This is quite an amusing story, I’m sure many of you have read about the ‘hacking challenge’ set up by GCHQ and that they are looking to hire
hackers cyber-security specialists through non-traditional channels.
The thing that tickled me was, well there were two things actually..one that the challenge site was coded in ASP and the second was that you could avoid the whole cracking thing and find the solution page via Google by using the site: operand (O HAI).
Ok and another…the .css files aren’t absolute and don’t work outside of the home directory. I’m not surprised they are only paying £25,446 if this is the kind of talent they are hiring.
The GCHQ-set code-breaking puzzle was solved over the weekend.
The signals intelligence agency last week set a puzzle at canyoucrackit.co.uk in its attempt to unearth potential recruits beyond its traditional graduate programme. Late last week it emerged that the successful completion page for the puzzle was available by a simple Google search.
Many people have since cracked the code properly including Dr Gareth Owen, a computer scientist and senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich in England. Owen has posted a full video explanation of how to solve the three-part puzzle here.
Would-be code-breakers were presented with a 16×10 grid of paired hexadecimal numbers. The first stage involves recognising executable code as well as unpicking some steganography.
Stage two involves developing a virtual machine to execute code.
The challenge itself isn’t too bad, but it’s rather narrow in it’s scope – if you’re a x86 assembly kind of dude – you’ll be fine. If that aint your bag, you might struggle a bit with this – honestly it doesn’t fill me with hope for the future of the talent pool in GCHQ.
All negativity aside I personally applaud them for trying to do something different and trying to hire through different channels, it may well turn up some talent they wouldn’t normally be able to hire.
The final stage involves constructing a file with ‘gchqcyberwinAAAABBBBCCCC’ where A, B, C are the codes from earlier in the challenge. This code, when run, generates a web address which has the keyword (the web address is wrong if you put the wrong a,b,c in).
“The last stage contains a deliberate security hole, which GCHQ emailed me to say was deliberate to make solving the problem easier – but it turns out I took a short cut instead and bypassed this bit,” Owen explained.
Reaching the successful completion page was a “rather disappointing end to quite a lot of work,” as he puts it.
GCHQ is offering would/be applicants who crack the code a starting salary of just £25k, very low for a skilled job, as the Daily Telegraph notes.
Owen summed up the feelings of many when he told El Reg: “Why are we paying world-class cyber security experts what we pay passport-stampers at the border-control-agency?”
Anyway if you want to go directly to the job application, it’s here:
Closing date for applications is 12 December 2011, so you’ve still got a little bit of time if you’re itching to earn £25K a year.
Source: The Register
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