Cartoon Leopards Are Reading Your Email!

by wjw on October 21, 2010

Hey, boys and girls!  Betcha didn’t know that the National Security Agency has a kids’ page online!

Yes, apparently No Such Agency, the government’s most clandestine service, has figured out that the best way to get the hackers and cryptographers of tomorrow is to hook ’em young.  (After all, it worked for J Edgar Hoover, Post Toasties, and the Junior G-Men.)

Online, you can join the trademarked CryptoKids, including the equally trademarked Crypto Cat and Decipher Dog, in various coding and code-breaking activities.  You can also learn Morse code, build coding machines at home, download coloring books, and find out about exciting career opportunities in the NSA!

The latest recruits to the CryptoKids are the CyberTwins, a pair of cartoon snow leopards whose headgear suggests that they’ve cloned your cellphone and are listening to you right now!

The site has everything but a Back button, which would make it ever so much easier to navigate.  Well, that and easy step-by-step instructions for making your computer secure against Internet intrusion, as for example by navigating the 193-regulation-long flow chart recently issued by the Pentagon.

Just another reminder from the find folks at Ft. Meade that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month . . .

Jason October 21, 2010 at 5:03 am

And all the little tykes want the Playmobil Security Check Point:

Guru Zeb October 21, 2010 at 11:11 am

OMG …. overall this English primate approves.
This is a much more inventive and nuanced approach to national security requirements than funding right wing guerillas in south America. Shipping weapons and training fundamentalist muslims who just happen to be confronting your cold war opponent.
One wonders how effective it will be long term. Back in the day junior G-men had little competition, that can’t be said of todays child media environment.

Pat Mathews October 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I remember watching Mercury Rising and thinking what a prime example of a Stupid Plot it was. If I’d been the block ops agency, instead of hunting down the kid who broke their code to silence him, I’d have offered him a full-ride scholarship to “our special school for advanced code-breaking geniuses” and then started a “Can you break this code” contest with said scholarship as the prizes.

And – I’d have told the kid’s mom that this is exactly what the code he broke had been – a contest in which he won first place.

Of course, then Bruce Willis wouldn’t have had a kid to protect from the big, bad — totally stupid — villains.

Sounds to me like I’m not the only one suggesting that – and that somebody upstairs was listening!

John Appel October 22, 2010 at 12:23 am

I live seven miles from the Ft. Meade main gate, though there are satellite NSA complexes much closer to my home near BWI. And it’s almost scary just how integrated the NSA is into the county and state secondary and higher education systems here. From internships for high school students to the Tempest-shielded buildings on the UMD campus, they’re everywhere. And of course they’re Maryland’s largest employer, especially after you count all the contractors….

(Myself, I’m a rare beast around here, an infosec guy who’s never worked for the Feds.)

Ralf the Dog October 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I hate to say it, Telling kids math is a good thing and solving complex puzzles is fun strikes me as a positive message.

Telling people the NSA is a bunch of cute animal friends that spend their time helping underprivileged kids with their homework, not so much.

If you guys will excuse me, I am next in line to get my super NSA brain implant. It makes you smarter and filters out any unauthorized input.

wjw October 23, 2010 at 3:35 am

I quite approve of the NSA’s effort, by the way, though I suspect the cartoon animals will attract an audience someone younger than the audience that can actually do the codebreaking puzzles.

Now, if they could only send me my email from 2001 to August of 2004. My copies got corrupted.

Just send it to my regular email address, guys. Thanks.

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