Amidst the alarming stories of ransomware WannaCry causing cyber systems to crash worldwide, an 11-year old boy and his exceptional expertise over cyber technology has been gaining attention.
During the International One Conference 2017 in the Netherlands, Reuben Paul stunned not just the audience, which included top cyber security experts, by demonstrating a live hack.
That too, through a robotic teddy bear that could be misused as a covert surveillance device.
— NCSC-NL (@ncsc_nl) May 16, 2017
“From airplanes to automobiles, from smartphones to smart homes, anything or any toy can be part of the Internet of Things (IOT),” said the Indian-origin sixth grader, as reported by The Guardian.
According to Reuben, from terminators to teddy bears, anything can be “weaponised”.
Using Raspberry Pi, a tiny credit-card sized computer that could scan for available Bluetooth devices in the conference hall premises, including his own, Reuben managed to hack into the teddy bear. That’s not just it; using Python, a programming language, he even turned on one of the lights in his toy and recorded a message from the audience.
Apparently, the cuddly bear was capable of connecting to the cloud via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to receive and transmit messages. The demonstration was to prove that anything connected to IoT, even toys, could be hacked into and used as tools for illegitimate surveillance.
Hailing from Texas, this is not the first time Reuben has amazed people with his cyber exploits.
Cyber Ninja Reuben Paul. Source: Facebook
Also known as Cyber Ninja, he has been attending conferences since he was 8, and was featured in the latest edition of “15 Under 15: Rising Stars in cybersecurity”.
Reuben is also the founder of CyberShaolin, a non-profit organisation that aims to equip kids with cyber-security skills using videos and games.
His father Mano Paul, who is an IT expert, has said that Reuben had started displaying cyber skills by the time he was six. “He has always surprised us. Every moment when we teach him something he’s usually the one who ends up teaching us,” Mano said.
Mano also expressed his shock over the vulnerability that one could find, even in kids’ toys, after his son first hacked a toy car, before moving on to more complicated things. “It means that my kids are playing with timebombs, that over time somebody who is bad or malicious can exploit,” he added.