Indian origin cyber expert Ankit Fadia aims at stretching technology limits

Aug 16 2013, 13:17 IST
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SummaryFadia is the youngest author published by Macmillan at the age of 14.

Cyber security expert Ankit Fadia says his new take on technology is a far cry from what he previously wrote - books loaded with jargon and niche appeal.

Fadia's new book, a 312-pager titled "Faster: 100 ways to improve your digital life", published by Penguin is the 15th book, penned by the 28-year-old Stanford graduate.

The book aims at "stretching the limits of technology", as he puts it.

"Technology can be used for different things, to tackle with different things, by different people to make their lives faster and better," Fadia told PTI in a telephonic interview from Bangalore.

His recent book contains tips and tricks to enable a user get the most out of his digital devices and applications used at home and at work. The book also contains examples as well as screenshots.

"The idea had been there for a while. But I finally started working on it from October last year to January this year", says Fadia, who has written 14 books on issues related to cyber security.

Faced with the ever-changing technology, Fadia also has a top shot plan to keep his book relevant.

"Before the book went into print, we had to remove portions because of this issue as the technology had changed. To address this issue, we plan to come up with a new edition of the book every nine months as compared to my other books, editions of which come usually every 2 years", says Fadia.

Divided into four parts, the book details a hundred ways to solve problems like fun-based 'How to get fake incoming call to get out of sticky situations' to functionality-based 'How to type faster on a touchscreen Android device', 'How to extend your mobile phone's battery life' or 'How to catch a cheating partner red-handed'!

Most of these tricks, however, require an internet connectivity to either access certain recommended websites or to download and install applications.

"The idea is based on the assumption that you are connected. I remember that when my mother got a smartphone, she wanted to explore the device a lot more but resisted as she was apprehensive of what she might press and get into. The book helps you guide in a similar exploration of your digital device", says Fadia.

While hosting the 'What the Hack', a TV show that dealt with similar situations, Fadia says he got the idea to pen down the solutions and tricks for technology buffs.

His 'Geek On The Loose' video log on YouTube is also based on a similar concept where he has demonstrated some of the situations mentioned in the book.

Ankit Fadia says insists his new book is for a 'curious' layman and differs from his earlier books that focused on technical aspects and dealt more with hacking issues.

The Delhi boy who previously shuttled between the US and India is presently based in Mumbai.

He has signed a three-book deal with Penguin and plans to come up next with a fun-filled fiction novel.

"There will be hacking involved in this story about three friends besides a love story angle. There might be incidents inspired from real-life but it is definitely not about me", he says, "I always wanted to write down a fiction novel".

Fadia, who became the youngest author published by Macmillan at the age of 14, also runs certificate courses through video conferencing.

However, the 'ethical hacker' has over the time been idolised by geeks but dismissed by critics who have time and again questioned his credibility as an expert. To this, Fadia says his work speaks for himself.

Prod him further about an open letter to him by Forbes India executive editor Charles Assisi earlier this year titled 'Ankit Fadia Revealed' and Fadia says "they got it wrong".

"Charles is senior. Had I been a fake, the students wouldn't have enrolled for my certificate programmes. But, they are as they feel they are getting something good out of it. They got it wrong", he says.

Fadia, also points out that he has been asked to train at various places, including the National police Academy that establish his credentials.

Responding to increasing reports of Chinese hacking in India, Fadia says, "It happens all the time, though it has intensified of late. And what is interesting is the way they do it. The hackers make fake Facebook profiles and send friend requests to Army officers. Once they accept their request, the hackers start chatting with them on Facebook or Skype, later video-chatting with them that gives them an idea of the space surrounding the officers.

"While chatting, the hackers send the officers a zipped file on the pretext of sending photos etc which when downloaded and opened, infect the systems and confidential data becomes accessible to them", he points out.

To deal with this, the Army has recently taken initiatives including issuing strict action and termination for those violating guidelines and also introducing training programmes to create awareness.

However as an expert on the rapidly changing technology, it becomes imperative to keep abreast of latest happenings and Fadia admits he constantly keeps on learning through his own students at times and through a team he has specially created.

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