Friday, June 26, 2009

The National Cryptologic Museum

I finally got a chance to visit the National Cryptologic Museum yesterday, on the way back to BWI to fly home after SANSFIRE and a few day's family vacation (including 2 Red Sox games at National's Park).

The museum was a real treat, far exceeding my expectations. The had all the classic crypto gear, including a set of Jefferson Disks, an original Confederate cipher disk, multiple Japanese Red, Jade, and Purple machines/analogues, American Sigaba, an original Hebern Machine and multiple Enigma Machines. I really enjoyed the VENONA exhibit.

A really nice touch were the 2 fully-functional Enigma Machines, freed of their cases, with pencil and paper next to each, with instructions on how to encode and decode a message.

With the wheels set to '414' (in honor of SANS Management 414), 'CISSP' encodes to 'DCNXK'. As you click each typewriter key, the wheels turn, and the ciphertext letter illuminates. To decode, turn the wheels back to '414', type 'DCNXK', and 'CISSP' illuminates.

I was also impressed with how kid-friendly the museum was. The kids were handed the pictured cipher disk, and a 'Cryptokids Challenge' score sheet, which included 14 numbered stations. As the kids reached each station, they were presented with a cipher disk setting, and ciphertext to convert back into plaintext. They both successfully decoded all 14 ciphertexts, and were presented with prizes for their handiwork.

The kids had a blast, and both declared the Cryptologic Museum 'the best museum in the DC area, tied with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.' High praise from my young cryptanalysts!!


JazzeyJ said...
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JazzeyJ said...

i would have loved to have been there its sounds like a neat experience.