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The Shin Bet puzzle

Thursday, 11 May, 2017

The Israeli domestic security service Shin Bet has adopted some of the recruiting techniques pioneered by the British during World War II. This became evident with the recent publication of a puzzle in the media for anyone to solve. Some 60,000 people submitted answers but only six succeeded in solving the puzzle. These six are now candidates for jobs in the new Shin Bet Cyber War unit.

Shin Bet puzzle

In the Second World War, the British recruited “Codebreakers” by posting cryptic word puzzles in newspapers and asking those who could solve them to send their answers to a seemingly innocuous address. There was a series of crosswords and those who managed to complete them all were asked to join the services. An upside of this recruiting technique was that a lot of women became British spies. Some of them were Jewish and they moved to Israel after the war and contributed their experience to the emerging Israeli intelligence services.

Interestingly, the Shin Bet agents hired via the public puzzle technique will undergo the same training that has been developed for Israeli commando units and will end up with the military skills and physical toughness typical of regular commandos. In the future, when Israel sends a unit on a raid to eliminate adversaries and acquire technology, several of Cyber War commandos might go along. These “nerds” will be able to keep pace with the regular commandos and quickly identify enemy technology. They will then take or destroy the right items and help neutralize the bad guys.

Note of caution: Many of those who completed the British puzzles during World War II were not interested in a job in intelligence but simply enjoyed doing crosswords. And, despite their innovating recruiting methods, the British ended up hiring lots of left wing traitors who went to spy for the Soviet Union. Those like Kim Philby became experts in falsifying intelligence and one of their specialties was “facelifting” the image of anti-communist movements to make sure they got more assistance from the West. These groups were then betrayed and their members turned, tortured or murdered.


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