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Home » Hacking News » Highlighting an 'ethical hacker'

Highlighting an 'ethical hacker'

by Nikola Strahija on October 16th, 2002 Companies should bolster their computer network security by hiring hackers, said Ankit Fadia, a 17-year-old who is a popular “ethical hacker” from India. Hiring an ethical hacker to protect a network from being hacked or broken into is akin to fighting fire with fire or evil with evil, said Fadia, who has provided consultancy services to India’s intelligence agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).


“Ethical hackers can help plug security loopholes normally overlooked by system administrators, and they can routinely test a network for weakness,” he said.

“Employing ethical hackers to protect computer networks is becoming a common practice in the United States but it is not often seen in other countries,” he said.

Fadia was here as a speaker at Hack 2002 Malaysia, the largest network security event in Asia, according to its organiser, Singapore-based Key Media Pte Ltd. The three-day conference also featured speakers from Symantec, Ernst & Young and Sensecurity Institute.

He explained that ethical hackers are people who test the vulnerabilities of a network and report the vulnerabilities if any are found. Those who cause harm when a vulnerability is found are known as crackers, he said.

If a company does not wish to hire ethical hackers on a permanent basis, they can always hire them to attempt a break-in when new security products are installed, he said. “If the hackers are successful in their hacking attempt, they can produce a security assessment report that uncovers the vulnerabilities.”

Fadia was put in the limelight when he wrote The Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking, which sold 5,000 copies online before it even hit the bookshelves.

He wrote the book when he was 14 and is the youngest author in Macmillan India’s 110 years of publishing history. He only took 15 days to complete the book, which delves into various hacking techniques and tools available to the hacker.

Fadia is currently a part time employee as an intelligence consultant to an agency he declined to name and is still studying in Delhi Public School.

However, hiring a hacker won’t be cheap and would probably cost more than twice the salary of a system administrator, he said.

How to be a hacker

Anybody with an average IQ can become a hacker but they would need to read a lot and keep updating themselves on the latest developments in computer technology, Fadia said.

Before attempting any hacking, one should be familiar with at least one programming language, preferably the popular object-oriented programming language, C++.

Would-be-hackers should also have a thorough understanding of how networks function and have working knowledge of the Unix operating system, he said.

“The best way a person can start hacking is by first setting up his or her own network and then to try to break into their own network,” said Fadia.

“Once they successfully break-in, they can plug the loophole and attempt the process over and over again.”

But to be a really skilled hacker, you have to learn to cover your tracks when you hack and must not leave any trace after a successful hacking. “The hacker should be able to clean up after himself by removing any evidences in places like log files,” Fadia said.

Fadia said he took-up hacking because of the the attraction of doing something forbidden. Now he continues to hack because he finds it fascinating.

In the pipeline is Fadia’s next book, Network Security: A Hacker’s Perspective, which will introduce more advanced hacking techniques and tools.

Fadia plans to become a full time consultant to the intelligence agency he is currently working with when he leaves school.

But he has another ambition – he hopes that he will be able to progress from writing non-fiction books to fiction books, such as the ones written by Sydney Sheldon, someday. “These books won’t be about hacking but about spies and secret agents,” Fadia added.

His tutorial on hacking can be found at his website, Hacking Truths, at www.ankitfadia.com.


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