This 14-year-old Pakistani hacker made it to Google's hall of fame

Published: June 30, 2016
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PHOTO: facebook.com/mbinshahzad2

PHOTO: facebook.com/mbinshahzad2

At the tender age of 14, most children see good grades in school as a big achievement. 14-year-old Muhammad Shahzad simply doesn’t conform to those lowly standards.

Setting the bar really high for his peers, this security researcher and ‘ethical’ hacker from Lahore only recently discovered that Google had inducted him into their hall of fame for highlighting several security vulnerabilities in one of Google’s acquisitions.

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Despite his young age, this is the second occasion on which Shahzad has helped Google make its software more secure. “When I was 12, I found Android 4.4 Lock Bypass and Android had no VRP at that time so what I got was only an appreciation email”.

Google are currently working to patch up some vulnerabilities pointed out by Shahzad, after which he may receive a reward from Google. But this doesn’t concern Shahzad much. “Being able to represent Pakistan on a global stage, and to be listed with researchers double my age is enough of a reward in itself,” he says.

Apart from Google, Shahzad has also pointed out several vulnerabilities to Apple, for which he has been mentioned in their Hall of fame page twice.

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When quizzed on how exactly a 14-year-old becomes so proficient at software security and hacking, Shahzad mentioned an incident from his childhood. “At a very young age I had an internet facility, and one day my father’s email account got hacked. That was the time when I heard the word ‘hack’ for the very first time. I promised my dad to bring that account back, I couldn’t do that but this was an excuse for me to get introduced to a whole new world”.

As an ‘ethical’ hacker, Shahzad finds weaknesses (vulnerabilities) in software programs and points them out to companies in order to ensure greater security. When asked about other computer-related fields, Shahzad said, “I’m good with Web applications and I’ve been doing some freelancing projects for PHP but, I realised that I should pursue what I love to do and keep doing that”.

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Apart from being a whiz kid, Shahzad is a guitarist and a foodie. When asked what the future holds for him, he said his dream of doing an undergraduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shahzad thinks the country’s tech industry had a bright future, but current growth was sluggish. “Many startups are simply doing it to make money, instead of looking to bring about change in people’s lives,” he said.

He went on to add that incubators, such as Plan9 were doing good work but not offering enough guidance to entrepreneurs. And while one can’t be sure when Pakistan’s technology industry will finally pick up but it’s safe to say with youth like Shahzad, the future looks bright.

We’ll leave you with Shahzad’s parting advice: “Don’t go for money but instead go for learning first, as money could buy a bed, but it won’t buy sleep.” I would listen to him if I were you.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Fahim
    Jun 30, 2016 - 5:43PM

    Unless Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc doesn’t open offices in Pakistan. Future of entrepreneurship is low in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Jun 30, 2016 - 6:35PM

    Good to Know. Recommend

  • sam
    Jun 30, 2016 - 9:57PM

    Well, first of all i believe congratulations are in order. I hope and pray that the Paki govt and the military will not turn him into a weapon and allow this boy to bloom into a beautiful flower. I also pray and hope that Taliban don’t blow him up or make another Malala out of him or even harness his knowledge for terrorism activities. Good luck dude, you need it! Recommend

  • Ramrrz
    Jun 30, 2016 - 10:43PM

    How come a 14 years old became a hacker and so good?
    I am really shocked and happy but on other hand i also feel kind of useless. I’m 20 and still far behind.
    God bless him. God bless Pakistan Recommend

  • omar
    Jul 1, 2016 - 11:49AM

    wonderful, best of luck for future.Recommend

  • Jul 1, 2016 - 12:17PM

    Lovely work boy keep it up GOD will give you success INSHAALLAH Recommend

  • Amar
    Jul 1, 2016 - 12:19PM

    The parting advice :)
    “Don’t go for money but instead go for learning first, as money could buy a bed, but it won’t buy sleep.”

    Awesome isn’t it :) Recommend

  • Naveed Alam
    Jul 1, 2016 - 4:49PM

    MashaALLAH…..
    Pakistan has shown again its ability and talent in the fied of IT,
    The 1st was Arfa(May ALLAH rests her soul in peace) and now the 2nd is Shahazad, many many returns of the day.Recommend

  • El Chapo
    Jul 2, 2016 - 6:11AM

    @Fahim:
    Blame it to your government. Their priorities are out of wack. If your government give them incentives, they will open their R&D in Pakistan. In a day more people are killed in Mexico than Pakistan but they have Latin offices there why?Recommend

  • Aviral
    Jul 2, 2016 - 7:36AM

    Good for them. However, they need to focus on growing IT sectors in Pakistan which I believe is still not in limelight.Recommend

  • Jul 2, 2016 - 11:31AM

    @Fahim:

    I totally agree with you!Recommend

  • Hamza
    Jul 2, 2016 - 1:38PM

    God bless pakistan….
    Lovely work may Allah give u alot of success….pak youth is full of talent.
    Nice work muhammad shahzaz God bless you…
    I love pakistan…
    Regard: hamzaRecommend

  • Waqas Ahmed
    Jul 3, 2016 - 12:33AM

    @sam:
    You sound like a typical jealous Indian always trying to belittle Pakistanis. You need to do something better with your life dude. Recommend

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