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An alias , also a cover name or cryptonym , is a name that is used to disguise another term, thing or the identity of a person or group. An operation or a project can also be protected with an alias, which in such cases is often called a code name (or code name ). The code name is chosen in such a way that one cannot infer the true meaning.

Often, aliases are used in the military, intelligence services and espionage , but also in industry to conceal projects from the public and especially from competitors. Another area of ​​recent development is anonymity on the Internet . In the Gehlen organization and in the Federal Intelligence Service , aliases for people were (also) referred to as service names and abbreviated to DN .

There are several differences to the term pseudonym , which is regularly only suitable for people . In addition, the real name of artist names may well be known, while with aliases confidentiality is important.

Personnel names

Pseudonyms and nicknames or usernames on the Internet are fictitious names that are intended to conceal a person's true identity. Pseudonymic aliases are also the combat names (such as Subcomandante Marcos ), and aliases in the political resistance and ofthosepolitically persecuted. So took z. B. Herbert Frahm usedthe name Willy Brandt in the fight against the National Socialists , whom he had registered as his official name after the war.

The term cryptonym emphasizes the encryption aspect and is used with quite different meanings:

  • In 2007, Körner defined it in criminology as “a name invented by perpetrators to keep the correct name secret and to cover up the correct name in connection with a crime ”.
  • In literary studies (Wilpert 2001), cryptonym is a name of a person that replaces the real name and makes it unrecognizable. Eymer 1997 defines: "The cryptonym describes an author's name whose letters are hidden in words, sentences or abbreviations."

There are two common techniques for forming such cryptonyms:

  • Either the name is more or less obscured by abbreviation of the first name and / or surname to letters or syllables; Mostly, abbreviations are made to the first letter or syllable (e.g. -ky as the author's cryptonym of crime novels by the author Horst Bosetzky , or the authorship of the permanent editors of a magazine)
  • the name is even hidden in the text by distributing its letters according to a certain system

Typical encodings are anagrams (a well-known example is the pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet , who called himself Voltaire ), or corruptions .

Characteristic of these forms of names ( pseudonyms to be is as a general group), itself elected - aliases are also awarded (approximately from higher authorities and group companions), and then by-name if encrypting, for short, fancy word or just as another name.

Originally, the pub names also served as aliases in student associations , whereas today they serve as nicknames .

Personal code names in the secret service

Personal code names or aliases are often used in secret services and when collecting or passing on secret service information . During the GDR era, the Ministry for State Security used so-called IM (" Inofficial Employees ") among the population. These were kept under code names at the MfS, also in internal reports and files, which made it difficult to identify them after the end of the GDR.

The fact that the real identity of an informant, and in particular an agent , is usually not known to those people who cooperate with him, is part of the effectiveness of the activity on the one hand , and on the other hand it serves to partially protect the respective person. In the case of the Ministry for State Security (also known as the “Stasi”), the central offices had various files with which a real name, alias, occupation , etc. could be assigned. In relation to databases , such operations are called intersection .

When aliases are “exposed”, this often has noticeable consequences. During the reunification in the GDR , for example, a copy of the so-called Stasi- Mob file reached the CIA in an unexplained manner , so that the US secret service knew the real names and aliases of the HVA agents who would have activated them in the event of a "mobilization" (war) should be. The acquisition was called Operation Rosewood by the CIA , and the data extracts later became known as Rosewood files .

Code words for covert operations and other actions

  • When planning and performing operations that are to be kept secret (secret service, military ), cryptonyms are used in the sense of passwords . In these cases it is usually not a question of obscuring personal names.
  • In covert commando actions by intelligence services or difficult military operations , but also in business, it is often important that they should remain hidden from the enemy, competitors or the public for as long as possible because of their importance .
  • Since larger operations require a relatively long time to prepare, a catchy code name is also useful for the linguistic use of those involved. Well-known examples from the years 1941 to 1944 are the code names of German military operations in World War II and the U-relocation (underground relocation) of German armaments factories.
  • D-Day , is often used in English - mostly in the sense of reference date ( Decision Day “day of the decision”, delivery day “day of fulfillment” or Doomsday “day of judgment”). Best known as the code name for the Allied landings in Normandy (June 6, 1944). Operation Overlord began with her, and the landing itself went under the code name Neptune .

Choice of military aliases

On the one hand, there are terms that address the goal or motivation of the action in encrypted form, such as Enduring Freedom for Afghanistan . The name Rhine Exercise could also be interpreted in this way (as military protection of the back).

