4 September 2022

Cracking the code on Mint's new special release coin could help you score a job

| James Coleman
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50-cent coin

The uncirculated 50-cent coin celebrates 75 years of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). Photo: Royal Australian Mint.

Australia has a new coin that could make you more coins depending on whether you can crack its code.

The 50-cent coin, released on 1 September by the Royal Australian Mint, is cloaked in layers of secret code to mark the 75th anniversary of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

ASD is responsible for the country’s signals intelligence, cyber warfare and cyber security. Their cryptographic experts collaborated with the Mint to help design a coin with four unique layers of code that – if broken – contain two messages about the department’s work and history.

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All that is needed is a pen, paper, Wikipedia and a dash of brainpower.

ASD director-general Rachel Noble said there might be a job opportunity in it.

“This exciting coin release challenges Australians to engage with the sorts of problem-solving that our talented people at ASD do every day, and might even be a pointer to a new career with us for those who can crack it,” she said.

“Though some coding for the coin originated with the Roman Empire, there is remarkably still a place for them in modern intelligence.”

75 years of the Australian Signals Directorate

Can you work out what is hidden by the letters and numbers? Photo: Royal Australian Mint.

ASD has helped defend Australia from global threats since 1947. It was established by the Department of Defence to specialise in the cyberspace, providing foreign signals intelligence, cyber security and offensive cyber operations, as directed by the Australian Government.

It’s based in Canberra, at the Defence Department Headquarters at Russell Offices.

“I am immensely impressed by the people who work at ASD and this coin celebrates their work, as well as giving all Australians a glimpse of our history of protecting the nation from harm,” Ms Noble said.

The coin hides a message about ASD’s historical evolution as an organisation, combining codes thousands of years old through to modern binary code, invented during the age of computing.

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Royal Australian Mint CEO Leigh Gordon said developing the coin was a complex task as it was critical each different code was clearly identifiable.

“While the 50-cent piece is Australia’s biggest coin, it still doesn’t have a lot of surface area,” he said.

“Ensuring people could see the code to decrypt it was one of the challenges our people were able to solve with ASD, to create a unique and special product.”

The coin can be purchased through the Mint’s online sales portal for $12.50. And if you think you’ve cracked it, submit your answer on the ASD website and they’ll reveal whether it’s correct at the end of September 2022.

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?75 ???? ???????? ????? ??????? ?????? ?? ????? ???? ???? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ??? ????? ??? ??????

Well that didn’t convert well. How about: For 75 years the Australian Signals Directorate has brought together people with the skills, adaptability and imagination to operate in the slim area between the difficult and the impossible.

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