Just 18 but hacker whiz-kid can counter Net criminals
Source: The Straits Times
By Ho Ka Wei
Date: August 05, 2003
'Cybercriminals are always two steps ahead. You need to mingle with them, get their information and use it to protect yourself. -- Mr Ankit Fadia, 18, who published his first book, The Unofficial Guide To Ethical Hacking, at age 14
FOR Indian whiz-kid Ankit Fadia, being a hacker puts him squarely on the side of the good guys.
To the digital intelligence consultant, who is just 18, there is nothing wrong with being a hacker as his role is to protect systems by finding and fixing vulnerabilities.
The dangerous folk are 'crackers' or 'black hats', who have malicious purposes.
He admits, however, that a fine line exists between hackers and crackers.
Stanford's Centre for Internet and Society's director Jennifer Granick told The Straits Times: 'This is an ongoing debate in the community. In short, the information that enables people to exploit vulnerabilities is almost identical to the information that enables people to fix them.
'The question remains as to how and in what format to release information to best promote computer security.'
Mr Fadia, who was in Singapore recently to deliver a lecture titled Cyberterrorism: New Challenges And Responses at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, knows quite a bit about hacking.
He has written three books on hacking and network security and has delivered lectures to hundreds in the field.
Next month, he will be at Stanford University to study computer science.
He says the Internet is the best learning ground for all you need to know about hacking, adding that he has picked up most of what he knows about computer security online.
The expert on cybersecurity has a simple approach to computer crime: The criminals are always two steps ahead, and to protect themselves from attacks, users have to think like them.
More than 40 IT specialists from various government agencies such as the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the Defence Science Organisation and the Ministry of Home Affairs listened intently as he spoke for two hours.
'Pure cyberterror attacks are not as likely as partial cyberterror attacks,' said Mr Fadia, who defined cyberterrorism as the convergence of terrorism and the Internet.
Terrorists have not used the Web to cripple critical infrastructure like power grids or train lines, but have largely gone online to communicate, commit credit-card fraud and even book airline tickets, he explained.
'But new loopholes are discovered daily, and defensive and offensive measures are needed.'
Defensive measures include ensuring that your firewalls hold up, while offensive measures require one to 'attack the attacker first before he strikes' - this is where 'ethical hackers' like Mr Fadia come in.
Mr Fadia, who first learnt about hackers' activities at age 12, said he has plans to settle in Singapore after his education, as it is an 'IT hub of Asia'.
He published his first book, The Unofficial Guide To Ethical Hacking, at age 14.
He said more trained IT security personnel are needed because 'software, in the end, is not very intelligent - humans are always more intelligent'.
'Cybercriminals are always two steps ahead. You need to mingle with them, get their information and use it to protect yourself.
'If that is what you do, then believe me, you can be protected.'
Original article: http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/techscience/story/0,4386,203184,00.html
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