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When it comes to the secretive business of recruiting spies, images of shadowy figures and covert meetings at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge spring to mind. However in response to increased threats from cyber crime, a Government agency is throwing open its recruitment process to self-taught hackers and mathematical geniuses who have not been educated at Oxbridge.
The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has launched an online code-cracking competition in a bid to seek out the next generation of internet-savvy spies with the hope they can help protect the country from the growing problem of cyber crime.
It is thought this modern approach will enable the agency to quickly identify those with the right skills for espionage in the computer age. The puzzle is featured on an unbranded website with the domain name canyoucrackit.co.uk. Competitors are then faced with a grid of apparently random numbers and letters along with a countdown clock. They are then given seven hours to unscramble the code to reveal a secret keyword.
A GCHQ spokesman said: 'The target audience for this particular campaign is one that may not typically be attracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that GCHQ is recruiting for these kinds of roles.