This week’s Guardian carried an interesting story on how the U.K. government’s intelligence service, GCHQ, is running a code-breaking contest online as a means of attracting people with a gift for math, puzzles, codes, and hacking who might make for potential recruits into their service. The site is: http://www.canyoucrackit.co.uk/index.asp
The article goes on to say:
GCHQ, which reports to the foreign secretary and works with MI5 and MI6, has set up a website that is home to a tricky visual code.
The agency is drumming up interest in the code by seeding a message into social media, such as blogs and forums, that cyber specialists with a “keen interest in code breaking and ethical hacking” might frequent.
GCHQ usually hires its cyber specialists straight from college or university as graduates. However, the organisation admits that with the fast-moving world of computer technology it needs to tap the ranks of “self-taught” hackers as well.
The online marketing campaign, which has been developed by GCHQ’s recruitment specialists TMP Worldwide, is being run without any branding for the agency.
GCHQ said, somewhat cryptically, that the campaign is anonymous “in order that applying for a career in the department is not the primary reason for the participant to engage”.
“The digital arena is fast-moving, and from a recruitment perspective we acknowledge the need to engage with prospective candidates in new and innovative ways,” said a spokesman for GCHQ. “With this marketing initiative we hope to reach out to a broader audience, who may not be attracted to traditional advertising methods.
Somewhat ironically, given the campaign is aimed at computer hackers, GCHQ says that anyone who is found to have illegally hacked the code will not be eligible for recruitment.
GCHQ has employed unusual recruitment marketing tactics in the past.
In 2007 it ran an ad campaign in online games, including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent, to find those interested in a “career in British intelligence”.