The passion with which this young man talks about cyber security is gripping and totally justifies his bag full of achievements. Not just in India but his name appears in the list of world’s top hackers and cyber security experts, too. He helps the Government of India, law enforcement agencies and several gigantic private entities to secure their data and websites.
Coming from a poorly-connected, rural part of south India this boy is an absolute inspiration to the youngsters.
Benild Joseph was born in a middle-class household in Wayanad, Kerala. He had a rough childhood after he lost his father to kidney ailment when he was only three-year-old. Supported by his working mother he remembers spending many hours in her office as a toddler. “It was manageable for her when I was small but as I grew up I created a lot of nuisance in her office,” he says.
His mother had to make a tough decision of prioritizing her livelihood over tending to her son. She left him at a nearby computer shop where he would play games for several hours. This went on for several years and Benild had now become quite familiar with computers.
When I reached STD 7 I was exposed to the social networking site Orkut and began thinking about what went behind developing the platform. “That is when I realized that I had developed an interest in technology, programming and coding,” he says.
Roger Grimes, Principal Security Architect with Microsoft, is working on a book where Benild will be featured alongside the top cyber security experts on the world.
By the time he reached STD 9, Benild had come up with his own social networking site named ‘Benzkut’. For his efforts he got into the Limca Book of Records at the age of only 14. This brought him international recognition and fueled his interest further in technology. His next goal became hacking his friend’s email ID. “I started looking for courses and found one in Calicut which was 100 km away from my hometown. I traveled 2.5 hours to take that course where my mentor taught my about the importance of being an ethical hacker and I gave up on the idea of getting into my friend’s email,” he says. Since then Benild has undergone 13 courses and spent innumerable hours practicing on his own, apart from finishing his engineering.
Now Benild extends his services in securing the cyber space for Government of India, several state governments and dozens of well-known private companies. “Although we have a robust team in the IT industry, we are very weak when it comes to IT security,” he says.
I don’t tell people I am a hacker because they get scandalized. However, they are impressed when I rephrase it and say I am a cyber security expert – Benild
Interested in traveling and outdoor activities, Benild, who is now based in Bengaluru, has also worked on various security projects at Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB), Indian Information Security Research Organization (IISRO), International Cyber Threat Task Force (CTTF) and Cyber Security Forum Initiative (CSFI).
Benild has breathlessly chased his passion and has overcome all the hurdles that came his way. He did not have an edge that people from metro cities did but he is now a regular speaker at IITs and several other prestigious institution. All his projects are well-paying but earning money isn’t something that drives him. “I want to be an industry leader. I want to bring cyber security experts at one platform where we can together work on strengthening the e-fiber of our country,” he says.