They’re looking for a few good spies. GCHQ, the intelligence service of the government of the United Kingdom, is looking for some web-savvy cyber-sleuths-to-be, and apparently decided a post on Craigslist wouldn’t quite do it.
So it put up a website with the enigmatic title “ Can you crack it?” and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The site has a matrix of letters of letters and numbers on the homepage — surely something is hidden in them — and a place at the bottom inviting you to “Enter Keyword.”
If you crack the code, please let us know — though you may not get the chance. If you enter the right keyword, you’ll get past the homepage and possibly into the intriguing world of intelligence-gathering.
Britain’s GCHQ (short for Government Communications Headquarters; it’s been around since 1918) says it usually recruits bright young people right out of university, but in the digital age, it says, there may be a lot of bright young hackers out there who are worth talking to.
“The target audience for this particular campaign 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,” said the GCHQ in U.K. media.
“Their skills may be ideally suited to our work and yet they may not understand how they could apply them to a working environment, particularly one where they have the opportunity to contribute so much.”
That may be flattery. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government said last week it is setting up a Joint Cyber Unit to protect against cyber attacks from hacktivists, organized crime, hostile states and would-be terrorists. Having disaffected young hackers work for the government would be better than seeing them work against it.
GCHQ has tried unusual promotions before; in 2009 the BBC says it placed video content on the Xbox Live network, where it appeared during such video games as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.
The “Can you crack it?” contest ends Dec. 12; there’s a countdown clock in the lower left corner of the homepage.