Facebook One Day, Stopping Terrorists The Next

Written by Tony Ibrahim     02/12/2011 | 00:41 | Category: INDUSTRY

The British Intelligence agency, the GCHQ, is relying on social networks and an online code-breaking game to recruit its future candidates who will lead the charge against cybercrime.

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Avid social networkers are taken to the website www.canyoucrackit.co.uk, where they'll find 160 paired numbers and letters, and a countdown timer. They have 7 hours to decrypt the characters to reveal a secret word. If successful, they'll be redirected to the GCHQ website and invited to apply for a job.

The code-breaking game is designed to identify potential candidates with the skillset to interpret terrorist-clad code communications.

Of those who have 7 hours of patience and the skill set to crack the code, only 35 will be hired within the next few months, with the game expiring after December 12th.

The GCHQ believes the online game and its viral Facebook/Twitter campaign will help increase awareness of a code-breaking career, while identifying candidates with fitting mathematical skills, capable of handling 'disturbing' levels of cybercrime.

"Our target audience is not typically attracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that we are recruiting for these kinds of roles," a GCHQ spokesperson told the SMH.

"Their skills may be ideally suited to our work and yet they may not understand how they could apply them to a working environment, particularly one where they will have the opportunity to contribute so much." 

Unlike agents of old, who were courted in the university quads of Cambridge and Oxford, tomorrow's secret service agents are being recruited from Facebook and Twitter.

"Traditionally, cyber specialists enter the organisation as graduates. However, with the threats to information and computer technology constantly evolving, it is essential that GCHQ allows candidates who may be self taught, but have a keen interest in code breaking and ethical hacking, to enter the recruitment route too."

The increase in cybercrime has seen governments and private businesses turn to unorthodox recruitment methods, with convicted hackers being hired as security experts.

GeoHot, the kingpin behind the PlayStation console hack and the first person to unlock Apple's iPhone, was hired by Facebook a few months back. At the time, he was fresh from his largely publicised legal proceedings with Sony, but it seems his white-collar rap sheet was enough to impress Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Read: Facebook Hires Celebrated Hacker Of iPhone & PS3