Top 10 world’s famous hackers
At the present time, everyone takes the word “Hacker” in a negative way. But we can refer hacker as any computer programmer or skilled computer expert having technical knowledge to overcome a problem. They uses bugs or exploits to break into computer systems. Hacker can be classified into three types:
• White-hat Hackers: they are the good ones who uses hacking to improve computer security.
• Gray-hat Hackers: they are the ones who hacks just for fun or to satisfy their curiosity.
• Black-hat Hackers: they are the bad or evil ones who hacks to cause harm or exploit computer systems for their personal gain.
The following list shows the top 10 famous people who became renowned hackers in the world.
1. John Thomas Draper
Also known as Captain Crunch, John became famous as he managed to make free long-distance calls with a whistle found in Cap’n Crunch cereal box. In 1970, he worked with hacking techniques and made the phone-phreaking using the well-known ‘blue box’, a device with which one could produce numerous control sounds of telephone companies. At that time, the system was controlled by analog tone sequences. With the sound of whistle having same frequency as a long-distance line unoccupied continuously emitted to indicate to a telephone exchange is ready to receive a call. The phreaked called a remote toll opening an unused line that did not record billing. This hacking technique was called ‘phreaking’.
John started hacking computers in the early days when people were unaware of hackers. He also implemented the programming language Forth and the first word processor for Apple computers, named “Essay Writer”.
2. Kevin Mitnick
Probably the famous hacker of all time, Mitnick has been described as “the most wanted computer criminal in United States history” by the US Department of Justice. He started his hacking days at the early age of 13 by using social engineering and dumpster diving to bypass the punch card system used in the Los Angeles bus system. Later, Social engineering became his primary method to obtain information, including user-names and passwords and modem phone numbers.
In 1979, at the age of 16, he first gained unauthorized access to a computer network, when a friend gave him the phone number for the Ark, the computer system Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) used for developing their RSTS/E operating system software. He broke into DEC’s computer network and copied their software. In 1988, he was convicted of the crime and was sentenced to 12 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Near the end of his supervised release, Mitnick again hacked into Pacific Bell voice mail computers. For this, an arrest warrant was issued but he fled, and became a fugitive for two and a half years. During this time, he allegedly hacked into the computer systems of some of the world’s top technology and telecommunications companies including Nokia, Fujitsu and Motorola. He used cloned cellular phones to hide his location and copied valuable proprietary software. He also intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks, and broke into and read private e-mails. He didn’t refer to his hacking activities as ‘hacking’ and instead called them ‘social engineering’.
In1995, Mitnick was eventually caught and convicted with a five-year prison sentence. After fully serving those years, he became a consultant, author and public speaker for computer security. He does security consulting for Fortune 500 companies and the FBI, performs penetration testing services for the world’s largest companies and teaches Social Engineering classes to dozens of companies and government agencies. He now runs Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC.
3. Kevin Poulson
Also known as “Dark Dante”, became famous when he hacked into the phone lines of Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM and fixed himself as the 102nd winning caller to earn a Porsche. He also reactivated old Yellow Page escort telephone numbers for an acquaintance and ran a virtual escort agency. Poulson even appeared on the US television Unsolved Mysteries as a fugitive and earned his 15 minutes of fame by utilizing his intricate knowledge of telephone systems. He also hacked into a federal investigation database and stole wiretap information. With this, he got himself into FBI’s wanted list and later got captured from a supermarket. He was pleaded guilty, fined and sentenced to 4 years and 3 months in prison.
After releasing from prison in 1995, he began working as a journalist and is now a senior editor for Wired. In 2006, he even helped law enforcement to identify 744 sex offenders on MySpace.
4. Adrian Lamo
Adrian Lamo was named as ‘the homeless hacker’ because he used internet connection at coffee shops, libraries and internet cafés as his bases for hacking. Most of his illicit activities involved penetration testing, in which he breaks into computer networks to find flaws in security and then reporting on their vulnerabilities to the companies that owned them. His hits include Yahoo!, Bank of America, Citigroup and Cingular. Lamo’s biggest claim to fame came when he broke into the intranet of the New York Times and added his name to their database of experts and viewed personal information on contributors, including Social Security numbers. He also hacked into LexisNexis account to gain access to the confidential details of high-profile subjects.
In August 2003, an arrest warrant was issued after The New York Times filed a complaint. After spending a few days in hiding, he surrendered himself to the US Marshals in Sacramento, California. He again re-surrendered to the FBI in New York City on September 11. He was pleaded guilty for the crimes against Microsoft, LexisNexis, and The New York Times on January 8, 2004. He was fined, sentenced to six months of home confinement and two years of probation. Lamo is currently working as an award-winning journalist and public speaker.
