[Cryptography] Brute force circa 1939

Henry Baker hbaker1 at pipeline.com
Wed Nov 14 09:17:30 EST 2018

At 05:24 PM 11/13/2018, Grant Schultz wrote:
>On 11/13/2018 11:00 AM, Henry Baker wrote (quoting the movie):
>> "This machine offers a variation of 2372 entirely original codes -- 2371 chances of being wrong -- even if he had a machine to work with."
>I would bet it was Hollywood that was naive here.
>William Friedman or many others in Washington D.C. would have known that 2371 possibilities was far too few to withstand cryptanalysis.
>(Although it would be interesting if there were evidence that Washington folk insisted that Hollywood use that low number.
>Any way to find out?)
>Grant Schultz

If anyone is interested, the movie "Espionage Agent" appeared on the TCM channel, and so I would guess it will show up again in a few months.

If you watch this movie -- or even Google it -- it clearly has an agenda.  The main theme of this agenda is that the U.S. Govt isn't taking counterespionage seriously.  Now it's 1939; who do you think might have this particular agenda?  Who in the govt has spent twenty years scaring the pants off the populace in order to increase his power?  None other than J Edgar Hoover, who spent a lot of time working with Hollywood to raise the awareness of the FBI and all the great things it was doing to combat crime. [0]

After WWII, however, when Hollywood lovingly embraced the US's new Soviet ally, Hoover reverted back to his old post-WWI Red Scare tactics, and some parts of Hollywood became the enemy.

If you believe other Hollywood movies, the Battle of Midway (6/7/1942) was won by US codebreakers who broke the Japanese codes; the Chicago Tribune then published an article in June 1942 saying as much!  Apparently, this article convinced the Brits that the US couldn't be trusted to keep code secrets.

[0] http://support.nleomf.org/hoover/hoover.html

"Hoover understood the value of star power.  As an FBI Director with a prowess for public relations, he used Hollywood connections in order to boost the Bureau's profile and limit what he saw as Hollywood's tendency to glorify or romanticize criminals.  Through the media, he hoped to promote a spotless image of the FBI and promote law enforcement officers as heroes and role models."

"Combined with his unprecedented power and role in law enforcement, Hoover's attention to the media made him popular in many Hollywood circles."

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