New Mossad ad quizzes would-be cyberspies
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New Mossad ad quizzes would-be cyberspies

HEX code in newspaper ad leads to webpage where potential recruits are invited to take part in a digital game of hide and seek

A cropped part from an ad published by the Mossad in Israeli media outlets. (Courtesy)
A cropped part from an ad published by the Mossad in Israeli media outlets. (Courtesy)

Israel’s spy agency published a wanted ad this week containing a coded message for would-be secret agents.

Mossad’s ad, run on several media outlets, featured a photo of a screen showing computer code with two parts highlighted: the combination “82 d3 54 aa” and the words “Are you ready for a challenge?”

The combination was written in HEX code. When converted from Hexadecimal to decimal code, it gives the number “130 211 84 170” – an IP address.

The address leads to a page titled “Challenge #1”.

A screen capture of the first page in the Mossad challenge for new recruits. (Screen capture)
A screen capture of the first page in the Mossad challenge for new recruits. (Screen capture)

The text beneath reads: “Good morning Agent C! We require your skills for an urgent search & rescue mission. One of your colleagues has been taken hostage by an unidentified group, and is being held in a previously unknown holding facility. Our SIGINT squad has been successful in geo-locating the facility and found indications of an electronic lock mechanism in the main entrance. The rescue team needs your help in opening this mechanism so they can enter and search the premises.”

The next page asks the user to browse a file from their PC to be used as a security token.

A screen capture of the second page in the Mossad challenge for new recruits. (Screen capture)
A screen capture of the second page in the Mossad challenge for new recruits. (Screen capture)

Dr. Tal Pearl, a cyber expert, told the Hebrew language website NRG that the recruitment method chosen by Mossad is often used by cyber and hi tech companies.

“There are a few benefits to this,” Pearl said. “First of all it is a very strong filter that leaves in the end only the experts who succeeded in solving all the challenges. This way you don’t just get flooded with CVs but only get those from the people who really fit you.”

“In addition,” Pearl told NRG, “when you publish a challenge like this you show potential recruits that you are serious and you only the draw the best candidates. This way you brand yourself as a serious, sophisticated organization worth working for. In this sense this ad by Mossad is very appropriate.”

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