Published: 06th October 2022
If I win, it will be the country's victory, says 21-year-old GITAM student who will represent India at WorldSkills Competition
The finalist of the global competition talks about his passion for the field of cybersecurity and the importance of securing data online
“Technology is everywhere, hence, cybersecurity needs to be everywhere too,” says Srihari Ruttala right at the outset of our conversation. The student of GITAM (Deemed-to-be University), Visakhapatnam, seems really, really excited. And why shouldn't he be? He is one of the two students who will represent India at the final round of the prestigious WorldSkills Competition in South Korea from October 13 to October 16, 2022.
In the national level round that was held in Delhi in January, out of the 22 participants, Srihari was able to bag the gold medal and qualify for the final round. He had come up with a solution to protect the data of users through digital forensics because cybersecurity is what he is passionate about. The student will be competing against other international participants with his teammate, Mufeed Hamzakutty, from Kerala who also won the gold medal in the national-level round.
What is the solution that this GITAM student came up with in the national level round?
Imagine you visit a website that looks dubious right from the beginning, but you ignore the red flags (which we all tend to do) and make that tempting purchase anyway! But alas, the payment is gone and so is everything else that was sitting in your bank account.
The solution that the GITAM student has come up with stands in between you and such shady-looking websites and prevents them from looting all your money. By deep-diving into the field of data forensics, the student was able to come up with this idea which will protect your credentials from being compromised.
The first round of the challenge was held at the district level in January 2020 after which, the young technophile qualified for the state-level round, in which, he won the silver medal and qualified for the next levels.
Tech enthusiast right from the start
Showing interest in technology from a very young age, Srihari was hardly 11 or 12 when he came across news articles about cyber crimes. That is when he started to take an interest in cybersecurity. “Self-learning is what I opted for when it comes to cybersecurity. You won't believe it! I applied for this competition after randomly seeing a small advertisement somewhere. I didn't expect it to take me to this level,” says the 21-year-old finalist. He goes on to talk about the importance of cybersecurity and says, “Imagine all your data being tracked online! Imagine how many of your calls can be tapped! The whole purpose of cybersecurity is to avoid this privacy invasion and protect everyone's data.” Srihari completed his intermediate in Science and is now pursuing his Master's in Computer Application (MCA, 2021-2023) at GITAM in Visakhapatnam.
The student's academic journey is dotted with major achievements, including a gold medal in India Skills Competition 2022 and bagging the runner-up position in Deloitte's CyberKshetra. On World Youth Skills Day, Srihari was presented with a Rs 1 lakh cheque by the Government of Andhra Pradesh at an event held by the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC).
“I worked and practised really hard and I am very confident about the final round too. I am collected and relaxed because I know that is the only way I can perform my best,” he added.
Talking about his mentors, the youngster says, “I was mostly self-taught. Although my professors helped me with computer languages and technical aspects, I pursued this in my own interest. One person I would like to thank is my college HoD (Head of Department) because he helped me get permission for missing out on classes. This made it easy for me to balance my preparation for this competition and college classes.”
“I feel thrilled and a little proud to be representing India in another country. This is my first time travelling to South Korea. I haven't even thought about what I am going to be doing there! Although we might not have a lot of time to tour the country, I am excited to meet new people and gain contacts that will help my future,” he says. Adding to that he also talks about his future plans to come up with an innovative and unique domain in the cybersecurity field where he can build something of his own.
The student shares his experience of being selected to represent the county and mentions, “It is not about me representing the country. At the end of the day, it is about this country and India winning the medal. Even if I win, it will be a victory for the country.”
The WorldSkills Competition, founded in 1950, is now in its 46th season and has conducted 62 skill events throughout 15 nations and regions, with over 1,000 participants from all over the world.