British Secret Service Creates Website to Recruit Self-Taught Hackers

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TMP Worldwide / GCHQ

It had to happen; after years of science-fiction stories where heroes are recruited through video games that are actually tests of their abilities, a secret service has gone all Last Starfighter and set up a fake website designed to recruit potential hackers, ensuring that they only use their powers for good.

The Guardian reports that the British intelligence service, GCHQ, has set up a website that is “home to a tricky visual code” as a response to a need for “self-taught hackers” that have historically been ignored in more traditional methods of recruitment. Links to the website will be seeded throughout social media, message boards and other online destinations that GCHQ believes are home to those with what’s being described as a “keen interest in code breaking and ethical hacking.”

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A spokesman explained that “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.” The campaign has been designed by recruitment advertising agency TMP Worldwide, although any branding for either the agency or GCHQ will be absent from the website itself, to ensure that those attempting to solve the mystery of the site aren’t doing so merely for the chance to be a spy.

Amusingly, however, there’s a limit to how curious GCHQ hopes its new recruits will be; those found to have illegally cracked the code will be considered ineligible for recruitment.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.