Puzzles & Quizzes

# The British Government Is Using This Puzzle to Recruit Young Spies

Logic puzzles and word scrambles make for fun ways to kill a little time. But the British government's listening agency, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is using one such puzzle as a recruiting tool. Can you solve this word scramble? If so, maybe you'd make a good spy.

On Monday, January 15, 2018, BBC Radio 4's "Today," which broadcasts a puzzle every morning in its "Puzzle for Today" slot, broadcast something a little different. It was a puzzle, yes, but it was supplied by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a GCHQ subdivision dedicated to cybersecurity. The NCSC aimed to pique the interest of young girls with their puzzle, in hopes of recruiting 12- and 13-year-olds as prospective spies. Though the challenge was meant for tweens, it's no walk in the park. Try the puzzle out yourself below, and keep scrolling to read the answer.

## Here's the Puzzle

"Thirteen rotters stole my answer and they ROTated it by 4 and then ROTated it by 10 and all I have left is Uccr ziqy hc ozz QmpsfTwfgh Uwfzg! — can you help me get my answer back?"

You can scroll down for the answer. But first, a few hints to help you crack the code, if you're stuck. This puzzle is an example of a "Caesar cipher," a type of word scramble where every letter of a message is shifted (or rotated) through the alphabet by a certain number of letters. Imagine a Rubik's cube of letters. According to Business Insider, "Thirteen rotters" is a clue in and of itself too. It references "ROT13," a cipher that shifts letters exactly halfway along the alphabet (A becomes N, N becomes A), replacing a letter with a letter that comes 13 letters later. Knowing this tells us that the puzzle is dealing with a 26-letter alphabet. Phew.