Secret to Breaking Enemy Codes

Article excerpt

Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The scientific craft of making and breaking codes has been helping countries around the world protect vital secrets and transmissions from its enemies since the days of Julius Caesar.

In the United States, cryptologists work at the National Security Agency and Central Security Service, playing a vital role in the nation's protection. They even may have changed the course of history during wartime, thanks to their painstakingly detailed abilities.

The organizations have put together a Web site catering to the child enamored with keeping secrets and learning about the people and techniques used in the encrypting and decrypting of information.

NSA/CSS Kids and Youth Page

Site address: www.nsa.gov/kids/intro.htm

Creator: The Web site was designed and developed by an employee at the National Security Agency at Fort George G. Meade, Md., whose background is in graphic and Web design and development.

Creator quotable: "We created this site to introduce youth of all ages to the world of cryptology in a fun, interactive, contemporary and (most important) educational way. The NSA Kids site isn't just about reading page after page of historical information and looking at pictures. It's an experience where children get to be the code makers and code breakers. And some of the secret messages are tough to decrypt," says Jane Hudgins, public and media liaison at NSA.

Word from the Webwise: Hosted by Crypto Cat, a cool blue feline dressed in an overcoat and hat, the site offers little in animation, narration, video clips or online games but uses simple designs, links to the NSA/CSS main site and plenty of printable pages to explore the world of cryptology.

Of the 10 sections available, the ones most worthy of an extended investigation include NSA/CSS History Timeline, Codes & Ciphers, Games & Puzzles and Coloring Book.

Of these, junior historians will love the NSA/CSS History Timeline, which features events, people, places and technology in cryptologic history. Visitors will learn about folks such as Agnes Meyer Driscoll, who worked as a Navy cryptanalyst and broke Japanese naval codes in World War II, and encryption units such as the Army's Sigaba, which was the only machine system used during World War II to remain completely unbroken by an enemy. …