The Gentleman Hacker of 1903

Friday, January 13, 2012


Hackers frequently release insecure information to demonstrate the vulnerability of new technologies. It's a novel approach, but certainly not new. Bob talks to New Scientist's Paul Marks, who tells the story of Nevil Maskelyne, and magician and inventor who, in the interest of exposing the technology's insecurity, hacked Guglielmo Marconi's first demonstration of the wireless telegraph.

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Comments [2]

Paul Marks from London

Reply to Jonathan - Sure. I am aware of the Polish Enigma codebreaking innovations from Marian Rejewski and his team and I did mention it in the interview - but there clearly wasn't broadcast time for it to be included. That's showbiz...

Feb. 07 2012 06:41 AM
Jonathan Margolis from Brookline, MA

Paul Marks states that the Enigma machine used by the Germans to encode messages during WWII was duplicated through the efforts of mathematicians. The machine itself was reconstructed by the Polish intelligence service before the war began. In an act of surprising generosity in international relations--and recognizing that their nation was likely to be overrun by Germany--the Poles agreed to turn over examples of the machine to Britain and France in the event of war. Having the Enigma machine was only the beginning of the code-breaking process, however, because the Enigma could produce billions of code combinations. It was that process that mainly British mathematicians--and many individuals from other disciplines--pursued successfully. However, the Polish contribution to the breaking of German codes should not be overlooked.

Jan. 14 2012 01:46 PM

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