‘Ethical hacking is a booming industry’

May 7th, 2010 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 7 (IANS) Cyber security expert Ankit Fadia, who prefers to call himself an “ethical hacker”, believes every institution needs trained hands to ensure foolproof safety for their systems and this industry can offer huge job opportunities. Fadia, 24, who has a bachelors degree in computer science from Stanford University in California, runs a consulting company called e-secure in Mumbai.

“In this hi-tech era when everyone is on one or the other social networking site and everything is available online, we cannot take internet security for granted. Even our politicians and celebrities are not safe on the internet and in some cases it can also pose a serious national security threat,” Fadia told IANS here.

“Therefore we have to take steps by disseminating knowledge about these hackers and about ways to pre-empt them. In the 21st century, we surely need a strong workforce of ethical hackers and we cannot afford to ignore it at any cost.”

An ethical hacker is an expert in computer securities and network systems, and is hired to check the vulnerability of an organisation’s computer system to an outside breach or hacking.

He uses the same techniques that an unscrupulous hacker may apply. He then identifies the problems or loopholes in the system and drafts a solution for it.

“Hackers are seeing India as an easy target because we are not paying much heed to this area as compared to other countries like China. In India we have good cyber laws but normally people are not aware about them and easily fall victims to cyber attacks.

“Unfortunately our police personnel are also not conversant with the required skills,” said Fadia, who has been consulted by the US authorities to decode an encrypted e-mail sent by associates of Osama bin Laden.

He said the industry of ethical hacking is growing at a tremendous pace and offers a plethora of lucrative job opportunities for youngsters.

Last year it was estimated to be a $3.8 billion industry in the US alone.

“According to Nasscom findings, India will require at least 77,000 ethical hackers every year whereas at the moment we are producing only 15,000 in a year. Therefore it is still an unexplored field,” Fadia said.

For Fadia it was a hobby to learn hacking, which has now transformed into full-time career. He started learning hacking on his own, through internet, when he was only 12 and at the age of 13 he had hacked the website of Chip magazine.

“I had changed the home page of Chip magazine. But I was afraid that it could land me in jail; therefore I immediately sent a mail to the magazine editor and told him how prone his website was to hacking and I also provided him a solution for it,” said Fadia.

“He was so impressed that he offered me a job. But when I told him that I was just 13, he said that he would wait for five years before hiring me,” he said.

To educate people about the intricacies of hacking and to prevent their websites and e-mail accounts from being hacked, Fadia is also running a computer security training and certification course called ‘Ankit Fadia Certified Ethical Hacker Programme’

“Over the last three years, we have trained nearly 20,000 people in China and South Asia and our students have been placed in top companies like Infosys and Wipro. We will also conduct classes in Punjab in July. The idea is to familiarise more people with ethical hacking,” said Fadia.

Fadia is consultant on cyber security with various companies, government bodies and security agencies both in India and abroad.

“In 2001, the US government had consulted me for decoding an encrypted e-mail sent by some associates of Osama bin Laden. I had also assisted the ATS (Anti Terrorist Squad) men, to ascertain the origin of different mails and messages after the Mumbai terror attacks,” said Fadia.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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