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The Female Code Breakers Who Helped Defeat the Nazis

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At Arlington Hall in Virginia, a secret African-American unitmostly female, and unknown to many white workerstackled commercial codes.

The U.S. Army and Navy enlisted more than 10,000 female "cryptoanalysts" to help crack Nazi codes and ensure the Allies' victory in World War II.

Credit: National Security Agency

More than 10,000 female "cryptoanalysts" were enlisted by the U.S. Army and Navy to help crack Nazi codes and ensure the Allies' victory in World War II, but until now they have been mostly overlooked by history.

Women's entry into the emergent field of what is now called information security was eased somewhat by the nascent state of the discipline at the time, but they were sworn to secrecy. Women also were considered better suited than men for code-breaking because of the tedious and repetitive nature of the task, which was a reflection of the attitudes and sexism of the times.

The female code breakers also laid the foundations of modern cybersecurity, and they pioneered work that would eventually give birth to today's computing industry. Their contributions are now starting to come to light thanks to several years' of scholarly labor in archives, declassification requests, and interviews with surviving participants.

From Politico
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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