Spies & Spying Personality Profiling: Cryptologists

From The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.

Cryptologists are highly specialized and are responsible for developing encryption methods to ensure communications and stores of data are secure and not vulnerable to hostile electronic attack.

They also analyze the crypt used by other governments and organizations with a view to breaking it. 

There are many commercial companies that provide sophisticated encryption services, but larger nations have their own Cryptologists who develop their own custom-built encryption software.

Benedict Cumberbatch (center) stars as British cryptologist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch (center) stars as British Cryptologist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game


Spies & Spying: Psychological profile notes on Cryptologists

Like Hackers, Cryptologists are usually very intelligent individuals with expertise in math, computer science, and physics. They need to be highly logical and good at deduction. Many love games like bridge, chess, and computer games of all sorts.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing was key to cracking the Enigma ciphers in WWII

The assessment of people to ensure a perfect fit

We summarize below the main skills and qualities which recruiters will look for in their assessment of potential intelligence officers. 

Intellectual horsepower

Not everyone in an organization needs to be super clever; they do however need to be ‘bright enough’. There are different kinds of intellect that are required in an intelligence service: 

  • Intellectual and cognitive capacity (IQ): an individual’s efficiency at information processing and storage. It predicts how quickly and efficiently they learn. People can be taught skills but there is not much people can do to improve their intelligence.
  • Analytical: the ability to identify relationships and patterns from information and data. 
  • Numeric or deductive ability: this relates to those posts which demand a strong mathematical or scientific approach to their work.

Personality - is about preferred ways of doing things and seeing the world. Intelligence officers cannot change their personalities but they can learn to change their behaviors. Different roles require different personality traits. Recruiters will want to assess the following:

Stability/resilience/composure - an ability to withstand stressful external stimuli without psychological hindrance. All roles involve pressure, some more than others. It is important that people do not buckle under pressure and make bad decisions.

Openness/inquisitiveness - open to experience and embrace the new and the different. They are less fazed by unusual or different places, people, or ways of doing things. Inquisitiveness is about an individual’s ability to innovate and be curious when presented with intelligence from an existing source or a new source. 

Sociability/extraversion - value social interaction and a preference to work in groups and as part of a team. Introverts value independence, preferring to work alone, or in an insular manner.

Risk-taking preferences - central to intelligence roles is the concept of risk. While all risks are thoroughly analyzed, understood, and (as much as possible) mitigated, intelligence roles require that people take risks. We split risk into two distinct parts:

  • ‘Hot’ Risk - risk where decisions have immediate (and potentially dangerous) consequences. This represents a person's willingness to engage in missions that are physically stimulating/frightening. 
  • Cold’ Risk - risk where decisions have effects that are distant and in the future. This represents a person’s willingness to make strategic decisions based on intelligence or challenge existing intelligence in favor of a different strategy. It is calculated, planned, and strategic. 

Drive/conscientiousness/work ethic - this trait assesses the level of self-motivation, organization, and drive within an individual. A conscientious person is organized, reliable, and responsible.

Integrity/honesty - an individual’s ‘moral compass’. It focuses on whether the individual is manipulative, callous, and devious or whether they have an ethical sense and moral backbone. This is one of the most important traits in the spying world, famous for its intrigues and falsehoods. It is vitally important that insiders can trust their colleagues.

Skills

Skills can be taught - people can learn to do better. Inevitably an individual’s intellect and personality tend to dictate both what skills they initially have and how efficiently they learn further or higher skills.

Interpersonal skills - the ability to cultivate and maintain relationships. Certain jobs specify a need for strong social skills, not only to gather information but also to operate with others.

Observational skills - the ability to observe and follow targets. Certain roles have a need to be aware of their surroundings.

Physical ability - some roles require more than average physical fitness.

Leadership - leadership is relevant primarily for the Spymaster and for those who have to lead groups. It needs to encompass strategic ability, ambition, and a willingness to delegate. The desirable qualities of a leader are much debated. 

Excerpt courtesy of The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.

Spies & Spying Personality Profiling: Cryptologists

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From The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.

Cryptologists are highly specialized and are responsible for developing encryption methods to ensure communications and stores of data are secure and not vulnerable to hostile electronic attack.

They also analyze the crypt used by other governments and organizations with a view to breaking it. 

There are many commercial companies that provide sophisticated encryption services, but larger nations have their own Cryptologists who develop their own custom-built encryption software.

Benedict Cumberbatch (center) stars as British cryptologist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch (center) stars as British Cryptologist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game


Spies & Spying: Psychological profile notes on Cryptologists

Like Hackers, Cryptologists are usually very intelligent individuals with expertise in math, computer science, and physics. They need to be highly logical and good at deduction. Many love games like bridge, chess, and computer games of all sorts.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing was key to cracking the Enigma ciphers in WWII
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Spies & Spying: Puzzles and podcasts


Can you solve these 10 real-life spy puzzles like Canada’s CSEC Cyber-Dyner?
Can you solve these 10 real-life spy puzzles like Canada’s CSEC Cyber-Dyner?


