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Wednesday, 3 January, 2001, 15:15 GMT
Teen hackers turn cyber cops
Young surfer
Brilliant young minds will be put to work
India's leading software watchdog is to use teenage computer hackers to crack down on cyber-crime.

The National Cyber Cop Committee - which has been set up by the software industry - is to be advised by a group of hackers, between the ages of 14 and 19.


If you want to catch a hacker, you need the brains of a hacker

Nasscom president Dewang Mehta
Dewang Mehta, president of India's National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) told BBC News Online that only a hacker could enter the mind of another hacker.

"They will tell us where our soft spots are - where government and industry websites are most vulnerable, thus helping us strengthen our e-security," Mr Mehta said.

He told a news conference in Delhi that the young hackers were "brilliant". He said they had told him that they could crack the Indian Defence Ministry website within minutes.

"We want to use them positively so that they can create adequate firewalls so that nobody can hack our country's websites," he said.

Crimewatch

Nasscom hit upon the idea of using the young hackers after several of them approached the body and pointed out e-security breaches.

Indian parliament
Parliament recently passed a landmark IT bill
The teen cyber-cops will not be paid - but, provided they do not have a criminal record, will be recommended to e-security businesses for a job.

"These hackers do not possess a formal engineering background but are innovative, creative and technically very sound with source codes," Mr Mehta said.

India recently passed a landmark law which aims to curb cyber-crimes and provide a legal framework for e-commerce transactions.

The government has been very concerned about the growth of cyber-crime which could involve unauthorised access, data alteration and destruction and theft of intellectual property.

Concern has also been expressed on the possible threat to India's national security and infrastructure - including the Indian Railways which depends on a vast computer network.

Under the new law, hackers can face fines and prison terms of up to three years, while those convicted of distributing pornographic material can face up to five years in jail.

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See also:

18 Oct 00 | South Asia
India cyber law comes into force
23 Jul 00 | South Asia
India tackles cyber crime
16 May 00 | South Asia
India approves IT bill
17 Mar 00 | South Asia
India's high-tech hopes
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