NSA Careers Tweets A Creepy, Cryptic Message That Turns Out To Be... A Secret Code!
Lest you think National Security Agency employees are a bunch of cloistered, stalker-y, no-fun-having government suits — or defecting Snowden types — here's some evidence that at least some of the agency's tens of thousands of employees have a sense of humor. On Monday, the social media arm of the agency's human resources department Tweeted out a suspicious-looking code from @NSACareers that turned out to be... a sort of-cleverly disguised call for recruits.
The Tweet in question, which made the days of conspiracy theorists everywhere, was originally thought to be a hack or a joke. What looked like a random string of characters came out across the Twitterverse at approximately — nay, exactly — 10:19 a.m.. It was a missive disguised inside a cryptogram, and it went a little something like this:
tpfccdlfdtte pcaccplircdt dklpcfrp?qeiq lhpqlipqeodf gpwafopwprti izxndkiqpkii krirrifcapnc dxkdciqcafmd vkfpcadf.
Normally, the NSA Careers account limits its Twitter game to what you'd expect. On Monday, for example, they told the world they're looking for a clinical psychologist at their base in Fort Meade, and an intelligence analyst position opened up in Hawaii (I know, guys. I checked too. But you're probably not qualified. #Hawaiisomeday).
But then, on Monday, like a bolt of lightning, like a rumble of thunder, the Tweet heard 'round the Internet for approximately 20 minutes was this:
Some speculated that the NSA was drunk. But it turns out that the translation was pretty boring, in the end. One Twitter user, @DanielShealey, ruined the NSA's fun for the rest of us with an explanation of the cryptograph's methodology — and a way to find the translation.
A substitution cipher is a cryptogram in which each letter has been replaced with another character or group of characters, and it's not a very complex way to hide a message. So, at Shealey's bidding, we did so, and here's what we found (we weren't the first to translate it):
want to know what it takes to work at nsa? check back each monday as we explore careers essential to protecting your nation.
Turns out the NSA is just kicking off a weekly employment call. (As an aside, did you know even the number of employees the NSA has is classified?) They probably need to; Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently announced that he wants to triple the size of the military's Cyber Command during the next two years.