Cyber security expert Ankit Fadia says that mobile phones, the smaller versions of computers, are vulnerable in the world of cyber crime
He lives a packed schedule — works with the Mumbai police to track emails sent by terrorists, helps the U.S. government decode encrypted messages sent by the Al Qaeda, runs his own computer security consulting company servicing clients across the globe, and participates in more than 80 seminars across schools and colleges every year to spread the word on computer security. And, he turned 25 recently.
In Bangalore for a photo shoot of Flying Machine, Ankit Fadia, the young ethical hacker is happy multi-tasking. He wrote his first book "The Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking" when he was 14. At 25, the list has got bigger at 14 books. “Computer security has been my passion. It has helped me diversify into many things such as writing books and introducing new courses,” he adds.
His one-month computer security training and certification course titled Ankit Fadia Certified Ethical Hacker programme, has already reached out to more than 15,000 people across 100 cities in India, made available through video conference at reliance outlets. He has included one year PG diplomas and two-year master programmes too. “It is offered through the Internet via video conferencing. So, anyone from home who has a computer with broadband connectivity can enrol,” the young author adds.
Ankit says technology has become an inevitable part of our lives. “Be it social networking, ATMs, online banking, we are dependant on technology.” But in computer security, there is still a long way to go. “Even computer engineering students have limited exposure when it comes to security,” he rues.
Anyone who uses the Internet for sensitive information is a potential victim of cyber crime. “Banking sector, corporate offices and even schools which use technology to set question papers and for evaluation purposes. Though we have cyber laws in place, the police are not equipped enough to handle the cases,” he says.
Awareness on cyber security at schools and colleges is the right way to begin. “Because it is the youth who spend maximum hours on the Internet. Also, when a common man gets on to the Internet, a list of dos and don'ts should be made available.”
Fadia says cell phones, the smaller versions of computers, are vulnerable too. “With 3G enabled phones, you will have faster broadband Internet and it becomes like a laptop which allows you to watch television live, make video calls, download music and movies, and also makes it easy for cyber criminals to break into it.”
“By installing spying software, the hacker can record all conversations on your cell phone and take it back to his computer or laptop. To guard your cell phone, you need to be aware to install anti-virus, firewall, to switch off blue tooth when not in use and make your cell phone password protected.”
He asks the youth to be wary of messages from friends on social networking websites too. “Avoid messages with the subject line ‘Are you there in the video?'. When you download such links, you end up becoming a victim of hacking.”
The host of MTV's “What the Hack” says the second season is going to be full of surprises. “We are going to tell the youth all the cool things they can do with computers.
For instance, we tell a guy (blocked by his girl friend) how to access her photos on social networking and at the same time give tips to the girl on getting rid of stalkers,” he smiles.
Ask the brand ambassador of Flying Machine about fashion, and he says it is comfortable dressing all the way.
“I like to dress casually in a pair of jeans and T-shirts. You look the best and confident when you dress the way you like.” There are plans to conduct live hacking demos at the Flying Machine outlets to reach out to more people. “We plan to bring in real life case studies of victims (who have been stalked) to help people from non-technology background understand the risks involved.”
The security expert is currently writing a fiction based on cyber security. “One chapter is ready. I find fiction writing challenging,” he adds.