Hacking's ethical side

He is all of 24. But his work and expertise speak far beyond his years. Dressed in a pair of casual tees and jeans, at first glance he looks like
any other boy next door. But that's exactly what he isn't. Meet Ankit Fadia, a well known ethical hacker, computer security expert and cyber terrorism guru!

Fadia's tryst with the cyber world began quite early in life. He wrote his first book when he was 14. Titled, the 'The Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking,' it became a bestseller worldwide, selling 3 million copies.

But what's so 'ethical' about being a hacker? His eyes light up on hearing the obvious question. "I had coined the term when I was writing my first book. The idea basically was that you have the knowledge that a criminal has but you do not misuse the information. The term wasn't widely used before this...but now it is well known," he says.

He also has to his credit cracking an encrypted email sent by the Al-Qaeda terrorist network for a classified intelligence agency after the Sept 11 attacks. Recently, he was contacted by the Navi Mumbai police after the Mumbai terror attacks to decode the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) conversation.

Currently, the cyber whizkid has his hands full. He shuttles frequently between Mumbai, Malaysia and New York advising companies, government bodies and security agencies on cyber security issues. Besides hosting a show on a popular television channel, he is working on some of his other TV concept formats. He has also devised research reports to prevent celebrity hacking. "Social networking has become immensely popular now. Celebrities are also at risk, often giving out their location specifics on status updates on these sites. This is creating problems for the police.

I have presented a report to the government and the police department on this so that awareness can be created on the issue."

And there is something lined up for kids as well in his ambitious plans. A board game, 'Hack Attack' for children aged 9 years and above is expected to be launched in the next 6 weeks. "Children nowadays are getting more exposed to technology. It is necessary to inculcate the dos and don'ts for them. They are going to love it," he says with a smile.

As we wrap up the conversation, Ankit carries forward his cyber training agenda by presenting me a book on email hacking. "It's the easiest one that I have written but let me sign it for you," he says enthusiastically.
His signature reads, "Happy Hacking."

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