What is Kevin Mitnick famous for?

The six most famous hackers

John Draper aka "Captain Crunch"

John Draper, son of a US Air Force engineer, is considered a pioneer hacker. In 1969, he found out that the toy whistle that was included with the Cap'n Crunch breakfast cereal as a promotional gift produced a sound with a frequency of 2,600 hertz. At that time, this tone frequency was used in the AT&T telephone network to enable long-distance calls. If he whistled into the telephone receiver with the toy whistle, he could make free phone calls. Draper was nicknamed "Captain Crunch" and his trick he christened "Phreaking", a combination of the words phone (telephone) and freak (outsider). He then tinkered with the so-called blue box, which produced the 2600 Hertz sound, and thus inspired the first computer hackers (see article “A brief overview of the history of hacking”).


Kevin Mitnick aka "le Condor"

Kevin Mitnick is without a doubt the most famous hacker. In 1980, the then seventeen year old broke into the Pacific Bell switchboard and redirected several phone lines for personal use. He was sent to an educational institution for three months.

In 1983, he hacked into a Pentagon computer from his university in Southern California using the Internet forerunner ARPAnet. For this he had to serve a six-month sentence in the juvenile detention center. In the following years he also hacked the data systems of Fujitsu, Motorola, Nokia and Sun Microsystems. After he had been on the run since 1989, he was arrested by the FBI in 1995 and sentenced to five years in prison. Kevin Mitnick is now a consultant in the field of data security.



Gary McKinnon aka "Solo"

Gary McKinnon is a British hacker. Believing the U.S. Army was using alien technology, he looked for evidence by hacking into 97 NASA, Air Force, and Pentagon computers between 2001 and 2002. According to American authorities, he carried out the "largest IT attack on military computers". McKinnon's attacks damaged and blocked multiple data systems, causing a total of $ 700,000 in damage. He is still resisting extradition to the United States, where he faces up to 70 years in prison.


Kevin Poulsen aka "Dark Dante"

Kevin Poulsen was seventeen when he began his hacking career by breaking into the Arpanet - the network then reserved for the army, major universities and businesses (the forerunner of today's Internet). Then he successfully hacked into the Masnet, the network of ground troops, among other things. He was arrested in 1989 but escaped shortly before his trial began. In the 17 months of his escape, he achieved his greatest success: he took control of all telephone lines on the radio station KIIS-FM to ensure that he won first prize, a Porsche, in the station's competition. In 1991 he was arrested again and sentenced to 51 months in prison without parole. Today he is editor-in-chief of “Wired” magazine.


Vladimir Levin aka "Vlad"

The Russian mathematician is famous for perpetrating the largest virtual bank robbery. In 1994 he penetrated the international banking network SWIFT and thus gained access to the largest accounts of the American Citybank. Levin electronically siphoned off more than ten million dollars, which he transferred to accounts in the United States, Israel, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. He hired three accomplices to collect the booty. They could all be arrested while trying to withdraw the stolen money. In the course of the criminal investigation, Levin was finally tracked down and arrested in London in 1995. He was extradited to the United States and sentenced to three years in prison in 1998.


Julian Assange

Julian Assange is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks (see article on hacktivists). The Australian hacktivist became known under the pseudonym "Mendax" for his activities with the hacker group "International Subversives". He laid down the basic rules of the hacking group: it is forbidden to damage the hacked computer or to change the data of the hacked system, the information collected must be shared with the group. Nevertheless, he was arrested in Australia in 1992; the charges were for 31 hacking attacks, including breaking into the networks of the US Air Force and the telecommunications provider Nortel. Assange was sentenced to a token fine of $ 2,100 and dismissed for good conduct.