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2020 NSA Codebreaker Challenge

October 8, 2020 - January 10, 2021

NSA Codebreaker Challenge 2020 – IT’S HERE!

The first part of the 2020 challenge starts at noon (EDT) on October 8th 2020, with more to follow in the coming months!

Register now. You can read more on the Challenge Page.


The 2020 Codebreaker Challenge consists of a series of tasks that are worth a varying amount of points based upon their difficulty. This year, NSA is releasing the challenge in multiple phases. All Phase 1 tasks will become available immediately once the Challenge goes live and can be solved in any order, though there may be some dependencies between tasks. NSA will post updates about Phase 2 in the weeks to come. The point value associated with each task is based on relative difficulty and schools will be ranked according to the total number of points accumulated by their students. It is still recommended to solve tasks in order since the tasks flow with the storyline, but that is not a requirement. Solutions may be submitted at any time for the duration of the Challenge.


DISCLAIMER – The following is a FICTITIOUS story meant for providing realistic context for the Codebreaker Challenge and is not tied in any way to actual events.

Two days ago, a renowned American journalist went missing while on assignment abroad. Although the city where the journalist was last seen has very few surveillance cameras on its streets, local authorities were able to provide us with some surveillance footage taken near the journalist’s hotel during the days leading up to the disappearance. From the footage, we see that the journalist was kidnapped from the front of their hotel and taken away in an unmarked van. Unfortunately, we can also observe the kidnappers destroying the journalist’s mobile phone making it impossible to track their route via GPS. Locals have also reported drone activity in the area leading up to the event. A criminal organization, well known for using drones in their kidnap-for-ransom schemes, has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Your mission is to:

  1. Locate the missing journalist and hostage takers’ current position.
  2. Facilitate the recovery of the journalist and take actions to prevent another incident from happening.

Each task in this year’s challenge will require a range of skills. We need you to call upon all of your technical expertise, your intuition, and your common sense to help us locate and rescue the journalist!

Good luck. We hope you enjoy the challenge!

Register now.


October 8, 2020
January 10, 2021