Crack a code to get hired by U.K. spy agency

Looking for a job? Britain's Government Communications Headquarters launches an online code-cracking challenge to recruit candidates for posts dealing with cyberthreats.

Good luck!
Good luck! Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

Google is no longer the only employer that wants to recruit via tough-to-crack math questions.

Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency has launched a Web site challenging visitors to crack a code, according to the BBC. The purpose is to find potential candidates to fill its posts dealing with cyberthreats, which the U.K.'s spy chief recently identified as a disturbing threat .

The competition started November 3 via an unbranded Web site at that displays a visual code resembling a grid of random numbers and letters. Visitors have to first crack that code before getting redirected to GCHQ's Web site, which further directs them on the types of jobs that they can apply for.

GCHQ told the Telegraph today that a number of people have solved the riddle, but the competition will continue for another 10 days until December 12.

The idea behind the challenge, the GCHQ says, is attracting candidates who might be difficult to reach otherwise. And this isn't the first time the agency has relied on unusual recruiting tactics.

The BBC reports that in 2009, the GCHQ placed content on the Xbox Live network that appeared during Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, and other games. Prior to that, it targeted gamers by putting digital posters in online titles including Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas and Splinter Cell Double Agent.

Go ahead and try to crack the code yourself, but note that you have to be a British citizen to be hired by the spy agency.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.


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