Want to spy for GCHQ? Here’s its recruitment puzzle to test your code-cracking mettle

Surveillance is a growing business for countries like the United States and the UK, so it’s no surprise that organisation’s like Britain’s GCHQ are on the hunt for new recruits.

As in previous years, GCHQ is running an internet competition in the hope of finding “skilled mathematicians, code breakers and ethical hackers” and possibly interesting them in a career at the organisation.

GCHQ puzzle

The online puzzle, called “Can you find it?”, asks you to decode a series of seemingly random letters. To progress to the next stage, you need to enter five answers online, where you will be instantly told if you were right or not.

AWVLI QIQVT QOSQO ELGCV IIQWD LCUQE EOENN WWOAO
LTDNU QTGAW TSMDO QTLAO QSDCH PQQIQ DQQTQ OOTUD
BNIQH BHHTD UTEET FDUEA UMORE SQEQE MLTME TIREC
LICAI QATUN QRALT ENEIN RKG

It looks to me like you don’t need to be a cryptography wizard, however, to have some success in completing the puzzle. I didn’t even try to crack the code, and successfully guessed the first answer just by entering a likely word on my second attempt. (Just think about the history of GCHQ and British code-cracking if you want a clue).

first-answer

If you manage to crack all the codes you will – apparently – be able to follow a trail of clues on a “cyber treasure-hunt” to the final answer, and potentially a job working at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

You have to admire the audacity of GCHQ in running a recruitment drive for code-breakers, just when it and its American counterpart is making the headlines for what many consider to be the disturbing revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Let’s hope, for their sake, that this latest puzzle isn’t undermined by a poorly locked-down website – as it was when they ran a similar competition in December 2011.

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