The famous hacker who shook the US intelligence system and had world leaders railing against Washington for spying on them picked up vital skills in India. Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower, spent a week in New Delhi of India training in core Java programming and advanced ethical hacking! What an amusing news? This training that got him certified as an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA) in the mean time.
Now he is hiding in Russia as a fugitive from US existing law and charged with espionage for leaking documents related to US surveillance. Snowden was trained at offshore IT training and certification provider Koenig Solutions in Moti Nagar, New Delhi in 2010. He flied to India on September 3 from Japan and left for the USA on September 9.
The Registration process of Foreigners Rule 1939 Form C, the Hotel Arrival report, a copy of which is with TOI, shows Snowden was staying Koenig Inn run by the institution in Karol Bagh at 2.30pm on September 3. “He paid around $2,000 as his training fee and accommodation,” told Rohit Aggarwal, the CEO of Koenig Solutions. Koenig is an authorized training implementer for certification programmes from companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Citrix, EC-Council and VMware. It has trained approx 20,000 foreign IT professionals across five centre in India and one in Dubai.
ECSA is a 4-day course designed to train IT security professionals with advanced tools and techniques required to perform complete information security tests. It also enables students to design, secure and testing networks to protect firms from threats that crackers and hackers pretense. “To take down a hacker, you need to think like one of them!” mentioned in the EC-Council website.
“Snowden was a certified moral hacker and hence he chose a fast-track course. It didn’t took much time to figure out how to create exploit-attacks and take down wireless networks. He was capable of interpreting vulnerabilities and outcomes in security testing,” told Sisir Pandey, the technical manager in information security of Koenig who trained Snowden on ECSA.
Snowden emailed from Japan, where he was staying on 23 July, 2009, enquiring about the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Course and Certified Ethical Hacker Certification programmes organized by EC-Council. Koenig sent the visa invitation letter to Snowden that was submitted to the embassy in Japan for foreign visa.
Emails were exchanged between Snowden and Koenig reveal that they had multiple security certifications – the Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts (MCSE) certification, Project Management Professional (PMP), EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Network+ and Security+ certifications from the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) along with IT trade association that helps advance global IT professionals.
Koenig Centre Manager, Hema Sharma, who had conversation with Snowden during his stay in New Delhi, also remembers him as a very calm person. “He kept himself within him. He was unassuming and nothing out of the usual. He was very much focused on the syllabus. He would frequently visit the Haldirams restaurant which is next to our centre,” she said. Snowden’s trainer who trained Java Saurabh Sharma, who has already left Koenig, remembered him as a student but could not recollect too many details.