Attrition.org Chats with Sahil Khan

Sat Mar 26 22:27:30 CDT 2011

Days before publishing our review of "Hackers and Crackers" that showed extensive plagiarism in Khan's book, we sent him e-mail asking a question. Khan replied after we published the review (unaware that we did). This lead to us sharing the link and chatting with him about it. Below are the relevant e-mails and IM logs.

From: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
To: sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 19:51:43 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'


Do you know what the word "plagiarism" means?


From: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
To: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 09:58:53 -0800
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

Hello,

I understand the Meaning "plagiarism",It means using somebody's written
thing Work in your name.


From: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
To: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:11:35 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

: Hello,
:
: I understand the Meaning "plagiarism",It means using somebody's written
: thing Work in your name.

That is correct. Do you believe it is something an "ethical" hacker would
do?


From: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
To: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 11:33:14 -0800
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

No any sensible person will not do this,Can you Please tell me why are you
asking these questions?


From: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
To: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:35:15 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

On Sat, 26 Mar 2011, sahil khan wrote:

: No any sensible person will not do this,Can you Please tell me why are
: you asking these questions?

Because you plagiarized 99.35% of your book 'Hackers and Crackers'. Care
to explain why you did it, why you thought you could get away with it and
why you think it is acceptable to do that while calling yourself
"ethical"?

http://attrition.org/errata/charlatan/watch_list/sahil_khan/hackers_and_crackers.html


From: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
To: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 11:38:39 -0800
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

I appriciate your review about my book and would like to take the
opportunity to discuss this with you on skype or Phone.


From: security curmudgeon (jericho[at]attrition.org)
To: sahil khan (sahilkhan14[at]gmail.com)
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:41:54 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: question about your book 'Hackers and Crackers'

On Sat, 26 Mar 2011, sahil khan wrote:

: I appriciate your review about my book and would like to take the
: opportunity to discuss this with you on skype or Phone.

I will do instant messenger or e-mail.


Several e-mails were traded exchanging IM information and getting connected. The following IM log has been edited for brevity.

