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An Enigma

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posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:07 AM
Some say they're used to communicate secret instructions to spies and espionage agents. Some say they're used to run drugs. Some say they're just nonsense to throw off the "other side". Nobody really knows for sure. One thing we do know is, they're real and if you look hard enough you can still find them. They've existed for decades, fading in and out of the ether at night. They're one of the great mysteries of our time; "Numbers Stations".

Anyone who's ever spent any time looking into numbers stations will know they are an endless rabbit hole you can go down with no end.

What are numbers stations? Numbers stations are radio broadcasts, generally in the shortwave radio band, which broadcast a seemingly endless stream of numbers. Some of them have music, but only briefly, and the music too serves a purpose. The numbers broadcast are usually in repeated groups. The same sequence of 5-6 digits will get repeated several times, and then another group of 5-6 digits will get broadcast. Then the same digits from the beginning will get broadcast again. After you spend some time listening to numbers stations you will realize they mean something, because there is considerable effort put into coming up with these sequences of numbers.

If done properly, the numbers sequences represent one of the only truly unbreakable codes known to man. Not even the omnipotent 3 letter agencies can break the codes. The reason for this is because of a system using a tool called a "one time pad". A one time pad is basically a lookup table which breaks down the code sequence into letters or words, but the trick to the one time pad's used only once and never used again. This 'key' for lack of a better term is used on a specific day, at a specific time. Once it has been used to decode a message it is destroyed. The same key will never be used again. So, while the sequence of numbers being broadcast may seem the same, or may seem to periodically repeat, the message is always different.

I have to say, I've spent a great deal of time over the past 20 years looking into numbers stations and they are fascinating to no end. What are they saying? To whom?

The number sequences on numbers stations are usually broken down into groups, and each group of number is thought to represent something like what person or group the message is directed to, the message itself, and other sequences which are thought to represent the end or beginning of a message. This only begins to scratch the surface of what numbers stations are.

I'd love to hear from others here on ATS who are interested in numbers stations, and/or folks who have spent any time looking into them. The Interwebz are chocked full of information on them. Just type "numbers stations" into any search engine and you'll get tons of results discussing them. There are even some massive databases which catalog what time and frequency each one broadcasts, and extensive information about where they might be located. And this is one of the even more fascinating things about numbers stations, many of them are almost impossible to locate due to the nature of certain long wavelength bands on shortwave. The station could be right next door to you and you wouldn't receive it, but if you're on the other side of the planet it will come in clear as day.

Anyone else interested in numbers stations?

I have all sorts of links and info I can post if people are interested.

One of the true enigmas of our generation and generations past.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:14 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Some of them are definitely intel operations. As you point out, using one-time codes to instruct agent activities.

I'd wager there is other odd stuff on the radio frequencies. Another one is the U.S. military network that sends EAMs.

edit on 28-2-2021 by F2d5thCavv2 because: (no reason given)

edit on 28-2-2021 by F2d5thCavv2 because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:18 AM
That's cool, but I'm more interested in fnigmas.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:19 AM
I've always been fascinated by numbers stations and other shortwave oddities, but by time time I really started to get interested (about 10 years ago) most of them were no longer operational.

I even bought a shortwave radio but unfortunately the reception wasn't the greatest so I really couldn't hear anything, so I just listen to the WebSDR instead and can get lost on there for hours and hours at a time.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:26 AM
a reply to: F2d5thCavv2


Just numbers stations in a different format really.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:30 AM
a reply to: EmperorZeno

Oh, there's still a whole slew of them out there. Many of them have gone to digital messages now though so unless you've got a modem to decode them it just sounds like tones.

I don't really understand this because a digital message takes more equipment to listen to than a voice message, which only requires a person's ears and a pencil. Carrying around a bunch of specialized equipment is likely to arouse suspicions if someone gets caught with it.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:37 AM
a reply to: EmperorZeno

I listen to them on SDR's also, but I also have an ICOM-R75 receiver which will pick up most anything around the globe depending on the solar conditions. Getting the antenna set up on the ICOM can be a pain though because it's like 200 feet of wire to get strung up.

I found a line on a 60' tower yesterday for $500 bucks. If my shoulder wasn't so screwed up I'd jump on that deal. I may still if I can find someone to help me load the sections.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 11:18 AM
I think the topic is fascinating. I have to admit, the first time I heard of them was when the movie with John Cusack and Malin Ackerman came out. I haven't done a ton of research on them but super interesting topic!

a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 12:46 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I grew up sitting in front of my dad's large 1950s era "ship to shore" radio.

It is how I travelled the world then and yes, I am familiar with number stations.

I've not thought about those days in a long time. Good memories!

thanks, OP!

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 01:30 PM
You are talking about the original Morse code. There were no dots and dashes representing letters then. What we now call Morse code was stolen by Samual Morse from a pattent application by a tellegraph operator named Bain.

The old Morse code was made up of 5 digits representing 0 through 9. The first three numbers are page numbers and the last two are message or word numbers. Five numbers can mean an entire massage or a single letter as in a part of a word in an address. This was before the tellagraph system went into public use, it was used for the stock markets and banking.

Every corporation had their own book to encode and decode the messages and no two used the same code. This seems to have been abandoned after the tellqgrqph was put into use by the public, when the railroads were built Westwood across the US. Several government agencies made their own code books based on this method because is is impossible to break unlike the Enigma machine that only works on single characters at a time.

Beware sending the same signiture on the morning weather report every time. That is what broke the enigma code.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 03:39 PM
You would think in this day and age that most intel agents would get their instructions by encrypted app. "EyeSpy007" or "MataHari" something like that.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 04:04 PM
If the process is like we used many many years ago the one time pad is not really a one time affair. One of the sequence numbers tells you what page on the pad to go to (set) and all the other numbers are decoded on that specific page.

