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January 23, 2012
There are code busters and then there is Arne Beurling who with pen and paper performed magic.
He had no special software.
No hacker's manuals available to peruse.
The government contractor’s employee who worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and recently stole the U.S. Treasury Department software code used to track federal collections and payments?
Well, at least compared to Arne, a Swedish professor of mathematics, who in the summer of 1940 broke the German code used for strategic military communications.
Using only one teleprinter tape and cipher text, a pen and paper, he created nearly one quintillion different variations in order to decipher the code the Germans thought impossible to crack.
A feat that took Beurling just two weeks.
Using Beurling's work, a device was created that enabled Sweden to decipher German teleprinter traffic passing through Sweden from Norway on a cable.
Based on his analysis, the allies knew about Operation Barbarossa, the code name for Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, before it happened.
When Beurling was asked how he managed one of the greatest achievements in the history of cryptography, he replied, “A magician does not reveal his secrets.”