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Scale of the object compared with an adult hand.

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About this object

Enigma cipher machines were designed to create complex encrypted messages that were almost impossible to break.

Before and during the Second World War, Germany and its allies were using Enigma machines on the battlefield, at sea, in the sky and within its secret services, to send military messages.

The Germans considered these machines to be unbreakable, but, mathematicians in Poland, France and the UK developed advanced techniques that broke the Enigma cipher, helping to shorten the war.

Take this further: why not use an online Enigma cipher machine simulator to learn more about how this machine works?

Data security today

Today mathematics is at the heart of keeping all of our electronic data secure and stopping attempts to hack it.

Cyber security is a continual race to develop new and better ways to protect information as hackers’ methods to discover information get more sophisticated, and the computers they use to attack information get quicker.

Discussion questions

  1. What information do you think it is important to try and keep secure? Do you have any ways of keeping information secret like a locked diary, password protected document or code words?
  2. When the Allies deciphered an Engima message, they sometimes chose not to use the information or share it. Why do you think this is?
  3. If you wanted to write a note to a friend so that only the two of you would understand it, how could you encrypt it?