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Snowden picked up hacking skills in India

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden spent a week in New Delhi, training in advanced ethical hacking, where he earned his certification as an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor on

He may currently be hiding out in Russia, but NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had once spent a week in India picking up hacking skills at a local training institution. 

The former NSA systems analyst flew to New Delhi in September 2010, spending a week at IT training and certification institution, Koenig Solutions, where he attended a four-day course in core Java programming and advanced ethical hacking. According to a report by The Economic Times, he was eventually certified an EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA).

The certification encompasses advanced ethical hacking skills, networking penetration techniques and testing, analysis of outcomes using hacking tools and technologies, and how to mitigate security risks. 

Snowden paid over US$2,000 for the training fees and lodging at the Koenig Inn, said Rohit Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Koenig, in the report. With five centers in India and one in Dubai, the IT school is an authorized training partner for various certification courses including those from Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Oracle, and VMware. 

"Snowden was a certified ethical hacker and hence he chose a fast-track course," said Sisir Pandey, technical manager in information security at Koenig, who trained Snowden. "It didn't take him much time to figure out how to create exploit-attacks and hack wireless networks. He was able to interpret vulnerabilities and outcomes in security testing."

According to Koenig, the former NSA technician had sent the Indian institution an e-mail the previous year asking for details about EC-Council's hacking forensic investigator and ethical hacker certification courses. The e-mail exchanges revealed Snowden already had multiple IT security certifications including Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Computer Technology Industry Association's (CompTIA) Project Management Professional and Security+ certifications. 

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