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Allegedly there are some interesting code breaking challenges, involving social Media Sites +, to be encountered in the recruitment process.
The page invites users to submit a “keyword” to unlock the puzzle, but the Daily Telegraph can disclose that the test is far more complex than it originally appears and contains three separate stages. To the untrained eye the code appears meaningless, but to mathematicians and computer scientists, it is obviously a code written in hexadecimal, a numeral system widely used in computing. It can readily be turned into a decryption program written in the basic language used by most home computers.
The message that must then be decrypted is hidden within the image on the website; an example of a technique for secret communication called steganography. It is discovered by downloading the image and viewing it as a text file. That leads to the second stage of the challenge, which requires would-be spies to build a virtual computer which in turn provides another web address directing them to a software program for which they must create a specific input file.
The file begins with the letters GCHQ, the first clue that the code has been designed by the secret service. Once the file is cracked, it produces a code which is the keyword required by the very first page of the challenge. This enables the codebreaker to access a GCHQ page declaring: “So you did it! Well done.” It asks whether the user would be capable of using their “skills and ingenuity” to combat terrorism before directing the user to a job application page advertising a vacancy for a cyber security specialist based at its Cheltenham headquarters.
A GCHQ spokesman said “more than 50″ had cracked the code.
We read elsewhere that applicants who had solved the code would be “fast tracked during the recruitment process”.