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Facebook rewards whiz kids for reporting bugs

Having become friends on Facebook to further the cause of internet security, Rishal Dwivedi (17) and Harsha Vardhan Boppana (21) will receive cash rewards from the networking site for spotting two of its vulnerabilities.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2012 00:13 IST
Ashok Das

Having become friends on Facebook to further the cause of internet security, Rishal Dwivedi (17) and Harsha Vardhan Boppana (21) will receive cash rewards from the networking site for spotting two of its vulnerabilities.


Rishal and Harsha Vardhan are two of the youngest whiz kids to win the Facebook Whitehat bug bounty programme. Their reward is $500 each.

Even before the Facebook award could sink in, Harsha Vardhan got another prestigious award, a mention in Apple Hall (Apple's rewarding system) for finding similar vulnerabilities. "Just got mail. I have been selected for Apple Hall. They will soon put my name on their website," he told HT from Guntur.

Rishal is a class 12 student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Trimulghery, a suburb of Secunderabad.

"After the class 10 examination, I started surfing the net and came to know about ethical hacking (hacking with permission). I used be very angry over the hacking of Indian sites. I wanted to do something to help secure them..," he said.

It's Facebook that brought them together. "I came to know Harsha Vardhan three years ago through Facebook. We both had a lot of interest in hacking and developed friendship," he said.

The duo detected five bugs and alerted Facebook, which accepted two of them.

"We sent a message along with technical details including the problem behind the occurrence of this security vulnerability, with a source URL of vulnerability. They took around a month for approval," Rishal said.

Rishal, whose father retired from the air force and is working in a departmental store, does not plan on joining a professional college after school.

"My dream is to open my own ethical hacking university one day."

Harsha Vardhan, whose father is a bank manager, is pursuing his final-year engineering in electronics in Guntur, 267 km south-east of Hyderabad.

He said his father was not aware he was into ethical hacking. "They just know I am doing something on my laptop."