A 9-year-old hacker influencing the world... Sounds impossible, right? Well, sometimes you're just born extraordinary!
Meet Reuben Paul. When you first look at him, he would come cross as any other school boy, but this 4' 5" little lad of Indian origin is a security researcher aka 'hacker' with the ability to hack into smartphones and computer systems of unsuspecting victims.
A student of Texas Public Charter School, Harmony School of Science, he does not look like your regular hacker. He loves playing with his friends and takes Kung Fu, gymnastics and swimming lessons. This talented Indian kid demonstrated his skills of cyber attack methods in June this year at BSides , a security conference in Austin, Texas. Like a boss, he injected malicious code into what seemed like a legitimate app, which he crafted on stage! He also managed to hack an Android Phone, dump all of its contacts and call logs, run a video stream from the device and geo-locate a user’s location.
Even though he is really tech savvy, Reuben is no criminal. In fact, he hopes to make people aware of the kind of dangers in the cyber world.
According to Reuben's father, the fourth grader's talent for cyber security began at a young age and has never stopped since. So he started teaching him concepts. “I remember when he was five, he used words like firewall. It left me totally surprised that a kid could understand and pick up those things,” said Reuben’s father, Mano Paul, who works in the cyber security field as a CEO at SecuRisk Solutions.
He built his first game for a school project. So when kids were walking around with hand painted board games, Reuben walked in to class with a developed software that he called "S huriken Math" which helps kids learn Math using a ninja throwing shurikens (stars) at the right answers. The school liked it so much that they took it forward to the Apple app store.
That's when Reuben, with the help of his parents, decided to begin Prudent Games, an app and game development company, of which Reuben is CEO.
His debut act drew attention and the boy kept getting better. Hord Tipton, the then executive director of (ISC) 2, suggested that he begins writing apps that could teach cyber security. With the help of his father, he wrote his first cyber security app called "Cracker Proof" that teaches kids how to make strong passwords.
“Cracker Proof is already in the Apple app store and there are more apps coming soon,” said Reuben. He is already working on his next game called, "Crack Me If You Can," which teaches about brute force attacks.
His first hacker conference was DerbyCon where he made his debut presentation on Cyber Security titled “InfoSec From The Mouth Of Babes.” He soon got popular in the cyber security circle and has keynoted in several such events ever since. He recently keynoted at the Hack In The Box Haxpo in Amsterdam in May, 2015 .
“Reuben is speaking and people are starting to pay attention. They see this kid, who is so young, understanding complex security issues and demonstrating hacks with ease that it makes them realize that the world of security is something serious that we need to pay attention to,” his proud father said.
Reuben's plans for educating kids don't stop there. “We live in a world with new technology and millions of apps which kids like me use. We need to teach kids to use it carefully and securely, because, right now schools don’t teach it,” the 9-year-old said.
He is currently working on a larger program and curriculum for use by kids, parents and teachers alike.