In 2014, a conversation transpired between 8 year old, Reuben Paul and his dad, Mano Paul, and mom, Sangeetha Paul, that led to the origin of CyberShaolin.
But before we delve into that conversation, it is important for us to tell us a little bit of a backstory.
September 2014 – Reuben debut as a speaker at the DerbyCon Hacker Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on Information Security from the mouth of Babes (or an 8 year old) in which he demonstrated how to hack into a fully patched Windows machine. He then keynoted at the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2Security Congress town hall meeting in Atlanta, Geogia, on Creating a Safe and Secure Cyber World for kids (by a kid).
October 2014 – Reuben was invited to deliver the closing keynote at the Houston Security Conference where he spoke on “Why kids make really good hackers?” This was reported in the local Houston news channel.
November 2014 – Reuben was invited to deliver the opening keynote at the Ground Zero Information Security Summit in New Delhi, India on Children’s Day. He spoke on “Developing r00t-Kidz: The future of CyberSecurity”. The media in India covered this talk in their newspapers.
Upon hearing of Reuben, kids and their parents, from all over the world started writing to Reuben and asked the following questions:
Reuben, can you teach me what you know?
Reuben, I want my child to be like you. Where do we begin?
Reuben, can you teach me how to hack?
One day while driving Reuben to his swim class, the conversation that spurred it all took place and this is how it went.
Reuben: Dada, have you bought anything for me for Christmas?
Mano: No Reuben, but if you have something in mind, tell me and if we can get it for you, we will.
Reuben: I dont want anything, Dada!
Mano: What do you mean, Reuben? I know you like videogames and so Mama and I were planning on getting you some videogames, like Disney Infinity or Skylanders.
Reuben: No Dada, really, I dont want anything. I have everything I need. I have a family, that God has blessed me with, who loves me and I have good friends. I have a God who loves me. I really don’t need anything!
They reach the swim class and Reuben goes in for his lesson, while Mano is a little intrigued and amused about his son’s request.
On the way back home,
Mano: Reuben, you said, you did not want anything for Christmas, and I find that intriguing. So what do you want?
Reuben: I don’t know, you know, how kids from all over the world are writing to us. Maybe, I can teach them what I am learning.
Mano: How do you plan to do that?
Reuben: I don’t know, maybe, I can make cybersecurity videos of what I know and publish them on YouTube
When they get back home, after swim class, Mano tells of his conversation with Reuben to Sangeetha, Reuben’s mom.
Sangeetha: Reuben, Dada told me about what you wanted to do. You know, that making videos and hosting it and all will cost you in time and cost us money. Do you want to charge for the educational content, you produce?
Reuben: No Mama, No. I would like all the educational material to be free, so any child anywhere in the world can benefit from it.
And that is how CyberShaolin was born …
With Reuben’s vision of educating kids all over the world on technology and security topics, we first thought of the name “Tech Padawans”. The idea was to create cyber Jedi Masters’s who would learn the cyber security arts, and increase in ranks as they learn more and go from younglings to Jedi to Jedi Masters. We were quickly advised that, “George Lucas” may not like that very much. To avoid any legal issues, we had to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm.
As we brainstormed, we realized that, with Reuben being the youngest person to have earned the Shaolin-Do Kung Fu Blackbelt in America (He got his 1st degree Blackbelt at Age 7 in August 2013), we wanted to incorporate Kung Fu into the vision and instead of Padawan ranks, we could use Kung Fu Belt ranks such as White Belt, Yellow Belt, etc. all the way to Black Belt, to show the progress of content learned.
Cyber – means Security (and Technology)
Shaolin-Do – means the Way of the Shaolin.
The idea behind CyberShaolin is that as one is educated on cyber security topics, they would earn Cyber belts and be equipped with the skills and empowered with the knowledge on cyber security dangers and defenses, so that they will be safe and secure in the Cyber (online) world.