EXCLUSIVE Pink Stories: Ehraz Ahmed a self learned ethical hacker has saved a billion users from cyber attacks
It was 10 AM and an unusually usual rainy day at Mysore. With a coffee on his desk, he had just started work. The Internet was full of news about the Cryptocurrency scam being run by a Verified Fan Page of Elon Musk on Facebook. Several media outlets broke the news and the page was made unavailable soon after. This got Ehraz Ahmed, a 25-year-old Mysore-based security researcher, ethical hacker, and tech entrepreneur thinking.
He started his research and stumbled upon another verified page of Elon Musk. However, this time it wasn’t a Fan Page, but Elon Musk himself. Not really. And as any wise person who knows something about Musk would know, Ahmed, too, was sure this can’t be Musk. The SpaceX CEO is not on Instagram and Facebook, after all. It took Ahmed not more than one hour to find out the page is being run by scammers who are impersonating the Tech King.
“I was able to fetch the details of the scammers from the About Section of the Facebook Page. It looked like the scammers might have used fake documents of Aubrey Allegretti, who was a Political Reporter at Sky News, to get the page verified and later changed it to Elon Musk to run a Bitcoin scam. I posted a case study about this on my website. And Web News Observer was the first media outlet to cover the news. The page was made unavailable after this,” says Ahmed.
Cryptocurrency giveaway scams, Ahmed says, are the new fraudulent way of luring people into sending digital currency at the fake promise of doubling the amount soon after. Many people, over the last two years or so, had fallen prey to such scams. It is only after waiting for a couple of hours for that doubled amount to get transferred into their Bitcoin wallet that they realise they are scammed.
This is not the first time Ahmed has done his bit to prevent people from becoming victims of potential scams. The self-learned ethical hacker and security researcher has saved the sensitive data of about a billion users over the years.
“My love for tech started at a young age. I was 14 when I started my game server hosting company. What made me come up with the idea was the fact that all my friends were crazy about the computer action game Counter-Strike. However, I learnt it all on my own and Google was my saviour. I spent hours reading about coding and hacking. Gradually, with some help from my elder brother, Umraz, I got a hold on the topics and I decided to make a career in the field,” says Ahmed.
However, it was only when the reality of life struck Ahmed that he actually decided to go big in the field. His father Aijaz has suffered a heart attack when Ahmed was in Class XII. That was when he decided to make his family proud by exploring the different facets of cybersecurity.
“It was 2013 when bug bounty programs were going big. That is when I started to find security flaws in major companies. It was a tough and tedious process but my hard work paid off and, in a few months, I was able to find security flaws in the web applications of 50 companies,” recalls Ahmed.
However, finding and reporting security flaws to the companies was not as easy as it may sound. While some companies accepted the flaws, others preferred to stay in denial. But this doesn’t mean Ahmed had to stop. He was determined to safeguard the data of Indian users despite the many curveballs that life was throwing at him. This is why, today, he is counted among the renowned ethical hackers of India.
Peer pressure made Ahmed join an engineering college, however, it was only after a year that he realised it wasn’t his calling. “The theoretical classes were not my calling. I wanted to do something big and run my own companies. This is why I decided to quit engineering and pursue my dreams. I faced a little resistance from friends and family, but seeing my determination they knew I will do something better,” Ahmed tells you.
Cut to 2019, when Indian companies were suffering from several data breaches. Ahmed went on to report security flaws in Airtel, Truecaller, JustDial, Nykaa and many others.
Ahmed’s mantra was to live a purposeful life. And he worked day in and out to fulfill that. There were times when he worked for 18 hours a day. With zero to very less sleep, Ahmed was juggling his companies and security work with full enthusiasm.
“I launched Voxy Wealth Management, a fintech company while I was still in college. This was back in 2016. The next year, soon after quitting engineering, I launched Aspirehive, a cybersecurity firm,” says Ahmed.
The incidences of data breaches are on a high and companies like Dominos, Air India, and Mobikwik became victims of it in 2021 itself. The rising trend is both shocking and concerning. This is why Ahmed is currently busy building an innovative product to safeguard companies from data breaches. It is still in a nascent stage and will take some time to enter the market.