At first glance this strapping lad with a baby face looks just like any other boy- next-door. But if you look carefully you will find intelligence and a certain charm writ large on his countenance. Aged barely sixteen, a XI class student of Delhi Public School R.K.Puram New Delhi, Ankit Fadia has already begun hogging the limelight. As the youngest author in the Macmillan?s 108-year-old publishing annals, Ankit has created quite a sensation with his first volume 'Unofficial guide to ethical hacking'. A voracious reader and a computer whiz kid since age twelve, he has mastered the art (and science) of hacking all by himself. By the time he was fourteen, Ankit developed a website of his own (www.hackingtruths.box.sk) which aims to educate people on networking, hacking and programming related issues. The first edition of his book (5000 copies) has been a total sellout in India! Several companies who desired to utilize his savoir-faire have approached Ankit with job offers. Even security organisations including the FBI and Delhi Police (crime branch) have extended invitations to him to deliver lectures to their staff!! His second book on allied topics, also to be published by Macmillan, is in the pipeline.
Reading in media reviews about Ankit was interesting enough. My curiosity whetted, I sought an appointment with this Wonder Boy, which was promptly granted. As he ushered me into his middle class but comfortable sitting room, I paused to wonder how most brainy people spring from the obscurest of homes. Once we began the conversation, the lad was quite forthcoming and brimming with enthusiasm.
Excerpts from the interview:
The title of your book is a trifle controversial. What is your basic idea behind it?
Well, What I basically wanted to do was to remove the doubts, myths and misconceptions revolving around the term hacking. Actually there are two operations involved ?hacking and cracking. Hacking is what the good guys do, enter into other people?s sites and finally devise ways and means as to how to save those sites from external onslaughts. Cracking is what the bad ones do-erase materials from websites tamper with the content, inject a virus and so forth?Cracking can be clubbed under criminal activities. Anyway, the publishers selected the title of the book.
What has been the feedback?
I feel the feedback has been excellent.
What is your impression about your book?
Till date the other books dealt with the subject only up to a certain level. They did not teach you how to stop cracking. My book goes beyond that. One, it teaches you how to hack and to crack and two, how to counter the attacks and nab the criminals. But in order to do that, the book has to enumerate the A to Z of hacking and cracking. It is just like the formula of a bomb. In order to detonate it and prevent explosion you must first know how a bomb is made.
But the criminal/s might be in some remote part of the world. How will you trace them?
By using techniques like Soft well and Fire Wall, one can detect the IP addresses of the miscreants and filter them out. After this they can no longer access to that particular website.
What are the salient features of your book?
Well, for one the book is written in a language the teenagers are rather familiar with. So nobody will have any problem reading and understanding it. Secondly, you do not have to be an IT technologist or master to be able to understand that book. Only thing you need to know is how to send and receive e-mails
Don?t you think your book will encourage cracking?
That?s true. But you can fight a cracker only when you know exactly what to do. It is just like fighting fire with fire or evil with evil. In order to fight criminals we must know how they actually function. What I have tried to uphold is that hacking is the positive side and cracking is the negative side of the same activity.
Success has come to you early in life. How do you feel about it?
I feel very happy. I thank God for the good luck I have had. But I have a nagging fear as to what would have happened in case my efforts had gone in vain.
What are your hobbies?
I love listening to music, the Latino, Rock varieties. Besides I love to play cricket. I also love to hang out with my friends.
What do you feel about the future of IT in India?
Right now there is a slump, but I think IT industry in India is going to be revived. In the USA, IT has been a great success. Newer vistas are opening up. And whatever happens in USA ultimately penetrates into India. So I think good times are ahead.
(As told to Ruchira Ghosh)