Ours was not a pad but a circular device that we called the "whiz wheel" that had two hard paper circular peaces of paper that were affixed to a back plate of hard paper by a center grommet. Set the number in the master slot and all the numbers that would follow you had to rotate the second wheel's slot to get the letters of the message. Simple but without the wheel no way to break the code.

Set "X-ray" which was the master for this code...23, 1, 45,8, 8, 74, 15, etc etc... Any change in the master would change the end result of what letter or letters you got by the numbers in the second wheel. Made of paper so the wheel could be destroyed easily and there was a new wheel handed out every few days depending on the mission. Very cumbersome and time consuming to use.. It sucked but without the master the code could not be broken...period... hahaha
edit on 727thk21 by 727Sky because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:11 PM
a reply to: 727Sky

The one time pad is a little different, and it is only used once. In fact, there have been times in the past where cold war codes were broken simply because they used the sequences more than once. They were pre-printed pads which had a look-up sequence on them, some very complicated involving skipping spaces forwards and backwards in the decoding process.

I am aware of the ones you are talking about. I don't know if they were truly cypher "proof" like the one time pads are/were, but as I understand it they were pretty secure.

With the one time pads, many of the message elements were widely known like the headers, buffers and ends, but the message contents were a complete mystery and remain that way to this day. A number or a letter could equal a number, a word, an alpha-numeric, and some even equaled symbols, but never the same thing twice. The headers and footers were quickly discovered just by the repetition cycle, almost as if the sender wanted them discovered (which they likely did). They wanted listeners to know a secret message was being sent, and if you look into some of the research you can even see how some of the headers were broken down, including what groups and/or regions they may have been intended for.

It's a really interesting study. Even the different frequencies used are important because one frequency will propagate better in one direction than another, or over a different distance. There were tremendous amounts of research done on solar events and propagation times during such events. It's actually pretty staggering to contemplate all that went into generating these messages, so it must have been very important.

It is said one of the biggest agencies which still uses them (besides the old soviet bloc) is the Mossad. Some of the stuff these guys are into would scare even the most hardened operative to death!

Interesting stuff!

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:13 PM
a reply to: Blue Shift

Internet is very easily trackable.

RF, if done properly, is almost impossible to track.

Sometimes, a 'better mouse trap' is just a fools errand.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:16 PM
a reply to: beyondknowledge

No, these are far more complex than that. Enigma, and the pitfalls were well known about when numbers stations were created.

The secret is a layman's term of "low overhead", meaning not a lot of special equipment required on the far end, and what equipment is required is not overly suspicious. Cyphers like enigma required complex and heavy equipment on both ends, the last thing a field operative wants to be hauling around or to get caught with. Hence numbers stations.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:21 PM
One of the more interesting numbers stations I "DX'd" (received) lately was a North Korean station which was broadcasting a mix of propaganda, in English, and numbers to agents interspersed. I listened to it for several hours one morning. It was clearly targeted at Americans in Asia (likely troops) and it was loaded with other secret stuff integrated into about every other part of the broadcasts.

I was online at the time, and I posted my freq's and band info, so several others were able to pick it up too. It was extra-interesting because this particular station was not one of the regularly scheduled stations in N. Korea (and there are many).

It was like listening to a modern day "Tokyo Rose". Fascinating.

ETA - I picked this station up like it was broadcasting from my living room, and what was weird was some big time HAM's on the west coast could barely pick it up, but another guy in Kansas said he could hear it like a clear-channel AM station also. Weird.
edit on 2/28/2021 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:25 PM
What Happened to the Numbers Stations? - Spying by Numbers

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 05:41 PM

originally posted by: EndtheMadnessNow
What Happened to the Numbers Stations? - Spying by Numbers

Great video explaining the process!!

They didn't hit too much on why the internet isn't as good, primarily because much of it is classified, but suffice to say...if you start sending unbreakable codes across the internet "they" WILL find you and want to know why (think...REALLY want to know why!! Like, how long can you hold your breath underwater!!).

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 07:39 PM
FCD have you considered using 1/4 wavelength or eighth wavelength antennas? Fractions of a wavelength rx only slightly less well then full wavelength.
There was a pamphlet floating around called ‘a bundle of wet string’ which was a radio operators bible, Torah and Koran rolled into one.
I can try and find it on the webz and post a link if you would like.
It details such beautiful procedures as tuning a tree into an antenna and many expedient practices to have a go at.

A reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Don’t know if this will work and could only find it for sale on Angus and Roberson, any one good at finding free downloads?

edit on 28-2-2021 by Dalamax because: Please work link

edit on 28-2-2021 by Dalamax because: Stupid link

edit on 28-2-2021 by Dalamax because: User dumb as rocks. To the link, all is forgiven.

posted on Feb, 28 2021 @ 11:42 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

The whiz wheels were a pain in the butt to use especially when trying to fly, listen to the "set" and the following numbers on one radio while two other radios had chatter on them.... Once away from any head shed REMF's we just made up our own codes especially for call signs. We all flew together almost every day so someone could burp we would get the meaning...hahahah

One of the places in S.E. Asia could listen to the taxi cab drivers in N.Y. if they wanted to and that was all in the early 70s.... No telling what the capabilities are today. We could triangulate a bad guy transmitters location down to 250 meters (or better) and ARK-LIGHT (B-52 bomb drop) the the hell out of them if they were on some REMFs hit list.

Those were the days... Push a button and make them disappear ! Nothing has really changed as there is always someplace the REMFs want to push a button on !

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