5. Stephen Wozniak
Before being famous as co-founder of Apple, Wozniak spent his youth as a hacker. While studying at University of California, he made device called ‘blue boxes’ that bypass telephone-switching mechanisms which allowed him to make free long-distance phone calls without paying a dime. He later started to sell these devices to his classmates. After dropping out of the university, he began to work on an idea for a computer and formed Apple Computer with his friend Steve Jobs.
Now, Wozniak no longer works fulltime for Apple and is focusing more on philanthropy. He is noted as fairy godfather to the Los Gatos, Calif. School District, providing students and teachers with hands-on teaching and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment. He has been awarded with the National Medal of Technology, honorary doctorates from Kettering University and Nova Southeastern University. Additionally, Woz was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in September 2000.
6. Robert Tappan Morris
Robert is known as the creator of the world’s first known computer worm. In 1988, as a student of Cornell University, he created a computer virus named ‘Morris Worm’ which infected around 6,000 major Unix machines by making it crash and completely unusable. Millions of dollars of damage were estimated from it. Later, he clarified that his worm virus wasn’t intended to damage anything but to gauge the size of the internet. But it didn’t help him and with this, he became the first person to be convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was captured, fined, and sentenced to three years’ probation with 400 hours of community service. The disk that used to write the worm is now available in Boston science museum. He eventually founded Y Combinator and is now a tenured professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
7. Jonathan James
Also known as “c0mrade,” Jonathan started hacking at his early young age. At the age of 16, he became the first juvenile to be sent to prison for hacking. He managed to hack into several commercial and government networks. His major intrusions targeted high-profile organizations. He installed a backdoor into a Defense Threat Reduction Agency server. (The DTRA is an agency of the Department of Defense charged with reducing the threat to the U.S. and its allies from nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional and special weapons). The backdoor he created enabled him to view sensitive emails and capture employee usernames and passwords.
Not only this he hacked into NASA network and stole software worth approximately $1.7 million to learn how International Space Station works. NASA was forced to shut down its computer systems for three weeks to investigate the breach which added additional $41,000 cost. As he was juvenile, on the basis of his intrusions, he was banned from recreational computer use and was slated to serve a six-month sentence under house arrest with probation. However, he served six months in prison for violation of parole.
In 2007, several high-profile companies fell victim to numerous malicious network attacks. Even though James denied any involvement, he was suspected and investigated. In 2008, James committed suicide, believing he would be convicted of crimes he didn’t commit.
8. Tsutomu Shimomura
Shimomura reached fame in an unfortunate manner. In 1994, he was hacked by Kevin Mitnick. Mitnick stole some of his personal files and published it online. Following this personal attack, he made sure that Kevin Mitnick was convicted. Shimomura then collaborated with FBI and helped them to arrest Mitnick. He out-hacked Mitnick to bring him down. Using Mitnick’s cell phone and technician from the phone company, he helped FBI to track him near Raleigh-Durham International Airport. After a while, Mitnick was arrested. Following this pursuit, Shimomura wrote a book about the incident with journalist John Markoff, which was later turned into a movie.
9. Loyd Blankenship
Also known as “The Mentor”, Blankenship was an active hacker since the 1970s. He was a member of several hacking groups in the past, most notably Legion of Doom (LOD), who battled for supremacy online against the Masters of Deception. But he rosed to fame as an author of the Hacker Manifesto (also known as Mentor’s Last Words and Conscience of a Hacker), which he wrote after being arrested in 1986. The essay states that a hacker’s only crime is curiosity and is looked at as not only a moral guide by hackers up to today. It has come to be seen as a cornerstone of hacker philosophy. It was reprinted in Phrack magazine and even made its way into the 1995 film Hackers, which starred Angelina Jolie.
In 1989, Blankenship was hired by Steve Jackson Games to work on GURPS Cyberpunk. He has given up on hacking, and now lives as a musician and freelance game developer.
10. Linus Torvalds
Torvalds fathered Linux, the very popular Unix-based operating system. He started his hacking in computers with a Commodore VIC-20, an 8-bit home computer and then moved to Sinclair QL. Wikipedia reports that he modified the Sinclair “extensively, especially its operating system.” Specifically, Torvalds hacks included his own text editor program and few games.
In 1991, Torvalds got hold of an Intel 80386 PC and started working to create the Linux kernel, using the Minix operating system as inspiration. The success of this public invitation to contribute code for Linux is touted as one of the most prominent examples of free/open source software.
Currently, Torvalds serves as the Linux ringleader, coordinating the code that volunteer programmers contribute to the kernel. He has had an asteroid named after him and received honorary doctorates from Stockholm University and University of Helsinki. He was also featured in Time Magazine’s “60 Years of Heroes.”