[03-26 14:26] Sahil Khan: Hello
[03-26 14:26] jericho: Hello
[03-26 14:26] jericho: What would you like to discuss?
[03-26 14:27] Sahil Khan: Please tell me what kind of clarification you need from my side.
[03-26 14:27] jericho: First, I am curious why you plagiarized basically the entire book, and 
                       tried to take credit for the work.
[03-26 14:28] Sahil Khan: I will be very fair,I have used some materials from the internet.
[03-26 14:28] jericho: "some"? You used 99.35% of that book from the Internet. I found less than 
                       10 sentences written by you.
[03-26 14:29] Sahil Khan: Not exactly your fiqure but still,There is no point in hiding the truth 
                          i have some materials.
[03-26 14:29] Sahil Khan: After doing that i realised that i have done mistake
[03-26 14:29] jericho: Yes, exactly my figure. I was very meticulous in documenting where the material 
                       came from.
[03-26 14:30] jericho: Second, will i find plagiarism in your other two books, Anatomy of Computer 
                       Viruses and Tricks of Email Hacking?
[03-26 14:30] Sahil Khan: Yes you will but not this much.
[03-26 14:30] jericho: Thank you for being honest about that. I have both books on the way and they 
                       will be reviewed for plagiarism at some point.
[03-26 14:31] jericho: Did "Hackers and Crackers" have a technical editor?
[03-26 14:31] Sahil Khan: No.
[03-26 14:31] Sahil Khan: I am in my 12th Grade and it is the age where you tend to make some mistakes.
[03-26 14:31] jericho: How many copies of "Hackers and Crackers" have you sold?
[03-26 14:32] Sahil Khan: Not even 1000
[03-26 14:32] Sahil Khan: I was in my 8th Grade at that time.
[03-26 14:32] jericho: Some articles say you wrote 4 books. Is that counting the 2nd edition of 
                       "Hackers and Crackers"? Or is there a 4th I have not found yet.
[03-26 14:32] Sahil Khan: There is not other books available.
[03-26 14:33] jericho: So 3 books, and "Hackers and Crackers" has 2 editions out?
[03-26 14:34] Sahil Khan: No,Just one edition,other was Hard bound.
[03-26 14:34] jericho: I understand, thank you for clarifying that.
[03-26 14:34] jericho: I'd like to make one comment regarding the 12th grade / mistakes..
[03-26 14:34] Sahil Khan: Yes,Please
[03-26 14:35] jericho: It is understandable, everyone makes mistakes at some point, especially early in 
                       life. Two things about this..  1. The publisher should have provided a technical 
                       editor to catch some of the mistakes in the book.   2. Once you make a mistake, it 
                       is more important how you deal with it. If you learn from it, don't make the same 
                       mistake again, etc. Being honest with me about the plagiarism is admirable. I 
                       encourage you to keep being honest, and focus on the "ethical" part of ethical hacking.
[03-26 14:36] jericho: You are not the first we have discovered to plagiarize, and several others continue 
                       to deny it when the evidence is concrete.
[03-26 14:37] Sahil Khan: Thanks for the advice.
[03-26 14:37] jericho: You are welcome. Thank you again for answering my questions.
[03-26 14:37] Sahil Khan: How long will you keep this article in your website.
[03-26 14:37] Sahil Khan: ??
[03-26 14:37] jericho: Forever.
[03-26 14:38] Sahil Khan: This could Really finish my career.
[03-26 14:38] Sahil Khan: Although i am not going into any cyber secure feild.
[03-26 14:41] Sahil Khan: Can i ask you one question?
[03-26 14:41] jericho: Sure
[03-26 14:41] Sahil Khan: why do you research on this?
[03-26 14:42] jericho: Because I believe that ethical behavior in the security industry is important, and I 
                       do not like to see people lie, cheat or steal to get ahead in an industry that is based 
                       on integrity.
[03-26 14:43] Sahil Khan: Will i face any legal threats as well?
[03-26 14:44] jericho: Not from us, no.
[03-26 14:44] Sahil Khan: from the orignal afcouse
[03-26 14:44] jericho: You are potentially at risk from anyone you copied material from, if they want to 
                       pursue you.
[03-26 14:44] jericho: I do not know the laws in India regarding plagiarism and copyright.
[03-26 14:45] Sahil Khan: Sir,I would like to make a request to you?Would you like to listen to that?
[03-26 14:46] jericho: You can make a request yes.
[03-26 14:46] Sahil Khan: Is it possible for you to delete this article,Because  i am still in my 12th Grade 
                          and don't want to face any legal thing.
[03-26 14:47] Sahil Khan: If i would have been rich i could have fight in any way...
[03-26 14:47] Sahil Khan: This could really ruin my career...As i am going for B.A.L.L.B
[03-26 14:48] jericho: I'm sorry, but we will not remove any articles from Errata unless they are proven to be 
                       incorrect in some fashion.
[03-26 14:48] jericho: I do not believe it will harm your career, as long as you are honest moving forward.
[03-26 14:48] jericho: As we discussed, everyone makes mistakes when they are young.
[03-26 14:48] Sahil Khan: You are Proven correct,You can Post this article but without my name.
[03-26 14:48] jericho: I cannot remove your name, you are responsible for the book.
[03-26 14:49] Sahil Khan: You can also publish this conversion..That i have realised my mistake
[03-26 14:49] jericho: I will publish a portion of this conversation, to demonstrate that you acknowledge the 
                       plagiarism, realized the mistake, etc.
[03-26 14:49] jericho: That will go a long way in proving you mean well.
[03-26 14:50] Sahil Khan: I would be grateful to you if can remove the article sir...
[03-26 14:50] jericho: I'm sorry, but no.
[03-26 14:50] Sahil Khan: No issues sir,I have done a mistake and I have to face it's end.\
[03-26 14:50] jericho: Thank you for your time..


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