Hacking costs businesses and consumers many millions of dollars a year.
According to Venture Beat, the frequency of attacks on US companies has led to a significant increase in the cost of cybersecurity.
Much of the problem is attributed to the advent of the Internet, as first-time hackers can find all the tools they need at virtually no cost.
However, this proliferation of attacks did not happen overnight but rather required the work of now-famous hackers who discovered critical vulnerabilities and exposed key weaknesses, laying the foundation for the law of the jungle on the Internet.
Here we offer you a review of the ten most famous hackers.
Most Infamous Hackers of All Time
Every single person on this list has made a splash in recent years due to their exploits in the cybercrime arena. What’s more, all of them have done it alone: later in this article, we will talk about hacker groups.
1) Kevin Mitnick
Kevin Mitnick, a representative figure of hacking in the United States, began his activities when he was still a teenager. In 1981, he was accused of stealing computer manuals from Pacific Bell.
In 1982, he hacked into the United States Defense Command (NORAD), which inspired the 1983 movie “War Games.” In 1989, he hacked into the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) network and made copies of its software. At the time, as DEC was a leading manufacturer of computer equipment, this move made Mitnick known.
Subsequently, he was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. During his probation period, he hacked into Pacific Bell’s voicemail systems. In the course of his hacking career, Mitnick did not use the access or data he obtained for personal gain.
Although it is generally believed that he eventually gained full control of the Pacific Bell network, Mitnick did not attempt to profit from the results; apparently, he just wanted to prove that he could do it.
A warrant was issued to arrest him for the incident with the Pacific Bell, but Mitnick fled and went into hiding for more than two years. When he was caught, he was sentenced to prison on multiple counts of wire and computer fraud.
2) Adrian Lamo
Lamo frequently hacked into systems and then notified the press and his victims; in some cases, he helped them solve the problem to improve their security.
However, as Wired points out, in 2002, Lamo went too far when he hacked into The New York Times intranet, put himself on the list of expert sources, and began conducting investigations into high-profile public figures.
Because he preferred to walk the streets carrying only a backpack and had no fixed address, Lamo earned the nickname “The Homeless Hacker.”
3) Albert González
According to the New York Daily News, González, nicknamed a “soupnazi,” began his career as the “leader of a bunch of troublesome computer geeks” at his Miami high school.
Later, he was active in the criminal trading site Shadowcrew.com and was considered one of its best hackers and moderators. At the age of 22, González was arrested in New York for debit card fraud related to the theft of data from millions of card accounts.
To avoid going to prison, he became an informant for the Secret Service and helped indict dozens of Shadowcrew members.
During his period as a paid informant, working with a group of accomplices, he resumed his criminal activities, stealing more than 180 million payment card accounts from companies including OfficeMax, Dave and Buster’s, and Boston Market.
The New York Times Magazine noted that González’s 2005 attack on the US store TJX was the first serial data breach of the credit card information.
This notorious hacker and his team used SQL injections to create backdoors into various corporate networks and stole an estimated $256 million from TJX alone.
When Gonzalez was convicted in 2015, the federal prosecutor noted that his human victimization was “unprecedented.”
4) Matthew Bevan y Richard Pryce
Matthew Bevan and Richard Pryce are a British hacking duo who hacked into numerous military networks in 1996, including that of Griffiss Air Force Base, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the Korean Institute for Atomic Research (KARI).
Bevan (Kuji) and Pryce (Datastream Cowboy) were accused of nearly unleashing a third world war after dumping KARI research data into US military systems.
Bevan claims that he wanted to prove a UFO conspiracy theory and, according to the BBC, his case parallels that of Gary McKinnon. Malicious intent or not, Bevan and Pryce showed that even military networks are vulnerable.
5) Jeanson James Ancheta
Jeanson James Ancheta was not interested in hacking systems to obtain credit card data or crashing networks to promote social justice. Jeanson James Ancheta was curious about the use of bots (software robots that can infect and ultimately control computer systems).
According to Ars Technica, he later rented this equipment to advertising companies and received direct payments for installing bots or adware on systems.
Ancheta was sentenced to 57 months in prison, marking the first time a hacker had been sent to jail for using botnet technology.
6) Michael Calce
In February 2000, 15-year-old Michael Calce, also known as “Mafiaboy,” figured out how to take control of university computer networks and used their combined resources to cause trouble for the number one search engine at the time, Yahoo.
Within a week, he also disrupted the networks of Dell, eBay, CNN, and Amazon using a dedicated denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that overwhelmed corporate servers and caused websites to crash.
Calce’s wake-up call was perhaps the one that most startled investors and defenders of the Internet. If the world’s largest website, valued at over $1 billion, could be hacked so easily, was any data online truly safe?
It is not an exaggeration to say that cybercrime legislation suddenly became a government priority because of the Calce attack.
7) Kevin Poulsen
In 1983, 17-year-old Poulsen, who used the nickname Dark Dante, hacked into the ARPANET, the Pentagon’s computer network, but was soon caught.
The government decided not to charge Poulsen, as he was a minor at the time, so they released him with a warning. Poulsen ignored this warning and resumed his hacking activities.
In 1988, Poulsen hacked into a federal computer and managed to access files on Ferdinand Marcos, the ousted president of the Philippines. When the authorities found out, he went into hiding.
However, during that period, he remained active, devoting himself to stealing government files and revealing secrets.
As he notes on his website, in 1990, he hacked into a radio station contest and ensured he was the 102nd listener to call in to win a Porsche zero-mile car, a vacation package, and $20,000.
Poulsen was soon arrested and banned from using a computer for three years. Since then, he has reinvented himself as a serious journalist writing about computer security as a senior editor at Wired.
8) Jonathan James
Under the alias cOmrade, Jonathan James hacked into the networks of numerous companies. However, according to The New York Times, what put the spotlight on him was the hacking of the US Department of Defense computers.
The most surprising thing is that, back then, James was only 15 years old. In an interview with PC Mag, James admitted that he was partially inspired by the book The Cuckoo’s Egg, which details the manhunt for a computer hacker in the 1980s.
His hacking activities allowed him to access more than 3,000 government employee messages, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.
In the year 2000, James was arrested and sentenced to six months of house arrest; furthermore, he was prohibited from using a computer for recreational purposes. In addition, he was sentenced to six months in prison for violating probation.
Jonathan James became the youngest person to be convicted of breaking cybercrime laws.
Finally, Johnathan James committed suicide with a firearm in 2008.
This hacker differs from the others on this list because he was never publicly identified.
However, according to The Register, some information about ASTRA has been published, such as that when he was captured by the authorities in 2008, it emerged that he was a 58-year-old Greek mathematician.
He allegedly hacked into the Dassault Group for almost five years. During that period, he stole technological software and data for advanced weapons that he sold to 250 people around the world.
His actions cost the Dassault Group $360 million in damages. No one knows for sure why his true identity has not been revealed, but the term Astra means “weapon” in Sanskrit.