In the widest possible interpretation, this job ad (now removed) could be UK government bureaucratic-speak for an operations efficiency expert (zzzzzz), but a closer look at the text — for the UK’s “Secret Intelligence Service” seeking a “Target Elimination Specialist” — and it looks like someone has managed to post a spoof employment opportunity on DirectGov, the UK government’s official online interface with the public.
To be clear, this does not appear to be a full hack of the site. Government sites get shut down time and again by hackers, for example by worming their way through firewalls or via DDoS attacks. Today’s oddity could be someone’s idea of a joke, or a warning that the system is not exactly secure.
Reader Ryan Kennedy, CEO at back-up storage providers Flirble, points out that, in fact, it’s “pretty easy” to post whatever job you want on the site. “Sign up as an employer to use Universal Jobmatch and you can then post jobs,” he says. Not exactly watertight measures, then.
We are reaching out to Gov.uk to ask what is going on, and are looking to see whether anything else was affected.
Update: A spokesperson did not explain what happened but offered the following statement: “It is disappointing that somebody would want to post a false advert when people are looking for real jobs. It has now been removed.”
So far, no one is claiming responsibility as the page makes its way through the viral Twitterverse.
Groups like Anonymous — or people who connect themselves to them, at least — have in the past been linked with government site takedowns in connection with protests over other issues, such as SOPA, Wikileaks and more.
We’ll update this post as we learn more. Here’s the text of the post:
“From time to time the UK government has a need to remove people whose continued existence poses a risk to the effective conduct of public order. So we require particularly skilled professionals who are prepared to work on a non-attributable basis to deal with these problems.
The role will involve international travel to a number of countries where individuals need to be removed.
The ideal candidate will need to have no particular distinguishing features so as to blend in and be able to take on new identities as required. They will need to be resourceful in finding ways to accomplish their missions and, in some cases, to leave foreign countries by non-conventional means. The role would suit candidates with prior military experience, particularly in the use of sniper rifles.
The job holder will receive all necessary equipment, including passports, special watches, jet packs, mini-submarines and a Walther PPK.
This role is particularly appropriate for those who like their martinis shaken and not stirred.
To apply for this role, please express your interest somewhere in the vicinity of the large and rather fake-looking rock in Regent’s Park.”