Whiz Kids Crack UK Intelligence Agency's Online Ad for Code-Breaking Spies

The UK intelligence agency GCHQ said Thursday that more than 50 people so far have cracked an online code launched in a bid to track down the spies of the future.

The service, which works with MI5 and MI6, has set up a website which hosts a Matrix-style code, as it attempts to look beyond traditional methods of recruitment.

Visitors to the site -- which has no GCHQ branding -- are faced with seemingly meaningless rows and columns of numbers and letters and must come up with the hidden keyword.

Anyone who successfully unearths the word will be redirected to the GCHQ's recruitment website, where they will be able to apply for jobs suited to their skills.

The firm said 80 percent of those who solved the puzzle so far have started the job application process.

Interest in the campaign is being generated through social media websites, where the agency hopes to tap into a new generation of self-taught hackers to help tackle cyber crime.

"The digital arena is fast moving and, from a recruitment perspective, we acknowledge the need to engage with prospective candidates in new and innovative ways," a GCHQ spokesperson said. "With this marketing initiative, we hope to reach out to a broader audience who may not be attracted to traditional advertising methods."

The organization is looking to recruit around 35 spies, ideally with knowledge of unusual languages, as well as the code-breaking skills.

The game will be online on www.canyoucrackit.co.uk until Dec. 12.