A GAME designed to find the next generation of spies has been launched by GCHQ in conjunction with Cyber Security Challenge.

The game, titled Astute Explorer, pits players against a group known as The Flag Day Associates, who have threatened cyber-attacks against the UK.

Participants will need to think like a GCHQ operative, using their cyber security skills to defend of a global defence company ahead of a forewarned cyber-attack.

Those who take up the challenge will be asked to identify vulnerabilities in snippets of computer code, to explain why and how they could be exploited, and finally to suggest appropriate fixes.

Those who register will be competing to book their place at the Challenge's first in a series of reconnaissance meet-ups as part of Operation: Flag Day.

Here the most impressive candidates from its virtual assignments will be asked to report for duty in person at secret locations around the UK to carry out investigations face-to-face in teams.

As well as uncovering vital clues on the objectives and identities of the Flag Day Associates, these meetings will determine the final line up for the final event next year.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge said: "Astute Explorer is an ingenious game from GCHQ which will not only provide an enjoyable challenge but will test skills that are in high demand by employers in this sector.”

"I would encourage anyone with an interest in how IT systems and the information they hold can be protected to sign up and give it a go."