back to article Codebreakers find evidence for hidden puzzle in GCHQ challenge

Codebreakers are split over whether there might be a hidden challenge in the GCHQ-set code-breaking puzzle set last week. The signals intelligence agency set a puzzle at in its attempt to drum up potential interest in a career at the spy centre from outside its traditional graduate programme. The three-part …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Some people should do physics....

    I really want to know whether the Hilbert Space of QM has curvature. Not sure what to believe.

  2. Simon Jones [MSDL]
    Thumb Down

    What steganography?

    I see no steganography here, only meta-data.

    (IE there is a comment in the image file.)

    Steganography would involve altering the pixels of the image itself to encode some text within it while leaving the image looking unaltered to the naked eye.

    1. bobdobbs
      Thumb Up

      Actually, i take back what i said. I misread the part where you mention it's a "comment" in the image file. I do agree with you that it actually has to be somehow encoded in the image data to qualify as steggo, not using a data field defined in the image spec to store the message.

    2. Tim Bergel

      Steganography would involve altering the pixels...

      not so I think. Steganography means "hidden message" and a wide variety of methods of hiding messages are referred-to as steganography, for example concealing data in apparently corrupted packets that are part of a Skype voice call. Agreed, meta-data is pretty poor steganography but I think the term is valid.

    3. bobdobbs

      not quite

      Steggo doesn't require images, only hiding information in an unrelated stream of info.

      If I send a love letter to my wife from jail, whereby taking the first letter of each word forms a sentence instructing her where the evidence is located that i wish her to destroy, that is also steganography.

      I don't have any familiarity with the GCHQ puzzle, so I don't actually know what you mean by "meta data", but the error in your post stands regardless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Not Quite.

        They have internet access in Jail?

  3. c4m1k4z3


    security through obscurity, phail

  4. Chuckl

    I heard there is a sequence from the digits of pi hidden in there for him to find

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The spy agency is a master of misdirection is it?

    Thank Dawkins for that, I've wanted to work there for years, put off by the presence of this ( F-Massive building and grounds that look from space like a giant ear, in the middle of inbreed country, too many miles from where I live to commute, that made it look like that's where they were based.

    Now that I know this is a misdirection, and they aren't actually there at all, but in fact in somewhere like Harrow on the Hill, Earls Court, or South Mimms services, I can apply for one of their many jobs they don't advertise in the area. All I have to do is find the right building.

    I've my suspicions that the Xerox office in Uxbridge might be someone other than Xerox, so I'll try there first. And the good news is that they'll clear people to DV, unlike virtually anyone else, although perhaps they have to as it's one of the only reasons some people will drive to Gloucestershire (Although perhaps not me, after this post.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the final for Crypto types in the US Military

    Cant go too far into commenting here, my Non-Disclosure Agreement's good for another 20 years or so, but if GCHQ's anything like NSA/CSS (which they are), there IS an alternate solution and its rumored that how good you are at finding it decides what level (tactical or strategic) work you wind up doing.

    Considering they seem to have issues recruiting Strat Brats, Id be willing to bet that they're testing for that.

  7. the idiotuk

    Gah! Don't tell me the answer!

    I thought it was assembler code and I was building an environment to disassemble it. I was getting there. Might continue now I know the methodology. As an adjuct my grandad worked as a techie at Bletchley Park. He didn't tell anyone until he was in his 70's. Even his wife didn't know!

  8. CowardlyAndrew

    Simply really, take one in eight pixels and replot as binary and convert to ascii, then a rot 13 and viola, the location of a dead drop to leave your job application.

    Too bad it was full when I dropped mine off.

    doing the ultra complex is nto always needed, its all about variation and ensuring you follow no set pattern. If the information is not of critical importance then simple encoding to ensure its not of use once figured out is simply enough.

  9. Smithy
    Big Brother

    10 Steps Ahead

    As if it wasn't giving me a headache to start with, there is another layer of complexity - maybe many more like the movie Inception!? This is oddly exciting because we'll probably never know the outcome judging by the confusion of the people mentioned in the articles to date despite their excellent code cracking attempts. Still, top, top marks to Graham-Cumming for finding an anomalie.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    English Language Specialists required ASAP

    I hate to be a pedant but will someone please tell MI6 that there is a glaring mistake which is being beamed rapidly accross the globe on the second little media rendering of the program "A Short Introduction to how SIS uses Technology" on

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most interesting detail about all this...

    ... is who it attracts. The audience seems a bit off from what they were shooting for (with their starting salaries), innit?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not random

    It's definitely not random...

    If you run `echo "$answer" | diff - /dev/random`, you'll see that it definititely differs from random.


  13. Homer 1


    Not to be picky, but do PNG comments really count as steganography?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and then a 5 year-old autistic kid cracks it... great idea for a movie!

    No, sorry, this is a horrible idea for a movie. Forget I said that. I publicly apologize to anyone who might be offended by the idea.


  15. MysteryStevenson

    the 50% solution

    Two large blocks of data, 8 over and ten down. Go down 50% to 5th row, go over to 50% 4th row, data combo at that Location is 3D. See numbers that go across from that location and look up and down from there. Do same on second block of data, again 3D, then follow as before.


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