NSA Uses Twitter Puzzle To Recruit Computer Hackers

NSA careers for conformists

Wanted: ambitious young computer programmers to crack code for government spy agency accused of creating largest surveillance state targeting US citizens in history. Desired qualifications: don’t question authority, blind loyalty to supervisors regardless of oath to constitution, willingness to break “laws” and user the cover of “national security” and “fighting terrorist threats” to create machine to control population.

Don’t send resume to HR

Don’t send a cover letter or CV to apply for this job.  Head to the National Security Agency (NSA)’s Twitter account and solve a puzzle.

NSA’s puzzle on Twitter

The NSA posted a tweet made up of a series of letters and numbers that, to the naked eye, appeared not to have meaning. The tweet was followed by the hashtags #MissionMonday #NSA #News.

The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is decode the tweet.

“NSA is known as the code makers and code breakers,” an NSA spokeswoman told the Daily Dot. “As part of our recruitment efforts to attract the best and the brightest, we will post mission related coded Tweets on Mondays in the month of May.”  The NSA said the tweet was part of a month-long campaign of coded tweets to “explore careers essential to protecting our nation.”

Code cracked in minutes

According to reports, the code was cracked within minutes, said to be a simple letter substitution puzzle it translated to read: “Want to know what it takes to work at NSA? Check back each Monday in May as we explore career essentials to protect our nation.”  In other words, a puzzle created by marketing or HR, not the real code breakers.

The puzzles, however, are expected to get harder in the coming weeks, with those who crack the most complex codes being of interest to the NSA’s recruiters.

Britain’s intelligence services, MI5, is said to have placed cryptic advertisements in newspapers to recruit candidates. Last year, for instance, MI5 advertised for a health and safety officer without providing details about the job the successful candidate would be required to do.

NSA vulnerability in HI


Interesting to note, the NSA puzzle tweet was also posted in a Twitter stream that was looking for a vulnerability analyst just atop of a post looking for an intelligence analyst in Hawaii.  They might have lost an employee from that region named Edward Snowden.

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About the Author

Mark Melin
Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)valuewalk.com

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