GCHQ launches competition to discover UK's new cyber-security guardians

UK spy agency GCHQ has just launched a new initiative aimed at trying to discover the next generation of cyber-security experts.

Hopefuls can enter the 'Can You Find It?' competition through the dedicated website, where they will be confronted by a series of cryptic codes and puzzles.

Successful applicants could win a Google Nexus 7 tablet, a Raspberry Pi, and even the opportunity to take up a job at the Government Communications Headquarters.

A range of new vacancies will be on offer to applicants that make the cut, with salaries ranging between £26,000 and £60,000.

"Our new challenge is to find and solve 5 codes we have hidden around the web," reads the website. "For anyone able to rise to the challenge and find all the codes, you'll join an elite community of people with some of the specific skills we look for at GCHQ."

Last year, GCHQ introduced the 'Can You Crack It?' initiative, which attracted 3.2 million hopefuls. Of those, only 170 successfully completed the tasks and were subsequently considered for job roles.

Over the summer, the Intelligence and Security Committee announced that a cyber-espionage operation had managed to steal sensitive data from the Ministry of Defence, and earlier this year, a team of MPs said that the UK government's cyber-security policies are simply not strong enough.

"The 21st 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," said Jane Jones, head of resourcing at GCHQ.

"It's a puzzle but it's also a serious test – the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security."

Entrants will have six weeks to complete the online treasure hunt.