4 May 2016

10-Year-Old Boy Wins $10,000 after Hacking Instagram

A 10-year-old Finnish boy has received a USD 10,000 reward from Mark Zuckerberg for spotting a bug in Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram, becoming the youngest hacker to receive a cash reward from the social media giant for hacking its own products, The Hindu reports.

Despite the fact that he is too young to register an account on Instagram or Facebook, Jani, the Helsinki-based boy genius discovered that he could infiltrate Instagram and demonstrate the hack without even logging into an account.

According to Finnish publication Iltalehti, Jani discovered that he could alter code on Instagram’s servers to force delete users’ comments and captions. “I would have been able to eliminate anyone, even Justin Bieber,” Jani told the publication.

A Facebook spokesperson told Forbes that the bug was fixed in late February and awarded Jani USD 10,000 in March.

According to the spokesperson, the loophole was found in a private application programming interface that was not checking whether the person deleting the comment was the same user who posted it.

The USD 10,000 prize is a part of Facebook’s Bug Bounty programme that offers rewards to White Hat hackers and researchers who find bugs or glitches in their digital infrastructure, including Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

The programme has reportedly received over 2,400 valid submissions since its launch five years ago and has awarded more than USD 4.3 million to over 800 researchers.

Jani is the youngest hacker to receive a cash reward from Facebook for hacking its products so far - a record previously set by a 13-year-old in 2013. He says he plans to spend his hactivist earnings on football and a new bicycle.

Jani says that he plans to make a career in internet security. “It would be my dream job,” he said.

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