While most of his peers were busy slaving away all day creating software programmes, it was breaking into them that interested Mavelikkara-native Rahul Sasi. And, rightfully this 26-year-old man, who didn’t bother to waste time getting an engineering degree, is one among the counted ethical hackers in India.
Today, Rahul has presented research papers at all prestigious hackers’ conferences across the world and has helped the government and many institutions find and fix the ‘bug’ in their websites.
His moment of fame - not to mention the ‘big bounty’ - came when the government announced him as the ethical hacker who helped the Indian Government track down the hackers who plundered data from major official departments last February.
Like many others who made it big in the humongous world of information technology, Rahul too took an unconventional path to success. Being the impatient learner, he found no meaning in wasting time in engineering classes mugging up lessons that he thought could serve him no help. “Though I sat through all the four years, I didn’t bother to go back to complete the course. It served no purpose in what I wanted to be,” says Rahul, who has authored multiple security tools, advisories and articles.
Even then, it was ‘bypassing’ and ‘computer security’ that interested him. “Right after college, I was offered a position to monitor computer security aspects in a firm. This time, I plunged into research on security-related topics and brought out a few papers. My major activities were finding and fixing bugs, especially in Interactive Voice Response softwares of banks, that are very vulnerable to hacking. I spend the whole of 2010 for such activities,” says Rahul, a member of global community garage4hackers.com.
By 2011, Rahul was a known ethical hacker. He was approached by various government agencies to find and fix the bugs in their softwares besides nailing blackhat hackers. Rahul, then, began to foray into malware (malicious software used to disrupt computer operation) research.
“These were mainly government-funded. My job was to research on malware and zero in on groups behind them,” says Rahul, who is associated with one of the world’s leading IT companies today.
So, despite everything ‘ethical’ about hacking, isn’t there privacy invasion in ethical hacking?
“There is no question of getting into anybody’s account. Even while working for google, we were in a controlled-environment. Hackers will have test mails,” says Rahul.
Rahul rues that not many are aware of the job prospects of hacking - both its moral and lucrative side.
“We are short of professionals when it comes to ethical hacking. It has been listed as one of the top 5 paying jobs. In our scenario, a professional hacker can very well make `4-`6 lakh per month. But, there is no textbook course to learn hacking. One needs to update computer languages and spend hours in Internet learning the nuances of hacking and sharpening his skill. And, of course there is no degree or diploma in hacking,” says Rahul adding that one should develop one’s own skill.
Rahul has presented papers at many international hackers’ conferences in over 11 countries, including the prestigious BlackHat held in US and Ruxcon Meet in Australia.
He is also a permanent speaker at CoCon, an annual event conducted by Kerala Police and ISRA as part of the International Information Security Day.
Besides, Rahul has also presented research papers at Nullcon Conference held every year in Goa.
Presently, he is working on hacking and securing digitised cable TV networks. “The current research will enable me to interfere with TV programmes and channels, including swapping them. I am doing a presentation of my research at Nullcon International conference on February 14 and hope to present an advanced version of the same on another meet to be held in Europe some time later,” says Rahul.