While most preteens save up their allowances to buy the latest video game or a new bike, 10-year-old Jani decided to hack Instagram and was rewarded $10,000 for it. Despite the fact that he is too young to register an account on Instagram or Facebook, the Helsinki-based boy genius discovered that he could infiltrate Instagram and demonstrate the hack without even logging into an account.
According to Finnish publication Iltalehti, Jani (whose last name has not been released) discovered that he could alter code on Instagram's servers to force delete users' comments and captions. "I would have been able to eliminate anyone, even Justin Bieber," Jani told the publication.
After he verified his report by deleting a comment the company posted on a test account, a Facebook spokesperson told Forbes that the bug was fixed in late February and awarded him $10,000 (£6,910) in March. According to the spokesperson, the loophole was found in a private application programming interface that was not checking whether the person deleting the comment was the same user who posted it.
Although Jani was initially interested in coding video games, like most tech-savvy kids his age, he says he "started to get interested on information security and started watching YouTube videos on it."
The boy's father told the publication that Jani and his twin brother have discovered security flaws in the past as well, none of which were as significant as his latest hack discovery.
The $10,000 prize is a part of Facebook's Bug Bounty programme that offers handsome rewards to White Hat hackers and researchers who find bugs or glitches in their digital infrastructure, including Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The programme has reportedly received more than 2,400 valid submissions since its launch five years ago and has awarded more than $4.3m to over 800 researchers.
The social media giant says the programme received more than 13,000 submissions from researchers across the globe, including the US and Europe, in 2015 alone. However, only 526 were deemed valid reports. Facebook also notes that Indian researchers have disclosed more bugs than any other nationality.
Jani is the youngest hacker to receive a cash reward from Facebook for hacking its products so far — a record previously set by a 13-year-old in 2013. He says he plans to spend his hactivist earnings on football and a new bicycle.
The young hacker also adds that he plans to make a career in internet security. "It would be my dream job," he said. "Security is really important."