My experience with GCHQ was that they were able to conduct better processing and anaysis than NSA at consideribly less cost. I remember one particularly difficult puzzle that I was trying to work out using the latest contactor designed programs (vapor ware) and getting nowhere. An analyst (and friend) at GCHQ managed to solve the puzzle using the back of an envelope and a stub pencil (which I accused him of stealing from his boss). Another GCHQ associate explained to me that when you don’t have the money for a lot of bells and whistles you have to actually think your way through problems. GCHQ serves as an example that effective Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) does not have to depend on a massive budget and expensive computer systems. As John Boyd pointed out its the brain that wins battles.
Go Online, Beat a Puzzle and Become a British Spy
New York Times, December 2, 2011
LONDON — Psst! Wanna be a spy?
But judging by the response to the spy agency’s puzzle, the government faces an uphill struggle, partly because in the community of hackers, government itself is uncool, if not the enemy. One hacker going by the name Ady who entered a comment on the BBC’s Web site urged the agency to “stick to employing upper-class twits from Oxford and Cambridge.” Hackers, called “hobbyists” in the post, know that “governments are not really the sort of people you want to get involved with,” Ady said.