Screenshot of GCHQ code challenge

GCHQ challenges codebreakers in drive to recruit new spies

Intelligence agency GCHQ is aiming to recruit cyber spies by challenging them to solve a code-breaking challenge.

The British government intelligence service is using social network sites Facebook and Twitter to attract potential candidates to the 'Can You Crack It' challenge, hosted on an anonymous website.

If the layers of code it has set are cracked, applicants will be presented with a keyword to enter into a form field.

They will then be re-directed to the GCHQ recruitment portal, where hopefuls will find details of the types of roles which should reflect their skills.

GCHQ hope the recruitment strategy will help attract candidates who might not normally apply by conventional avenues.

"Traditionally, cyber specialists enter the organisation as graduates," said a GCHQ spokesman.

"However, with the nature of computer threats ever-changing, it is essential we allow candidates who may be self-taught, but have a keen interest in code-breaking and ethical hacking, to enter the recruitment route too.

"Our target audience is not typically attracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that GCHQ is recruiting for these kind of roles."

Potential codebreakers will have to pass through a strict vetting process, which would also root out those who had previously hacked illegally.

GCHQ said the skills it looks for in an applicant could well be present in someone who takes the online challenge.

"Their skills may be ideally suited to our work," said the organisation.

"And yet they may not understand how they could apply them to our working environment, particularly one where they have the opportunity to contribute so much."

GCHQ has a history of using unusual recruitment techniques.

In 2009, the organisation launched a six-week campaign featuring banner ads and video clips on the Xbox LIVE network. 

The advertisements appeared during video games including Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.

Further information:

Try to crack the GCHQ challenge

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