Kochi teen awarded by Facebook for spotting a WhatsApp bug

Young Indian striving to bring change to the world. Son of a classical dance teacher mother and a newsagent father, K S Ananthakrishna (19), a B. Tech student at Pathanamthitta Mount Zion College of Engineering College was honoured by Facebook for rectifying a bug that allowed other persons to completely remove files on WhatsApp without the knowledge of the user.

He was awarded a cash award of $500 (approximately Rs 34,000) and Facebook also promised a spot for Ananthakrishna in the prestigious Hall of Fame, according to the report. His name has figured at the 80th spot in Facebook’s Thanks List this year.

Ananthakrishna reported about a bug on WhatsApp which potentially cause memory corruption. The bug enabled trackers to delete or wipe the complete data of the victim. This vindictive code would leave the majority of a phone’s information including the phone’s call logs, contacts, messages, e-mails and photographs, defenceless against the hackers. What was troubling about this spyware was that it would erase the WhatsApp call log from the influenced cell phone, giving clients no way to decide a hack. He reported about this bug to Facebook in March and was awarded for the same in May.

Ananthakrishna is a young cybersecurity enthusiast and this is not the first time that his skill and talent has been recognised. A year and a half back, he was also enlisted in Google’s honourable mentions. He had reported a bug on the platform and while it did not meet the criteria for a reward, he did get an honourable mention.

In his free time, he works as a volunteer with the Kerala Police CyberDome, technological research and development centre of the Kerala police. Apart from this, he also has worked as a freelance consultant with private firms. He also has been doing research on ethical hacking utilising the possibilities of the Internet.

The bug was, however, fixed by the California-based social media giant.

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