Simple Google search unlocks GCHQ code-cracking competition

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

GCHQ logo with cracksGCHQ’s “Can You Crack It?” website, designed to help recruit talented codebreakers for the British government department, is getting lots of attention from the media and bloggers – but some of that may be unwanted.

A number of bloggers and Twitter users have pointed out that GCHQ appears to have done rather a poor job at locking down the website, making it child’s play for anyone to visit the webpage you’re only supposed to see if you’ve successfully cracked the code.

GCHQ code-cracking success page

All it takes to find the page is to use the site: command in Google, as the “Can You Crack It?” webmaster seemingly didn’t hide the success page from search engines.

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Can You Crack It search results on Google


Of course, none of this means that the code-cracking competition isn’t still worth participating in. It was perhaps inevitable – once GCHQ’s involvement in the challenge was known – that some would ferret around for chinks in the website’s armour.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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