GCHQ launches Cryptoy app to teach kids to evade and become spooks

App teaches how to encrypt messages — and also how fun it can be to break through security

GCHQ has launched an app to teach how to cryptography and message security to avoid snooping from organisations like themselves.

Cryptoy, which was created by students on an industrial year placement at GCHQ, was made to demonstrate encryption techniques at the Cheltenham Science Festival. It has been used at several events since, said GCHQ, and proved so popular that it decided to make it publicly available.

The app is part of GCHQ’s commitment to increase the uptake of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at schools.

As well as teaching how to encode messages, the app shows “how fun it can be to try to break the cryptographic design that someone else thought was secure”, GCHQ said.

Cryptoy is initially available Android tablets, for free. GCHQ hopes to launch it for iOS in 2015, it said.

“Building maths and cyber skills in the younger generation is essential for maintaining the cyber security of the UK and growing a vibrant digital economy,” said Robert Hannigan, GCHQ’s director. “That is why I am keen for GCHQ to give something back through its work with school and universities.”