They also have to be diligent, careful, and reliable. The good ones are known to be scrupulously accurate and precise in all their actions. Most, however, are rather introverted and not particularly socially skilled; but then they do not have to be; most are loners in their work and social life which is fine.

Listen to two real-life cryptologists on our SPYSCAPE True Spies Podcast: Sister Spies
Listen to two real-life cryptologists on our SPYSCAPE True Spies Podcast: Sister Spies


Spies & Spying: Cryptologist essentials

The three essentials for a Cryptologist are:

The three essentials for a cryptologist ‍rom The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.

Herbert O. Yardley: 007 creator Ian Fleming wrote a preface to Yardley’s bestselling book on poker
Herbert O. Yardley: 007 creator Ian Fleming wrote a preface to Yardley’s bestselling book on poker

Spies & Spying: Real-life Cryptologists

One of the great Cryptologists was Herbert O. Yardley, an American who developed crypt at the beginning of the 20th century. 

The 2010 Encyclopedic Guide to the National Security Agency provides a wealth of information on the subject.

Can you solve our SPYSCAPE Codebreaker Puzzles?
Can you solve our SPYSCAPE Codebreaker Puzzles?

Excerpt courtesy of The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.

SPYCHOLOGY
You can try the SPYCHOLOGY personality element online


SPYCHOLOGY

Your personalized SPYCHOLOGY profile is based on a series of challenges available exclusively at SPYSCAPE HQ and included free in the price of admission. While the complete SPYCHOLOGY experience is only available at our HQ in New York City you can try the personality element online.

The assessment of people to ensure a perfect fit

We summarize below the main skills and qualities which recruiters will look for in their assessment of potential intelligence officers. 

Intellectual horsepower

Not everyone in an organization needs to be super clever; they do however need to be ‘bright enough’. There are different kinds of intellect that are required in an intelligence service: 

  • Intellectual and cognitive capacity (IQ): an individual’s efficiency at information processing and storage. It predicts how quickly and efficiently they learn. People can be taught skills but there is not much people can do to improve their intelligence.
  • Analytical: the ability to identify relationships and patterns from information and data. 
  • Numeric or deductive ability: this relates to those posts which demand a strong mathematical or scientific approach to their work.

Personality - is about preferred ways of doing things and seeing the world. Intelligence officers cannot change their personalities but they can learn to change their behaviors. Different roles require different personality traits. Recruiters will want to assess the following:

Stability/resilience/composure - an ability to withstand stressful external stimuli without psychological hindrance. All roles involve pressure, some more than others. It is important that people do not buckle under pressure and make bad decisions.

Openness/inquisitiveness - open to experience and embrace the new and the different. They are less fazed by unusual or different places, people, or ways of doing things. Inquisitiveness is about an individual’s ability to innovate and be curious when presented with intelligence from an existing source or a new source. 

Sociability/extraversion - value social interaction and a preference to work in groups and as part of a team. Introverts value independence, preferring to work alone, or in an insular manner.

Risk-taking preferences - central to intelligence roles is the concept of risk. While all risks are thoroughly analyzed, understood, and (as much as possible) mitigated, intelligence roles require that people take risks. We split risk into two distinct parts:

  • ‘Hot’ Risk - risk where decisions have immediate (and potentially dangerous) consequences. This represents a person's willingness to engage in missions that are physically stimulating/frightening. 
  • Cold’ Risk - risk where decisions have effects that are distant and in the future. This represents a person’s willingness to make strategic decisions based on intelligence or challenge existing intelligence in favor of a different strategy. It is calculated, planned, and strategic. 

Drive/conscientiousness/work ethic - this trait assesses the level of self-motivation, organization, and drive within an individual. A conscientious person is organized, reliable, and responsible.

Integrity/honesty - an individual’s ‘moral compass’. It focuses on whether the individual is manipulative, callous, and devious or whether they have an ethical sense and moral backbone. This is one of the most important traits in the spying world, famous for its intrigues and falsehoods. It is vitally important that insiders can trust their colleagues.

Skills

Skills can be taught - people can learn to do better. Inevitably an individual’s intellect and personality tend to dictate both what skills they initially have and how efficiently they learn further or higher skills.

Interpersonal skills - the ability to cultivate and maintain relationships. Certain jobs specify a need for strong social skills, not only to gather information but also to operate with others.

Observational skills - the ability to observe and follow targets. Certain roles have a need to be aware of their surroundings.

Physical ability - some roles require more than average physical fitness.

Leadership - leadership is relevant primarily for the Spymaster and for those who have to lead groups. It needs to encompass strategic ability, ambition, and a willingness to delegate. The desirable qualities of a leader are much debated. 

Excerpt courtesy of The Psychology of Spies and Spying by Adrian Furnham and John Taylor.
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