What do you do when you learn you’ve got a knack for finding critical bugs and hacking into websites? Either you take over the world as a black-hat hacker or you become a white-hat or ethical hacker. 13-year-old Ahsan Tahir from Pakistan chose to be the latter.
Ahsan has already been hired by big companies like Microsoft, Google, and Uber to hack into their websites. Mainly, to find critical bugs and vulnerabilities in their system. He then sends the bug reports to the companies so that they can patch it up ASAP. He then gets paid in the process.
“The more hackers there are, the more bugs [are found], and the more secure companies are. It’s simple,” said Ahasan in an interview.
Source: YouTube, Bugcrowd
It’s amazing to find out that he is mostly self-taught, and only started about a year ago when he as twelve. When his own personal website was hacked, he learned from YouTube tutorials and blogs. “I decided to find bugs in my own website,” he said. Ahsan then said he found a site “that told me I can hack into different companies to find bugs and they will pay me — or appreciate me — so I started [doing] that.”
That’s when he found out that not only can he find security breaches in his own websites and applications, but in other companies’ as well. That’s when he decided to use his skills and become a bug bounty hunter, helping companies and clients find and fix vulnerabilities in their websites to create security patches.
“I am proud of making the internet safer, the world safer,” said Tahir. “Because the next wars maybe will be cyber wars.”
Source: Twitter, Ahsan Tahir
And with this, Tahir spends basically 6-8 hours a day hacking (after coming home from school, of course). If he somehow finds time to himself, he enjoys playing the guitar or going out for football. He used the money he earns from bug finding and hacking to buy himself an iPhone 7, and the rest he saves up in the bank. He plans to use the savings to buy a car once he gets his driver’s license at 18.
“Hackers like Ahsan are literally the next generation of cybersecurity defenders, and the future of the internet relies on them having an easy on-ramp into security as a career. Digital natives make very good hackers, and the power this group represents to companies trying to safeguard their businesses and users is immense,” says Casey Ellis, founder and CEO of Bugcrowd.