Cryptoy - Code-Making App From GCHQ
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 12 December 2014

The UK's national security agency, GCHQ, has launched an Android app that lets you explore codes and cryptography. It is intended to inspire school students to be interested in STEM subjects.


GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) is of the opinion that it is critical that UK builds a knowledge base of cyber security skills and the learning about encryption is key to this. It previously set a cryptography challenge as part of a recruitment drive for would be spies. Now it has come up with an app that should ensure more suitably qualified candidates next time around.




The free app, called Cryptoy is intended to be both fun and educational. It is specifically directed at Key Stage 4 students (14-16 year - olds) but can be used by anyone interested in learning about, or teaching, cryptography. 

As indicated in this video, it looks at the historical background to the use of ciphers and keys, and enables you to create your own encrypted messages using four encryption techniques: 

  • Shift
  • Substitution
  • Vigenère
  • Enigma 


The app was designed by students on an industrial year placement at GCHQ as part of a project to demonstrate encryption techniques at the Cheltenham Science Festival. The app proved to be a hit, and GCHQ decided to make it publicly available in response requests for from teachers who wanted to use it in the classroom.

The director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan 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. That is why I am keen for GCHQ to give something back through its work with school and universities. 

Cryptoy currently runs only on Android and can be downloaded from the Google Play store. An iPad version is planned for 2015. 



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Last Updated ( Friday, 12 December 2014 )