On the other hand, names from mythology can be determined, such as in Operation Greif , Neptune and others, or allusions to geography ( symbol sunflower ) or military history (e.g. Operation Operation Dragoon (1941) for Dragoons , Operation Barbarossa in memory of the Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa ).

Code names in industry and military

Cover and code names are used to protect industrial and military secrets such as technical developments and patents from espionage.

During the First and Second World Wars, chemical warfare agents , propellants and explosives were given code names such as A, B, C, F, K, M-Stoff, etc.

Computer industry

During the development of hardware or software , the product is often assigned a code name so that it can be identified in the current project. These project code names are primarily for internal use and are usually replaced with more marketingable names after development is complete.

In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency for computer companies to publicize their code names more and to incorporate these names into their marketing strategy.

  • Apple Inc. developed the macOS operating system , versions 10.0 to 10.5 of which were known early on under their code names Cheetah , Puma , Jaguar , Panther , Tiger and Leopard .
  • Microsoft often uses familiar place names to refer to projects from versions of the Windows operating system . Examples are Daytona (Windows NT 3.5), Chicago (Windows 95), Cairo (Windows NT 4.0), Memphis (Windows 98), Georgia (Windows Me), Whistler (Windows XP), and Longhorn (Windows Vista). The code name Longhorn was also used for its Windows Server 2008 operating system for a long time and was even used in the first public beta versions . Microsoft made a break with this tradition with the successor to Vista, whose code name Vienna was changed to Windows 7 (see also Windows code names ).
  • Intel names CPU projects after locations and rivers in the vicinity of the respective Intel development laboratory. Since most CPUs were developed by Intel in the US state of Oregon , the names of rivers in the American West were given as code names. Examples are Willamette , Deschutes , Yamhill , Tualatin , Nehalem or Clackamas . CPUs from Intel's development department in Israel have code names whose origins are places and rivers in the vicinity of Haifa , for example Banias or Dothan .
  • AMD's 90nm and 65nm CPUs under the K8 microarchitecture have code names for cities around the globe. The chip manufacturer uses the names of stars for the Phenom CPUs. Some examples are:
    • The single core Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX : Newcastle , Venice , San Diego and Lima
    • The two-core Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon 64 FX: Manchester , Windsor and Brisbane
    • Phenom CPUs: Altair , Antares , Arcturus and Spica
  • Borland further developed its well-known development environment Turbo Pascal under the code name Delphi into an object-oriented programming language. Even during the development phase, the new programming language caused quite a stir under the name Delphi . The manufacturer Borland then dropped the planned renaming to Turbo Object Pascal when it was launched and officially named its new product Delphi . The name Delphi was later reinterpreted as the "Oracle of Delphi" as an allusion to the Oracle database systems because the development environment was closely tied to the database .

See also


  • Book of aliases, Appendix 8 to the supplement to the H.Dv. 427, (Protection of communications in the army), 1944, ISBN 978-3-7504-5176-6

Web links

Wiktionary: alias  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: cryptonym  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Cover name  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Wolf: The emergence of the BND. Structure, financing, control (=  Jost Dülffer , Klaus-Dietmar Henke , Wolfgang Krieger , Rolf-Dieter Müller [eds.]): Publications of the Independent Commission of Historians for Research into the History of the Federal Intelligence Service 1945–1968 . Volume 9 ). 1st edition. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-96289-022-3 , pp. 530 (list of abbreviations).
  2. Helle Körner: Anthroponym - Pseudonym - Cryptonym: For naming in extortion letters. In: Peter Grzybek, Reinhard Köhler (Ed.): Exact Methods in the Study of Language and Text. Dedicated to Gabriel Altmann on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2007, pp. 331–341, ISBN 978-3-11-019354-1 , p. 331
  3. Gero von Wilpert : Specialized Dictionary of Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 8th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-520-23108-5 , keywords cryptonym, cryptogram .
  4. Wilfrid Eymer: Eymers pseudonyms dictionary. Real names and pseudonyms in German literature . Kirschbaum, Bonn 1997, ISBN 3-7812-1399-4 , section XIV
  5. a b Konrad Kunze : dtv-Atlas onenology . 1st edition. dtv tape 2490 . dtv, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-423-03266-9 , p. 177  Etymological meaning .
  6. List of all known code names from Apple Inc. ( Memento from March 13, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  7. List of all known code names from Microsoft