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Codes, Ciphers &. Produced in conjunction with Tom Briggs, Education and Outreach Officer at Bletchley Park. Watch the following clip. A Series of Unfortunate Events.

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codes ciphers

Codes, Ciphers &

Produced in conjunction with Tom Briggs, Education and Outreach Officer at Bletchley Park.

watch the following clip
Watch the following clip...
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  • In this clip, Klaus uses the approximate thickness of his relative’s arm and the shading on the snake to send a message to him about the evil Count Olaf who is disguised as Gustav.
hiding information
Hiding information…

… is nothing new.

In the 3rd Century BCE the Ancient Greeks used…

… to send secret messages during military campaigns.


you have a go
You have a go...
  • Use the strip of paper to come up with your own scytale code for your partner to solve.
  • You could wrap it around your arm, a pencil or a glue stick.
in the 1 st century bce
In the 1st Century BCE…

… Julius Caesar used a system of shifting the alphabet three spaces to the left to hide messages to his armies.

We call this a Ceasar Shift Cipher.

who can solve this first
Who can solve this first?


Caesar Rules


caesar s cipher
Caesar’s cipher…

… has been used as the basis for many more complicated ciphers.

This Vigenere grid contains every possible Caesar shift, and uses a keyword to switch between them when encrypting information.

key solve
Key: ‘solve’

The key is ‘solve’

What command is given in the following message?





… has been a driving force for creating more complicated codes and ciphers throughout history.

codes ciphers1
Codes & ciphers…

… were used during World War I.

With mostly static warfare, the codes were fairly simple 2 or 3 letter groups given meanings in codebooks.

Ciphers used include Playfair and complicated versions of Vigenere, but were still produced by hand.

more mobile warfare
More mobile warfare…

… in World War II, and the use of radio rather than fixed telephone cables meant that ciphers had to get more complicated.

In 1918 Arthur Scherbius applied for a patent for a rotor-based cipher machine.

the enigma family
The Enigma family…

… of Cipher machines was born in 1923, and used commercially at first.

In 1926 the German Navy began to use Enigma machines.

The rest of the German military soon followed.

using machines
Using machines…

… allowed ciphers to become much more complicated.

There are 25 different usable Caesar shifts, compared to…

… nearly 159,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible key settings for a standard Army Enigma machine.

in 1939
In 1939…

… the British Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) began to move to Bletchley Park (now near Milton Keynes).

Their mission was to decipher intercepted messages so that intelligence could be gathered, giving the Allied forces the edge in World War II.

in 1941
In 1941…

… the Nazis added another cipher machine to their arsenal.

The Lorenz Cipher Attachment was used for high-level communications.

machine ciphers
Machine ciphers…

… were hard to crack, so the Codebreakers invented new machines themselves.

the bombe
The Bombe…

… was designed by Alan Turing in 1939, and refined by Gordon Welchman in 1940.

It was an electromechanical machine designed to speed up the process of discovering settings used by Enigma operators.

By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


… started work in 1944.

It was designed by Tommy Flowers to help find key settings for deciphering Lorenz enciphered messages…

… and was the world’s first programmable computer!


… have made it much easier to crack codes and solve ciphers…

… so encryption has had to get much more complicated…

… and the race is on to develop ever cleverer ways of hiding and revealing information!

look at the infographic
Look at the Infographic...

How does this link to

what we’ve just learnt?

over to you
Over to you
  • Your teacher will distribute codes for you to attempt to crack in your groups.
  • Good luck!
comedy codes
Comedy Codes?
  • Read the sheet and attempt to crack the code.