Can you crack GCHQ codes? Security centre looks for Peterborough girls to enter cyber contest

Can you crack the code?
Can you crack the code?
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Young girls from Peterborough can show they are the cream of the codebreaking crop in a series of head-scratching online challenges to uncover the UK’s brightest cyber minds.

Girls are being invited to take part in the 2018 CyberFirst Girls Competition, run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ.

The inaugural competition last year saw 8,000 girls take part, with a team from The Peterborough School finishing in the top 100.

NCSC and GCHQ experts have devised 100 challenges of varying difficulty for female pupils aged 12 to 13 to complete during the online phase.

The entrants’ intellect and cyber skills will be tested as they decrypt a series of specially-created logic boxes and regex (regular expression) crosswords.

This year’s top 10 scoring teams will be invited to take part in a live national head-to-head final in Manchester in March.

GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said: “I hope many girls from Peterborough will be inspired to enter – and perhaps take the prize!

“GCHQ is committed to protecting the digital homeland and making the UK the safest place to live online. We need the best and brightest people – girls and boys – with a passion for technology, who can deliver the nation’s cyber security.

“Too often, society limits girls in what they aspire to achieve. Our CyberFirst Girls Competition will give teams the opportunity to develop new skills, meet new people and gain an exciting insight into the world of national security.”

The competition is for girls in Year 8 in England and Wales, S2 in Scotland and Year 9 in Northern Ireland. They can enter in teams of up to four, along with a teacher who will act as a mentor and guardian.

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said: “We want to inspire the next generation of tech-savvy young women to consider a career in cyber security and make a positive impact on the world.

“Females are worryingly under-represented in the global cyber workforce, but there are exceptionally talented girls in our schools. We hope this competition can help to knock down some of the barriers holding them back.”

This year’s winning school will receive a grand prize of £1,000 towards their school’s IT equipment, while each winner will take home individual prizes.

For more information, visit www.cyberfirst.ncsc.gov.uk/girlscompetition.

Sample question:

Can you work out what the sentence says?

This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm 647 892546 848858234 8112

38313538333238373334323132383231323834313638313538343834383838333534 ...-- -- ... ...-- -....

...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- -.... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ....- ...-- ...-- ...-- -- ... ...-- ...-- ...-- ....- ...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..... ...-- --

-.. ...-- ..-- - ...-- -- -.. ...-- ...-- ...-- ..... ...-- ....- ...-- ....- ...-- ..... ...-- ...-- ...-- -- -.. ...-- .-- -- ...-- -- -.. ...-- -- -.. ...-

- ....- ...-- -.... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ....- ...-- ...-- ...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..-- -

Answer: This gets harder to decode unless you worked somewhere like fiveonedotnineninesixfivethreefour

dashzerodotsevenfourtwoeightzeroseven

(The long numbers at the end are the co-ordinates to Bletchley Park Mansion).

The workings out

Every two words, something else is done to the text, it goes

Backwards: This gets redrah ot edoced sselnu uoy dekrow erehwemos ekil

nevesorezthgieowtruofnevestodorezhsad ruofeerhtevifxiseninenintodenoevif

This gets harder to

Caesar Cipher (18): This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm mgq vwcjgo wjwzowegk wcad

fwnwkgjwrlzyawgoljmgxfwnwklgvgjwrzksv jmgxwwjzlwnaxpakwfafwfaflgvwfgwnax

This gets harder to decode unless

Text Keypad: This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm 647 892546 959969345 9223

3969545975992946556493969554845979578 5649995959629725932393235489349629

This gets harder to decode unless you worked

Number shifted down one: This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm 647 892546 848858234 8112

2858434864881835445382858443734868467 4538884848518614821282124378238518

This gets harder to decode unless you worked somewhere like

Numbers reversed and converted to hex: This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm 647 892546

848858234 8112

38313538333238373334323132383231323834313638313538343834383838333534

37363438363834333733343438353832383335343435333831383834363834333438353832

This gets harder to decode unless you worked somewhere like fiveonedotnineninesixfivethreefour

Converted to Morse: This gets redrah ot wvguwv kkwdfm 647 892546 848858234 8112

38313538333238373334323132383231323834313638313538343834383838333534 ...-- -- ... ...-- -....

...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- -.... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ....- ...-- ...-- ...-- -- ... ...-- ...-- ...-- ....- ...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..... ...-- --

-.. ...-- ..-- - ...-- -- -.. ...-- ...-- ...-- ..... ...-- ....- ...-- ....- ...-- ..... ...-- ...-- ...-- -- -.. ...-- .-- -- ...-- -- -.. ...-- -- -.. ...-

- ....- ...-- -.... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ....- ...-- ...-- ...-- ....- ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..... ...-- -- -.. ...-- ..--