Britain is hiring spies, but not just any dashing martini-sipper will do. Potential applicants will need to prove they have prodigious hacking know-how to even be considered. To separate the pros from the wannabes, the government intelligence service, GCHQ, is requiring the next "James Bond" to apply through a cryptic online puzzle. Here's what you need to know about the U.K.'s effort to tighten security as it faces a "disturbing" rise in cyber crime:
Yep. "Code-cracking skills are vital to secure the very best talent and to support the GCHQ mission in its fight against cyber threats," says a GCHQ spokesperson. GCHQ, which works with the U.K.'s internal and foreign intelligence services (MI5 and MI6), has a special website with "no obvious branding" displaying a "tricky visual code," says Mark Sweney at Britain's Guardian. On the surface, the code is a grid of 160 pairs of letters and numbers accompanied by a countdown clock, with a simple prompt asking for one thing: a keyword.
And this is meant to attract top talent?
It is. "Traditionally, cyber specialists enter the organization as graduates" from schools like Cambridge or Oxford, says a GCHQ spokesperson. But this new initiative seeks out candidates "who may be self taught" to help GCHQ keep pace with "constantly evolving" computer technologies. The ideal candidate will have a "keen interest in code breaking and ethical hacking" — lawbreakers won't be considered.
Great! Where do I sign up?
Right here. (Of course, you'll need to be a British citizen to qualify.) The GCHQ is looking to hire "around 35 spies over the next few months," says Britain's Telegraph, and the brightest may be "fast-tracked" into a career in espionage. But you better move quickly: About 50 people have already cracked the code.