Whether it’s information technology, gymnastics, or Shaolin Kung Fu, 11-year-old Reuben Paul knocks it out of the park.
This kid from Austin, Texas, just stunned a crowd of cybersecurity experts at a conference in the Netherlands by demonstrating how just about anything can be “weaponized” when it’s connected to the Internet.
“From airplanes to automobiles, from smartphones to smart homes, anything or any toy” can be part of the Internet of Things (IOT), Paul said while speaking at the World Forum in The Hague.
“From terminators to teddy bears, anything or any toy can be weaponized.”
The 6th grader, who also excels in gymnastics and is the youngest-ever American to earn a Shaolin Kung Fu black belt, put his money where his mouth was. To back up his claims, he presented a teddy bear that connects to wi-fi using Bluetooth technology.
Paul then plugged a small device known as a “Raspberry Pi” into his laptop. The 11-year-old scanned the room for Bluetooth devices, then — “to everyone’s amazement,” according to Agence France-Presse — he downloaded dozens of phone numbers from the cyber security experts gathered in the room.
Then, using a computer language program called Python, Paul hacked into the teddy’s bear’s system using one of the collected numbers. To hammer his point home, he turned on the toy’s light and recorded a message from an audience member.
“IOT home appliances, things that can be used in our everyday lives, our cars, lights, refrigerators,” Paul told AFP after the conference, “everything like this that is connected can be used and weaponized to spy on us or harm us.”
The wunderkind’s father, information technology expert Mano Paul — while admittedly “shocked” by the types of security vulnerabilities his son is able to expose — says Reuben has been doing this type of thing all this life:
“He has always surprised us. Every moment when we teach him something he’s usually the one who ends up teaching us.”