Get, set, hack!
“I was gifted a PC when I was 12. For a year or so, video games fascinated me, till I discovered hacking. All forbidden things attract people, this was my starting point,” recalls Ankit Fadia, who hacked the website of Chip magazine when he was 15. He had uploaded his own photo and web address on the magazine’s home page.
“Later, when I sent the editor an apology, he replied back asking if I would work for them,” remembers the famous author and ethical hacker, who was in the city for the launch of his latest book, How to Unblock Everything on The Internet. But he is quick to clarify that he has never misused his skills.
websites made easy
Ankit started his own website Hacking Truths and authored his first book on ethical hacking, “An Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking” at 15 soon after his first success. Explaining the reasons for his twin acts, he explains that the shortage of reading material had prompted him to show the way for the others. The feedback he received for his
first book was such that he hasn’t looked back since. All of 26 now, he has to his credit 15 titles on ethical hacking. His latest work promises to provide more than 50 simple solutions to unblock blocked websites in schools, offices and colleges. Isn’t it illegal? Pat comes the reply: “I strongly support unblocking sites that are legal. In all major educational institutions in India, these websites are blocked.” Elaborating futher, he adds, “even if these social networking websites are blocked, students or employees access them through many other ways like on their cell phones.”
Government versus worldwide web
Notwithstanding his clarifications, How to Unblock Everything on Internet, has been attracting a lot of criticism from parents, teachers and HRs as people are now armed with a “cheat guide” __ as they call it __ to bring down firewalls from office servers. The book might even face a government ban and go off shelves, considering its favourable attitude towards Twitter and Facebook. “If they ban it, I’ll come out with an e-book. We live in a democracy, unlike China. We have to realise that free internet is an asset and there’s a lot to it than just illegal content,” defends Ankit.
Commenting on the government’s move to pre-screen content before it is posted on a website, he points out, “It is practically not possible to screen each and every detail that is being posted on social networking sites, and there is no software available that can decide if an image or a video is legal or illegal. Twitter and Facebook should be more responsible when it comes to removing objectionable content that is illegal or hurts sentiments of a region or religion.” However, he is in favour of the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills in the US which effectively block free sharing of pirated videos. “Some websites carry illegal content and cause huge loss of revenue. I do not support illegal content,” he asserts.
Ethical hacking - An unexplored avenue
Ankit Fadia has been a consultant for the Indian government and the CBI. After the 26/11 attacks, he is said to have cracked an encrypted email sent by Al-Qaeda to an intelligence agency. He is also working closely with the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad, where he delivered lectures for IPS officers and also conducted courses on cyber crimes. “My goal is to bring out talented people and create a market for ethical hackers. I tell people to hack my website and I’ll give them a job. And why not? We need a lot of such people for preventing many mishaps,” he believes. The hacker who runs a show, “What the hack!” on MTV also reveals that a reality show exclusively for hackers is in the pipeline.
Move in the pipeline
Ankit Fadia has delivered about 1,000 talks in 25 countries and has received 45 awards. He offers certification courses on Ethical Hacking, runs a consulting company and hosts his own MTV show called, “What the Hack!” He was recently chosen as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum. His website has been listed as one of the top hacking websites by the FBI. Ankit is also working on his next fiction book on hacking and security and hopes to make it into a movie too.