GCHQ launches code breaking challenge through social networking sites. Reuters

The UK Government Communication Headquarters has launched a code-cracking challenge to attract new talent, the first of its kind by the organisation. The move is meant to address the shortage of Internet security specialists to handle increasing cyber threats.

The challenge has six parts, each containing three puzzles, and all leading to a single answer which takes the form of a nine-letter word with a mathematical connection.

Potential applicants can participate in the competition, which will be available on the social networking sites as well as an unbranded standalone Web site. The participants have to decode a visual code that will be seeded in these sites.

The campaign is meant to raise the profile of the organisation and to create awareness among the people about its functioning. The organisation believes that the campaign will help in recruiting best talents to its resource pool.

"The target audience for this particular campaign is one that may not typically be attracted to traditional advertising methods and may be unaware that GCHQ is recruiting for these kinds of roles," the BBC has quoted GCHQ spokesman as saying.

"Their skills may be ideally suited to our work and yet they may not understand how they could apply them to a working environment, particularly one where they have the opportunity to contribute so much," he added.

Soon after the code is cracked, the winners can reach the recruitment Web site of GCHQ by entering a keyword provided to them. However, the competition is open to only British citizens and illegal hackers are ineligible to participate.

GCHQ said the government is in full support of its initiatives such as "Cyber Security Challenge" to encourage careers in the field through annual competitions and events.