When 25-year-old Ankit Fadia and his team came on board the investigations after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Pakistan-trained terrorists’ cover was blown. Until then, the cyber cell of Mumbai Police was on a wild goose chase.
“Investigations showed that the [terror-related] e-mails were sent from Russia and Saudi Arabia,” says Fadia, the youngest ‘ethical hacker’ this generation has known and now an MTV Youth Icon, 2008. “But we traced that the terrorists were actually sitting in Pakistan and using proxy servers of these countries to hide their identity.”
In Delhi to educate top CEOs — mostly more than twice his age — about cyber security, Fadia sums up, “The next attack on a country’s sovereignty is not going to be with an AK-47, but through the Internet.”
Awareness is pretty dismal, he has to admit, mentioning an instance while he was attending a training seminar for the Delhi Police. “One of the first questions an inspector asked me after the seminar was over was, ‘Yeh Internet ki building kidhar hai?’ For him, Internet meant a huge building of some sort that they need to protect with laathis,” quips Ankit. “And this is the nation’s Capital!”
Delhi boy Fadia — he moved to Mumbai only four years go — is currently basking in the glory of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Anil Ambani, Shah Rukh Khan and MS Dhoni. “Well, being an MTV Youth Icon is special, more so because it shows that India is waking up to the serious issue of cyber security,” says Fadia, whose personal icon has always been Sachin Tendulkar.
He is not averse to the glamour that an MTV award brings. “Yeah, you could say my life is pretty glamorous now,” smiles Fadia, who will be seen in a music video for Chennai-based rapper Blaaze.
A free man
While “quite comfortably” successful, Fadia is free for Valentine’s Day. “It’s not that I haven’t come across interesting people, especially in MTV, but I’m still single,” says this Katrina Kaif admirer. Many girls have tried breaching the ‘security firewall’ to his heart, and some succeeded for a while, but to keep Fadia hooked, a girl “should be good at conversations”.
Cyber security consulting, music video, travelling, writing books… next is what? “Oh, I’ll open a Mexican restaurant and a Gujarati fast food joint,” he replies. Any tips to those fascinated by hacking? “Think like a criminal, but keep your ethics intact,” advises the guy who hacked into the website of an IT magazine and placed his face on its homepage… when he was 13!