Hacker or cracker

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Updated: Feb 27 2012, 06:05am hrs
Think like a prisoner, to catch a prisonersame is the situation with a hacker. Virus attacks in our country are on a rise and India is amongst the most vulnerable destinations when it comes to spams. Interestingly, the last two years have witnessed enormous

interest from youngsters to learn hacking. The average age of a hacker now is 24 years, which was not the case previously due to lack of resources and professional certifications to learn hacking. Industry spectators consider this a good sign, but it is hard to believe that a nation with young hackers is leading to higher security. The answer is simplethere needs to be an emphasis on ethical hacking.

Recently, hackers from across the country assembled at a two-day conference in Goa, called Nullcon to share ideas and one could feel the enthusiasm amongst young entrepreneurs, security departments of various companies and students from different engineering colleges who have mastered the art of hacking through their own efforts.

Aseem Jakhar, founder of Null, an open security community says, Students need counseling and guidance when they are certified for hacking. This is the reason we collaborate with different engineering colleges like Symbiosis Centre for

Information Technology (SCIT) and Indira Group of Institutes to educate students for ethical hacking. In most of the engineering colleges, security education is not in the curriculum.

Nevertheless, small steps are being initiated by a few. Mumbai University is contemplating to initiate a masters in information security. And even International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Bangalore and Allahabad has an integrated course in security. Rest there are certifications, which are not highly recognised.

The last two years have also seen a lot of job creation in the IT security industry, courtesy every second website being hacked. Companies too are becoming cautious and want their data to be secured. Null encourages youngsters to join this profession through its job portal. Akash Mahajan, a freelance security expert associated with Null says, The industry is in constant need of hackers. Recently, Adobe posted a demand of 60 trained security specialists on our website and we help companies reach out to these young enthusiasts. Consultancy firms like KPMG and IT companies like Infosys are too keen to absorb security experts.

Experts reveal that 10% of the company cost goes into being security proof. Thus, even companies have now started training their staff internally or outsourcing it to different IT security institutes.

But is it easy to become a hacker This is still a debatable topic in the industry. Some say it is very easy if one is interested. All the information is available online which teaches you hacking.

Definitely, there is a trend of youngsters innovating in this space. Take the case of Matrix Shell, a company founded by four youngsters based out of Pune. Their endeavour is to protect the GSM mobile networks, and this is their business model. Deepesh, who is one of the founders, says, The Indian GSM industry is not very secure. Phone calls or SMSes can easily be tapped and fraud in the bills is also very easy. We want to educate companies on this and help them. The aim of this group of young ethical hackers is to reach out to telecom providers through security vendors. The company was formed six months back and is still in a test marketing stage.

There is no dearth of ideas among these young hackers. The digital world is dangerous and we need fighters to crack a hack. Hope the concept of ethical hacking is all what they stick to!