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GCHQ launches online code-cracking test to attract ethical hackers

Warwick Ashford

UK intelligence agency GCHQ has launched an online code-cracking challenge to attract the next generation of web-savvy spies, targeting mainly self-taught ethical hackers.

Invitations to solve the visual code posted at an unbranded standalone website are to be distributed through social media sites, blogs and forums, according to the BBC.

The agency says the social media campaign is aimed at raising the profile of GCHQ to an audience that would otherwise be difficult to reach.

The online marketing campaign has been developed by GCHQ's recruitment specialists, TMP Worldwide. It is being run without any branding for the agency, according to The Guardian.

The target audience is one that may not typically be attracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that GCHQ is recruiting for these kinds of roles, the agency said.

"The digital arena is fast moving, and from a recruitment perspective we acknowledge the need to engage with prospective candidates in new and innovative ways," said a spokesman for GCHQ.

Cracking the visual code will yield a keyword that leads to the agency's recruitment website, but only UK citizens who have not been involved in illegal hacking are eligible to apply for a job.

The GCHQ’s code-breaking challenge is part of the wider UK talent search in a bid to make up the shortfall of cyber warriors. It follows last week’s announcement that the government is to set up a specialist department in GCHQ as part of the national cyber security strategy.

The Joint Cyber Unit will concentrate on tackling the growing threat of cyber attacks from organised criminals, terrorists, hostile states and hacktivists.


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