma, based on files disclosed by French intelligence in 2016, and comments on it together with Sir Dermot Turing and Prof. Philippe Guillot.

 Watch the video (English subtitles)
 Same video with French subtitles
  
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Secret Communications 3
4 June 2019

Following the success of our earlier exhibitions in 2013 and 2016, Crypto Museum has once again teamed up with Athur Bauer's Foundation for German Communication in Duivendrecht (Netherlands) for an exhibition that will open in November of this year.

 More information
  
Resonant cavity microphone for 360 MHz

NSA intervention in The Netherlands
20 April 2019

The Dutch investigative radio program Argos will today reveal how the NSA changed the algorithm of an existing consumer encryption device, with help from multinational electronics giant Philips.

The story, which dates back to 1983, involves a pocket computer with built-in DES encryption, and even Nelson Mandela. Discover how the PX-1000 – developed by Text Lite and marketed as a pocket telex – was weakened to give the NSA an advantage over other agencies.

 Replay the broadcast
 About the PX-1000
  
Original PX-1000 made in 1983

KGB Spy Museum opens in New York City
17 January 2019

Today, the exciting new KGB Spy Museum in Manhattan (New York) opens its doors to the press. Over the past few months Lithuanian collector Julius Urbaitis and his daughter Agne have been working hard to bring an interesting and diverse collection of Cold War Spy gadgets together in their new 4000 square-feet museum at 245 West 14th Street in New York.

The museum will be dedicated to the history of the KGB and its far-reaching operations over the years. There are many artifacts, including spy cameras, spy radios, concealment devices, cipher machines, etc.

 More about the museum
 KGB Spy Museum website
  
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 News in 2018

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