Manan Shah is the 24 year old founder of Vadodara based cyber security firm Avalance Global Solutions. His expertise in cyber forensics has helped Gujarat & Rajasthan police, Ministry of Defence, CBI Gandhinagar, Vadodara & Ahmedabad Airport in safeguarding their platform against attacks.Recently, he spent 7 sleepless nights trying to get a fix for the WanaCrypt Ransomware.But there was a time, when he had dropped out of school, faced the wrath of his parents for academic challenges, run-ins with the law and order, self preparing with hacking tools and the will to do something on his own.Manan shifts his position on the chair while swiftly replying back to a client whose systems were down because of a ransomware attack, removes his spectacles, picks up a glass of water with his left hand and in a subdued tone, takes us back to his school days.He hated going to school, doing homework and attending daily classes. He never had a penchant for the formal education structure in school. He was always reprimanded by his teachers and parents for not being a meritorious student. “I loved being the backbencher.”While he regularly failed in many subjects, he had an uncanny liking towards computer science. “My parents were worried about my future. They got me a computer system at home thinking that it might help me improve my academics,” recollects Shah.
He was forever hooked to the PC and spent most of his time watching online videos on programming languages, hacking, cyber security etc. This continued for a while. But he did not have a concrete plan for his future. “At 15, I was a hardware expert. My neighbors and relatives would take my help to fix their computers.”But all of that changed after he attended a seminar on ethical hacking at MS University, Vadodara, 2009 by Ankit Fadia,the self proclaimed ethical hacker. “I wanted to be like him, a coder, hacker whom people would recognize. I wanted to do something in hacking hereon,” says Shah.The next few months saw Shah take a course in ethical hacking and prepare himself further by learning programming languages online, emergency response, intrusion prevention techniques. During this period, he regularly helped Cyber cell departments of police agencies, private organizations on cyber security. But he never charged any fees for any of his work.Then in 2014, he found a cross-site scripting vulnerability on Go Daddy’s platform. The authorities at the web hosting company even offered him a job which he politely denied. “It took me some time to learn about various web vulnerabilities but in the meantime, I started participating on various bug bounty programs of Google, Facebook among others.”
For the next few months, he used to wake up, code, eat, help institutions with cyber issues, party with friends in the evening, brag about his new hack and sleep. This was becoming monotonous and with his parents enquiring regularly about his career pushed him to think harder.With an idea of charging clients for his work and the vision of going global with his name, he along with a couple of friends, got together and registered Avalance Global Solutions.One of the first projects for his new venture came to him by chance. He had gone to the Vadodara Cyber Cell and by chance met one of the owners of Chemical manufacturing company who was also present there for some other work.“The customer’s network had been breached badly and he didn’t know what to do as he had never faced a cyber attack before. I didn’t think twice and travelled 60 kms with him to his plant and helped him resolve the issue.”Ins pite of all of these, Manan recalls he was not happy rather he was in fear of how his parents would react to the decisions he had taken. “I had not told my parents about me dropping out and starting my own company at 22 years. But somehow I gathered courage and went back home to Ahmadabad.”His father who is retired now initially was taken aback and was extremely angry about his decision. “Dad was extremely angry about the situation. But when I explained him the kind of work I had already done for some originations, he was happy.”So far, Manan and his team have helped Gujarat and Rajasthan Police, MS University, Bank of Baroda, Navrachna University, Amul in more than 15 cases of Fraud Detection, Social Media, Account Recovery, Forensics, Email Hacking & Encryption. “We have even reported bugs in Twitter, Facebook, Apple, PayPal and even MIT and Harvard.”
( Text Source: ETtech )