Connector Spotlight: Anusan Sivakumaran
Engineer, Security Whiz, NBA fanatic. Get to know Anusan Sivakumaran.
Friday November 23, 2018
Hacker by day, athlete by night. Add a slice of financial know-how… What can’t Anusan do?
Tell us a little bit about the project you’ve been working on.
I’m on a project that’s helping one of our clients build a blockchain-based network for the secure transmission of verified data, aka Know-Your-Customer (KYC). My role on this project has been to design and implement an API that abstracts the blockchain technology away for financial customers to use and build a data storage service for facilitating document exchange.
Where were you prior to Connected?
I was working for BlackBerry as a Security Software Developer intern, where I conceptualized and designed features and utilized security modules to enhance Android OS system security. I also identified and fixed numerous vulnerabilities in security modules and libraries used by several devices, prototyped Android test apps, and executed Android test suites (CTS) for functional and regression testing.
Impressive. On that note, anything you care to brag about?
I’ve only been to one hackathon, but, well, I won it! It was at the University of Waterloo and was called Terrible Hacks. As the name suggests, it’s a hackathon that lets you build anything whatsoever, even if it’s completely unusable.
So what did you build?
Well when I joined the hackathon, I noticed there was a prize for “Hillary Clinton’s Best Email Hack” (it was during the American election year). And I also knew that UWaterloo was having a tiny issue with their mail servers. So a group of us took advantage of this flaw to have some fun. We built an email spoofer web app and called it “Spoofify,” which could send anyone at Waterloo an email from literally any email address in the world—Bill Gates, Tim Cook, you name it. When we presented our hack by spoofing some emails for co-op jobs, the crowd went nuts.
We won the Best Email Hack Award and People’s Choice for Best Hack. I even caught the attention of some Google and Shopify recruiters.
The point of the hack was to educate the crowd about security, but obviously it was a lot of fun too. Don’t worry, I reported it as a bug to the university 🙂
Are you some sort of hacker or something?
Umm… I mean, I used to be a big online gamer, and back then I always wondered how people were able to hack into games or disconnect someone else’s internet. So one day I met someone online who taught me some basics. From there I dug deeper and was able to teach myself things like installing keyloggers, embedding remote administration tools onto computers, and issuing denial of service attacks.
Sometimes in school we’d have restricted web access, but I would always find a way around it. Or sometimes I would recode the computers in school to randomly eject the CD tray or output speech. Eventually I grew out of it and started becoming interested in security and privacy instead. I now use my powers for good 🙂
What about non-hacker hobbies?
Outside of work you can find me doing something active—whether it’s basketball, working out, or playing soccer on the official Connected team, which I also get to manage (go team “About To Get Messi”!). I also like taking walks around Toronto, playing pool or foosball, indulging in food, and meeting new people.
What product do you wish you’d created and why?
I wish I’d created WealthSimple. With WealthSimple, investing is so, well… simple! It’s become such a popular way to invest in Canada. Despite charging such a small fee, they manage to make a lot of revenue.
Sounds like you know a thing or two about investing.
It all started with Bitcoin. I was fascinated by the idea of cryptocurrencies, which led to me becoming a Bitcoin miner before moving on to Ethereum. Eventually my interests shifted toward more traditional stocks and bonds as it was a frequent topic at work. So I decided to educate myself about investing. First I discovered WealthSimple, as mentioned. And I loved it. But eventually I decided to get serious and manage my portfolio myself. I think one day I’ll day-trade.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Toronto?
China Cottage in Scarborough is the best Hakka place ever!
What’s your favourite spot in the city?
If I’m not doing something physically active, you can catch me at Jurassic Park outside the Scotiabank Arena (formerly the ACC) in Maple Leaf Square. The atmosphere there during a Raptors game is truly wild. Some of my most memorable moments as a sports fan are there.
This is the third entry in our Connector Spotlight series. Stay tuned for more profiles about the great people here at Connected. Check out our second entry here.