Meet Ahmad Halabi who hacked the US Department of Defense cyber security.
Born in Abu-Dhabi UAE, Ahmad Ghassan Halabi now lives in Dahr Al Ain. At age 15, while at Kfarhazir public school, he started getting involved in all matters of IT- especially programming and security by following short documentaries and entertaining videos online like Facebook and YouTube.
At 16, his laptop was hacked by an unknown hacker from the US. This started his interest in hacking and security and motivated him to learn about hacking techniques.
The Baccalaureate years drove him away from his main interest but he managed to find the time to follow pages and websites related to security and technology in general.
Not waiting to start university studies, he pursued his passion and became a Certified ETHICAL HACKER with EC Council, Britain. Right after, he joined a university in Lebanon then transferred to AUT because of the great IT program that it offers.
Now in his junior year, Ahmad is thankful to AUT whose teaching methodology improved his critical thinking, problem solving and programming; in fact, he insists, that is what university can offer, it is up to the student to benefit from the expertise and knowledge of the professors and use them towards developing personal interest and “in my case it was what we call penetration testing, the terminology used for hacking to reduce the public fear”. (Another terminology used is security researcher, or ethical hacker)
At 19, Ahmad’s expertise in security penetration earned him the certificate of EC Council Certified Security Analyst.
Among his findings in security testing was a bug in the website of the university which he brought to the attention of the President.
One day Ahmad read about the US Dept. of Defense HackerOne program, inviting ethical hackers from around the world to try and find vulnerabilities in their systems. “I decided to give it a try, then I submitted my first bug,” he says with delight. Once done, it was verified and accepted, and he was listed on their honor list but he continued his focus with them until he ranked 1st in the Hall of Fame of US Dept. of Defense in 2019, ranking 2520 worldwide, and acquired 2772 reputations on HackerOne where he received 3 times swags.
Ahmad also found vulnerabilities in programs like Google, Twitter, Telegram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Bitdefender, the National Cyber Security (UK), Avira, Sophos, Panda, and McAfee which offered him a career opportunity, but until this day he prefers to continue his education at AUT. He also found vulnerabilities in Huawei, Lenovo, Asus, Blackberry, Razor.
Today his main goal is to find vulnerabilities in all other programs helping companies secure themselves.
When asked about his long term goal, Ahmad reveals he would like to teach Cyber and Information Security in order to enlighten students about promising future careers “as this is a worldwide teaching gap not limited to Lebanon.” Ahmad also plans on setting up a Cybersecurity company where he can continue what he started: Penetration Testing and Security.
Asked about what advice he has for students, Ahmad says; “DON’T WORK HARD, WORK SMART!, stay focused, and believe in yourself.