The GCHQ (that’s British for NSA) has been running a marketing gimmick to find new people to read your tweets. On this website, you will find an enigmatic hexdump, and a prompt for a keyword. Supposedly if you get it correct, then you get forwarded to their job site. I don’t care about the job aspect, but I do enjoy a good puzzle.
I’ll add my details and methodology in a follow-up post after the clock runs out, so as not to spoil anything for casual readers who want to take their own look. There are a few good clues in the hexdump if you have previously spent any time looking at real ones.
I did (almost) crack it: I figured out all there was to know about the hexdump. It became clear at that point that the hexes on the website aren’t everything you need for the puzzle, so I cheated to find the missing piece (somewhat obvious, in retrospect). A neat exercise, and I learned something about cryptography.
Now I’m on the second stage, which is a bit more straightforward in that the problem statement tells you what type of answer is expected.
I’m curious to know if this type of recruitment tool is actually useful in finding qualified applicants, or just in generating buzz. Certainly several companies I’ve worked at have had their share of recruiting woes, and dreaming up a set of screening puzzles has to be more fun than dealing with headhunters.