A cool new 50 cent coin allows you to crack a Cold War-style code in honour of Australia's spy agency

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale. Photo: Getty Images
  • The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has teamed up with the Royal Australian Mint to release their first ever coin featuring a secret code.
  • The coin was released in commemoration of ASIO’s 70th anniversary this year.
  • It features a unique code similar to those used by operatives during the Cold War.

In honour of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) 70th anniversary this year, the Royal Australian Mint has released its first ever coin featuring a secret code.

The 50 cent coin features a unique ‘one-time pad’ key – similar to those used by operatives during the Cold War – to encrypt and decode secret messages. And you have the chance to solve it.

As part of the 70th anniversary celebrations, The Mint also launched a ‘coincryption’ competition for those who crack the code on their coins.

Once you crack the code, you have to enter it into the competition website. You will enter the draw to win the only proof commemorative coin that exists featuring the ASIO coin design.

The coin celebrates 70 years of ASIO.

A proof coin refers to the way a coin is manufactured, rather than its condition or grade, according to The Mint. It is a carefully struck coin with frosted images on a mirror-like background.

The coin was designed as part of the broader ‘spies and spooks’ theme and released on Monday. It retails for A$10 and there are only 20,000 available.

ASIO’s outgoing Director-General of Security Duncan Lewis said in a statement, “Spooks and spies is an intriguing theme and often the stuff of novels and film. It is exciting to see this theme interpreted in such a creative and enduring way.

“2019 is a milestone year for ASIO offering a natural point of reflection, to commemorate our history, and celebrate our success, our people and our culture — it marks 70 years of ASIO’s service protecting Australia and Australians.

“As ASIO’s thirteenth Director-General of Security, I am immensely proud to have led an organisation of such calibre.”

Lewis announced his retirement in July and will be replaced by Mike Burgess, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

ASIO was established in 1949 during the post-World War 2 era and has since worked on countering terrorism, espionage and security threats in Australia.

During the 1940s and 50s, the Soviet intelligence service, the KGB used one-time pads to encrypt their cables to and from Moscow. Poor encryption practices allowed the 5-EYES allies (which included the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to decrypt some of the cables under Operation Venona, revealing the presence of a Soviet spy ring in Australia.

The revelation led the UK to urge Australia to establish a security service and thus, ASIO was born.

So what are you waiting for, the code isn’t going to solve itself.

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