Good morning all.

I don’t blog very often. Actually it would probably be fair to say that blog posts from me are as rare as the proverbial rocking horse shit but today is different. Today I have come into work early for one reason and that reason is that I am in a particularly bad mood.

Why am I in a bad mood? Two reasons.

Firstly, last weekend GCHQ released a challenge for wannabe code breakers everywhere to crack a moderately difficult problem. The problem at was a 3 part challenge which resulted in asking the successful code breaker to apply for a £25k job at GCHQ.


The problem was broken last weekend by Dr Gareth Owen, a computer scientist and senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich and his solution posted here Kudos to him for completing it in a fairly short amount of time. (Your videos really helped me understand the final solution by the way. Thank you).

I did attempt this challenge myself but despite recognising that the message was a binary application and that there was some steganography involved, I failed to form the next logical step and link the two parts together. I’m not ashamed of failing although I am still beating myself up for quitting so easily. However thats not why I came into work early. Nor is it why I have crawled out of the woodwork to post this blog.

The real reason I am pissed off is the basic salary attached to the position. I earn more for what is probably a less challenging role. That isn’t to say the job I do doesn’t have major challenges every day but that is why I love my job. I get paid fairly for facing those challenges. It means I get to go home at the end of each day and know I’ve faced myself, done a good days work and I don’t have to worry about my bank balance.

On the contrary, you’re offering a meagre 25k to the best of the best so that they can protect the country from terrorist attacks, the banks from thieves and swindlers and the infrastructure of this country from complete meltdown in the event of a disaster. If I were that budding young student I’d be highly tempted to act exactly as Neo responds to the Smiths in the first matrix. Middle finger response and where’s my phone call.

This kind of brings me on to my second point.

Yesterday I was procrastinating on twitter (mostly watching for more images of melbourne’s new office space (twitter @melbournehost) when I saw a retweet by Melbourne regarding Alan Turing and the petition to have him (posthumously) pardoned for being gay. I’ve yet to sign this petition myself but you can be damned sure I will be doing very shortly.

Quite frankly both of these two issues are synonymous of each other and of what is wrong with this country as a whole.

This, and previous, Governments quite frankly doesn’t seem to give two shits about their cyber specialists. Alan Turing was an amazing man and without him we would quite possibly have lost the second world war.

It is ironic in part that the problem posted by GCHQ relied on a state machine of which the most famous example is the turing machine developed by Alan Turing.

Given that we as a country rely so heavily on these cyber specialists, I would expect their starting salary to be at least the equivalent of a technical architect, if not more. Should we be financially castrating our brightest minds in the same manner we chemically castrated Alan Turing all those years ago? Is this really how we wish to treat the best of us?

Every day we ask these men and women to defend our networks and country. Networks we rely on for our banking, our social networking, our news. Where would we be without them?

So why are we paying them so little?


For those of you wishing to sign the e-petition regarding a pardon for Alan Turing, the link to the petition is here: which I have now signed.

Leave a Comment