Pit Your Wits Against British Spooks

The festive season is upon us, and for Brits of a technical bent that means it’s time for the GCHQ Christmas Challenge. Sent out annually as part of the Christmas card from the UK’s intelligence centre, this is a chance for would-be spooks to pit their wits against some of the nation’s cleverest cryptologists whose work you’ll never have heard of.

This year the puzzle is aimed at those with a secondary school education, in the hope of fostering an interest in maths and science in younger people. It’s a series of puzzles of ascending difficulty, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the earlier ones being easy, to complete the set will still require some brain power.

We’re guessing that as in previous years, this puzzle will garner a significant quantity of entries. It’s a successful public relations exercise from the agency which like all such organisations has felt its fair share of controversy in its time. There may thus be readers who regard it with some suspicion, but it’s fair to say it’s not the only such popular exercise from a govenment agency. If meanwhile you fancy a bit of GCHQ history, we caught their Science Museum exhibition back in 2019.

13 thoughts on “Pit Your Wits Against British Spooks

  1. I’d like to ask if GCHQ has used their power under the rewritten Computer Misuse Act (https://privacyinternational.org/press-release/1158/after-legal-claim-filed-against-gchq-hacking-uk-government-rewrite-law-permit), We know they were breaking this law before this change without consequence (https://www.theregister.com/2014/02/05/gchq_anonymous_ddos_spat/), It’s nice to know Spies will use this against hackers when it is illegal, then change the law to make it legal, happy hacking GCHQ

    I guess some are more ‘safe’ than others.

        1. Of course they are! Well, until they are not….

          Just like the police (the primary domestic execute of the State’s monopoly on physical violence), they are on your side, until they are not (or you skin is the wrong color)….

  2. Or if you expose the war crimes of an foreign nation, well the wrong foreign nation.
    Or if you challenge their authority.
    Or if you work towards meaningful socialism.
    … I could go on.

  3. My replies don’t seem to work, those were meant for Rog77 and irox ^

    If we would like to live in a democratic society we need to know what is going on to exercise democratic control, organisations like GCHQ are Antithetical to that.

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