At 13 years old, he has been recognized by Microsoft, Google, Apple, Intel, Yahoo!, Dropbox, eBay and many more.
He taught himself hacking in 3 years and has identified vulnerabilities for Silicon Valley companies, earning numerous laurels and awards in the process.
Microsoft even contacted his father to ascertain his age, since they needed proof to recognize his ingenuity in realm of online security.
He is Muhammad Shahzad, a self-taught and prodigious talent that is earning laurels for Pakistan from global tech firms for all the right reasons. Even local channels here caught wind of him and he has been featured most recently in Hasb-e-Haal among many different programs in Samaa, Geo, PTV to name a few.
Did we mention that he’s co-authoring a book on Web Application Penetration testing? And he’s just getting started.
The Beginning of a Journey
Muhammad was exposed to computers from a young age. He had his own email address when he was just in KG, and that lifelong fascination with how things worked in the world wide web got him into the world of ethical hacking.
Ethical hacking relies on the same methods and techniques to bypass a system’s security as the garden variety hacking that we read in the news and see in Hollywood blockbusters. The difference between the two is that whereas a less-principled hacker just wants to wreak havoc and be a nuisance, the ethical hacker is bound by morals and an overarching desire to help corporations fortify their cyber defenses. Muhammad uses his skills and expertise for the latter.
Fun fact: He identified the security lock bypass flaw in Android OS 4.4, with the Android Security Team recognizing his contribution and patching that hole in future releases.
Curiosity was what started Muhammad to embark on this journey when he was only 10. He read up on web security online and wasted no time in putting his knowledge to work. In 3 years time, he has identified numerous vulnerabilities online, became a public speaker in academic circles in Pakistan, and authored a Research Paper for a conference. He is writing a book while learning Python, C++ and PHP languages to solidify his programming skills.
A Look at the Guy Behind those Hacking Skills
He currently studies in Beaconhouse and like an eight-grader, he loves watching movies, playing the occasional Counterstrike match with his friends and some cricket and soccer too.
Asked to name his favorite movie, Muhammad Shahzad doesn’t hesitate in his answer. The recent Chris Helmsworth (Thor) starrer ‘Blackhat’ is his current favorite, which is a movie about, you guessed it, hacking.
Muhammad has also done his fair share of public speaking in universities and other academic institutions all over Pakistan. Public speaking is a daunting prospect for many mortals out there, but prodigies like Muhammad Shahzad have a life hack figured out for such situations. According to him, the key is to focus on knowing what you are about to speak about. If you ask this scribe, it is sound advice.
Fun Fact: Muhammad Shahzad hasn’t done any certifications. He lets his efforts and hard work speak for himself, a fact also acknowledged by Silicon Valley companies.
What the future holds for this young prodigy
Muhammad has a healthy attitude towards learning and expanding his knowledge. As for his future, he’s hoping to make it to Atchison on merit. His life goals include him continuing his efforts to become a world-class ethical hacker from Pakistan who wants his country to be remembered for the right reasons.
His family, friends and fellow hackers are with him all along the way in his journey of personal and professional growth. Here’s to hoping the government Pakistan recognizes his worth too and supports him.
Because make no mistake. It’s talent like this that Pakistan desperately needs.
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