The UK GCHQ has launched a Can You Find It challenge designed to help the government agency find and recruit the next generation of cyber security code experts.
The initiative is set to launch on Wednesday on the official Can You Find It website. The race will task participants to crack a series of cryptic codes to find and follow clues littered around the internet to find "the ultimate final answer".
The challenge is open to anyone and offers a variety of prizes to those who solve the riddle. These include the chance to enter a prize draw for a Google Nexus 7 or Raspberry Pi and, for very skilled participants, a potential job offer from a security agency with a salary between £26,000 and £60,000.
Can You Find It is part of the UK's wider cyber security strategy and follows on from 2012's Can You Crack It campaign. The Can You Crack It campaign ran throughout 2012 and attracted over 95 million hits to its website from over 3.2 million unique users. The campaign also resulted in 170 participants being considered for roles within intelligence agencies.
GCHQ's head of resourcing, Jane Jones, said initiatives like Can You Find it and Can You Crack it are essential steps in the UK's ongoing bid to recruit the next generation of security professionals.
"The twenty-first century is confronting us with online threats that are difficult and dangerous, so we want employees who have evolved with the ever-changing digital world and therefore have the right skills to combat these challenges. It's a puzzle but it's also a serious test – the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security," she said.
Recruiting skilled cyber professionals has been an ongoing goal of the UK government since it launched its cyber strategy in 2011. Despite the success of cyber strategy initiatives, many private and public sector bodies have warned that the UK is still suffering a major cyber skills shortage. The UK National Audit Office (NAO) issued a report warning despite the government's efforts, the skills gap will last a further 20 years and cost the nation £27bn per annum.