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GCHQ challenges codebreakers via social networks

GCHQ challenges codebreakers via social networks

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Dec 02, 2011
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1 December 2011
GCHQ challenges codebreakers via socialnetworks
UK intelligence agency GCHQ haslaunched a code-cracking competitionto help attract new talent.The organisation has invited potentialapplicants to solve avisual code postedat an unbranded standalone website. The challenge has also been "seeded" tosocial media sites, blogs and forums.A spokesman said the campaign aimed to raise the profile of GCHQ to an audiencethat would otherwise be difficult to reach."The target audience for this particular campaign is one that may not typically beattracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that GCHQ isrecruiting for these kinds of roles," the spokesman said."Their skills may be ideally suited to our work and yet they may not understandhow they could apply them to a working environment, particularly one where theyhave the opportunity to contribute so much."The competition began in secret on 3 November and will continue until 12December.GCHQ said that once the code was cracked individuals would be presented with akeyword to enter into a form field. They would then be redirected to the agency'srecruitment website.
The organisation said it was not worried that the problem's answer might be spreadaround the internet.It said it would still benefit because the resulting discussion would "generate futurerecruitment enquiries".However, it added that anyone who had previously hacked illegally would beineligible. The agency's website also states that applicants must be British citizens.
The move was hinted at two months ago when Prime Minister David Cameronpresented hisgovernment's response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's annual report.The document noted the committee had concerns about GCHQ's "inability to retaina suitable cadre of internet specialists" to respond to cyber threats.It said that the Cabinet Office supported "initiatives such as the Cyber SecurityChallenge, which promotes careers in cyber security via annual competitions andevents".
GCHQ claimed that this was the firsttime this sort of challenge had everbeen conducted by an organisation totarget these sorts of skills.However, the agency has usedunusual recruitment methods in thepast.In 2009, it placed video content,themes and downloadable pictures on the Xbox Live network which appearedduring Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and other video games.

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