Beware! Hacking whizz-kid at work

Reuben Paul and his younger brother Ittai giving a demonstration at the Central Public Library last night. Nearly 400 people attended the session, part of a series of askST@NLB talks.
Reuben Paul and his younger brother Ittai giving a demonstration at the Central Public Library last night. Nearly 400 people attended the session, part of a series of askST@NLB talks.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

Hacking into his robotic teddy bear is his usual party trick, but it was what 11-year-old Reuben Paul said while doing so that earned the most nervous laughter of the night.

"Wow, look at all these active Bluetooth devices right now," he said wryly, referring to the mobile phones among his audience. "Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to do anything to them in this event."

It was no idle boast - the American preteen also managed to figure out the passwords of several volunteers yesterday. "Don't use your real password," he warned them before beginning each demonstration of common hacking techniques.

Nearly 400 people packed into an area at the Central Public Library to listen to Reuben. The event is part of a series of askST @ NLB talks, which began in July. Each talk is usually given by a Straits Times correspondent or editor, and is followed by a question-and-answer segment.

Reuben, who started non-profit organisation CyberShaolin with his father, spoke about its mission to educate and empower children and adults against cyberthreats.

Last night, the sixth grader from Austin, Texas had help from younger brother Ittai, five, who assisted with one of the demonstrations and talked about buffer overflow, a type of programming anomaly.

HACKING ALERT

Wow, look at all these active Bluetooth devices right now. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to do anything to them in this event.

REUBEN PAUL, referring to the mobile phones among his audience.

Said Madam Ingrid Lim, 42, who attended the talk with her two sons: "Reuben has quite an impressive list of achievements... Age is not an obstacle."

The next talk on Dec 15 will feature ST senior education correspondent Sandra Davie, who will be discussing the question: "Do you need a degree to succeed in life?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Beware! Hacking whizz-kid at work'. Print Edition | Subscribe