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Internet puzzle 'could lead to recruitment'

8 January 2014 Last updated at 11:24 GMT

A new version of Cicada 3301 - a complex collection of anonymously-set puzzles - has begun.

This is the third instalment of the puzzle, which sees people working together across the internet to collaborate and crowd-source solutions.

Past puzzles have required knowledge of author and occultist Aleister Crowley, paintings by William Blake and Mayan numerals.

Kenny Paterson, a professor of cryptography at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the Today programme's Sarah Montague that although it is not known who is behind the puzzles, they "clearly have a very broad knowledge across a whole bunch of different aspects of computer science, mathematics, cryptology and steganography".

Prof Paterson said he believes the puzzle is part of a "recruitment" process.

"There have been several such competitions in the past. Google used to post puzzles on billboards beside the highway in Silicon Valley as a way to attract really smart people to come and work for them," he added.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday 8 January 2014.

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