Government aims to recruit hackers with code-cracking contest

The Government Communications Headquarters, (GCHQ), has launched an online recruitment campaign that challenges computer hackers to solve a puzzle to get an interview.


GCHQ, which works alongside MI5 and MI6, has invited potential recruits to solve a visual code hosted on an unbranded standalone website.

The campaign, which has been created with GCHQ’s recruitment partner TMP Worldwide, seeds a message across social media channels, such as blogs and forums, to target specialists with a “keen interest in ethical hacking.”

It is being run without any branding for the government agency and participants will be unaware that the purpose of the challenge is to identify people suitable for a role at the organisation.

A spokesman for the department says the decision to keep the campaign anonymous is to ensure that “applying for a career in the department is not the primary reason for the participant to engage”.

He adds: “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.

GCHQ says that anyone applying who is found to have hacked illegally in the past will not be eligible for recruitment.

The announcement follows the UK’s new Cyber Security Strategy, which was published last week, and the contest will end on 12 December.

In 2009, the GCHQ ran a campaign through Xbox Live, the first time recruitment advertising had run on the entertainment platform, in a bid to target 18 to 34-year-olds.

To see the best creative work from creative, digital and design agencies go to the Pitch website by clicking here

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here