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Sssshh! Museum reveals cryptic messages

The United States navy used an encryption machine called Sigfoi

(Keystone)

The Swiss Museum of Transport and Communication has unveiled secrets to the world of cryptology.

The special exhibition at the Lucerne museum, which runs until the end of the year, is titled, "Only for you - the art of encryption".

As the exhibition points out, every credit card owner or Internet user - whether they are conscious of the fact or not - are increasingly affected by information security.

About 40 original cipher machines are on display in the exhibition, and some of them - as the exhibition organisers point out - were until recently classified as top secret.

Wiretapping and hacking

They help visitors follow the history and development of encryption, beginning with the first evidence of writing from Mesopotamia about 5,000 years ago, passing through the World Wars and Cold War of the 20th century and ending with interactive stations which reveal how easy it is to wiretap phones or become an Internet hacker.

In fact, part of the emphasis of the exhibition is to show how insecure electronic communication really is.

The CIA has made no secret of the fact that the United States is gathering systematically every single bit of electronic information in the world.

Switzerland is doing its best to keep up with the times, and is taking part in an electronic surveillance programme, which will enable the police and secret service to read faxes, emails, and listen in to telephone conversations.

The museum created the special exhibition in cooperation with the private Swiss information security company, Crypto AG.

swissinfo

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