On Her Majesty's Secret Service


by Tim Moran

UPDATE: Challenge met, maybe.

Ever since the glory days of James Bond, people have imagined themselves gamboling about the globe as operatives for Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Well, this might be your chance: Britain's GCHQ is looking for spies. GCHQ is, according to its site, "one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies and a part of the UK's National Intelligence Machinery. GCHQ works in partnership with the Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) to protect the UK's national security interests."

The intelligence entity, it seems, has not been up to snuff in its efforts recruit high-level Web geeks. Prime Minister David Cameron's recent response to the intelligence committee's annual report explains that he is "concerned about GCHQ's inability to retain a suitable cadre of internet specialists. . . . We therefore urge GCHQ to investigate what might be done within existing pay constraints to improve the situation."

So what did GCHQ do? It created an site called "canyoucrackit," the object of which is to take advantage of the Web's power to ferret out spy recruits who might never have heard of GCHQ or were unaware that certain computer skills are of importance to the agency. Going the full-Web Monty, GCHQ is even making itself and its challenge known through various social media outlets, as well as blogs and forums.

As for the code-cracking itself, here's what a portion of the page looks like:

Code cracking.jpg

So, if you have what it takes and you can solve this before December 12, you, too, can be a British spy. Can you crack the code? As for me, I am shaking--not stirring--at the thought of it.