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Sign Up Now for NSA’s 2020 Codebreaker Challenge 

  • Published

Wondering if you have what it takes to solve tough problems like those tackled every day at the National Security Agency (NSA)? Now is your chance to find out.

NSA is kicking off its 2020 Codebreaker Challenge, a Computer Network Operations/Crypt themed challenge similar to those that routinely threaten national security. U.S. undergraduate and graduate students can sign up now to tackle the series of problems that touch on skills like software engineering, cryptanalysis, exploit development, block chain analysis and more.  

This year’s Codebreaker Challenge follows the storyline of a renowned American journalist who went missing while on assignment abroad. A criminal organization, known for using drones in their kidnap-for-ransom, has claimed responsibility. Participants must locate the missing journalist and hostage takers, facilitate the recovery of the journalist, and take actions to prevent another incident from happening. 

“We always try to get a mission tie in from NSA and this year we went to our personnel recovery team to learn about what they do,” explained Michael Annichiarico, one of the creators of the challenge. “The storyline is what makes our challenge unique. This year is also a bit different because we broadened the tasks to challenge a wider range of skill levels and expose players to technical areas beyond cybersecurity. We hope to reach more students this way.” 

For the first time, the challenge will be released in multiple phases, with the first going live 8 October. Students will earn points for tasks solved and schools will be ranked on a leaderboard which can be found on the Codebreaker Challenge website

“This is an amazing experiential learning opportunity,” said Natalie Janiszewski, a higher education outreach advocate from NSA. “It gives students the chance to work on a real world problem and see if they have what it takes to work at NSA.”