General Question

yaujj48's avatar

How is SIGINT performed in WW1?

Asked by yaujj48 (1189points) February 18th, 2023

SIGINT is signal intelligence where operators intercept signals. The technology use to transmit signals back in WW1 are usually radio and telegraph (maybe I am missing something).

I was wondering how people exactly intercept those signals because I am not too familiar with signal interception and communication technology. How do people intercept the underwater telegraph cables and radios like the Zimmermann Telegram.

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2 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

At the start of WW1 the British cut the underwater cables coming out of Germany meaning they had no direct connections to any where. Germany sent communications via neutral countries. The British placed spies in the various countries where the underwater cables surfaced and were then able to intercept all the traffic worldwide. This did raise some issues because we were technically also spying on our Allies.

flutherother's avatar

British Signals Intelligence began in 1914 when it was realised that interception of German radio traffic could allows the UK to anticipate German plans. A good history of GCHQ will give you details of how Sigint was used and developed during WW1 eg Behind the Enigma: the Authorised History of GCHC, Britain’s Secret Cyber-intelligence Agency by John Ferris.

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