Arun S Kumar is doing pretty well for a 20-year-old. He just visited Facebook's headquarters in California and was paid 32,000 dollars for detecting bugs in a product it offers to small businesses for advertising.'It's big money for a student like me,' said the fourth-year computer science student from Kerala. But his eye is on a bigger prize. 'I hope to be hired by them later.'
A growing tribe of young students in Kerala -most of them male -are training themselves to hunt for weak links in the software of computer giants. If their hunches turn out correct, they get paid -and hopefully noticed by companies they'd love to work for.
There are more and more youngsters from Kerala being drawn to this because we are very exposed to new technologies. In the last two-three months, I have earned at least 20 lakhs by bug-findings,' says Hemanth Joseph, who has apparently coined a new term for his hobby and is studying mechanical engineering.Students like him are also being recruited for freelance and unpaid help by the Kerala Police in fighting cyber-crime.
'In the cyber world, every problem is a new problem and these young people solve it in no time. I myself am shocked. That's how we started the cyberdome student wing which is the most productive wing,' said Manoj Abraham, a senior police officer.Students are selected as volunteers for cyberdome based on their application and technical abilities. Students like Mr Joseph have put firms on alert by proving they have what it takes.