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.

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