Intelligence: Solve The Puzzle To Get In


May 11, 2017: The Israeli domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet, similar to the British MI5), has adopted some of the recruiting techniques pioneered by the foreign intelligence service (Mossad, is similar to the American CIA and British MI6). The new approach was the use of a riddle published in the media for anyone to try and solve. Some 60,000 people submitted solutions but only six succeeded in solving the riddle. These six will be candidates for the new Shin Bet Cyber War unit. Such recruiting techniques are nothing new but Israel has had a lot of success with this approach.

Back in 2010 Mossad used a similar technique for its new recruiting campaign. This was actually an updated version of something that had worked during World War II when the British recruited suitable new intelligence operatives by posting word puzzles in newspapers and asked those who could solve them to send their answers to a seemingly non-government address. There was actually a series of puzzles and those who managed to decode them all were asked to join. For decades after World War II few people realized that this recruiting technique identified a lot of qualified women and as a result a lot of those British spies were women, many of whom died in occupied Europe. Some of those British spies were Jewish and moved to Israel where many World War II espionage techniques were compiled by the new Israeli intelligence services and continue to show up.

Mossad used the same basic British World War II concept, with the puzzles revealing clues for what was described as a simulated espionage mission where the puzzles had to be correctly decoded and interpreted to advance. Those who completed all the puzzles were asked to apply for a job in Mossad. It was later revealed that many of those who completed the puzzle were not interested in a job in intelligence but just enjoyed solving puzzles. This apparently also happened during World War II.

Shin Bet was using the published puzzle technique not for secret agents but for specialists who would work at a keyboard to detect and thwart enemy hackers. Back in 2010 Israel used some other unique recruiting techniques for a new Cyber War unit that was actually part of military intelligence and sought recruits from those already in the military as well as civilians. Israel had long had troops dedicated to Cyber War activities, but in 2010 they introduced a new twist to this. Israel used the same screening and recruiting techniques they had developed for commando units to find suitable recruits for an elite Cyber War unit. Thus the Israelis were not just seeking men (or women) with the right technical skills, but also with the mental toughness characteristic of the regular commandos. The new Cyber War unit handled the most difficult and dangerous Cyber War situations. An example would be a Cyber War attack using an unknown and seemingly devastating new technique. For that you needed a Cyber War commando unit available to send against the problem. Same with an enemy Cyber War target that has to be disrupted, or simply investigated. You needed a unit to do the job because this unit had already been recruited and trained to be the best of the best. Similarly, if you were sending in regular commandos on a raid, to steal technology (something Israel has already done several times), several of the Cyber War commandos would go along. Already known to be tough minded, but possessing high technical skills, the Cyber War guys could keep up with the regular commandos, and quickly sort out the enemy technology, and take, or destroy, the right items.




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