Hackers aren’t all terrible, despite their portrayal by Hollywood. In fact, white-hat hackers are the nice guys who employ hacking to improve computer security. Gray-hat hackers are those who are just having a good time.
But what about the malicious kind? They are referred to as black-hat hackers. Despite being the finest at what they do, history has proven that they can inflict a lot of harm. Here are some of the most famous “Black Hatters” and what they did to acquire their notoriety and where they are now.
1. Kevin Mitnick
Kevin Mitnick was formerly the most sought computer criminal in the history of the United States. He stole computer manuals from Pacific Bell, hacked the North American Defense Command, and hacked the Digital Equipment Corporation network, among other things.
In the early days of hacking, Kevin Mitnik was one of the most famous and notorious hackers around. He was responsible for some of the most audacious and high-profile hacks in history, including breaking into the digital network of a major US telecom company and stealing millions of dollars’ worth of software.
Mitnik’s skills as a hacker were so legendary that he was featured in an article in Wired magazine in 1994, which dubbed him “the world’s most wanted computer fugitive”.
Despite his notoriety, Mitnik always claimed that he never caused any damage with his hacking – he simply wanted to see if he could do it. In 1995, he was caught and sentenced to five years in prison.
This formerly prominent hacker opted to become a white hat hacker and establish his own consulting business after serving five years in jail.
2. Julian Assange
Julian Assange is an Australian computer programmer, editor, and founder of wikileaks. Julian Assange began his hacking career when he was 16 years old, using the alias “Mendax.” He has gained access to several political, educational, and business networks. He has been described as a controversial figure, but this depends on whom you ask.
Assange founded wikileaks in 2006 and has been its editor-in-chief since then. The site has published leaked documents that have resulted in political scandals. Wikileaks is a site that publishes leaked information. It was founded by Julian Assange in 2006. The site has been involved in many high-profile leaks, including classified documents from the U.S. government, emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta, and more. WikiLeaks has been praised by some for its role in holding powerful institutions accountable, while others have criticized the site for publishing sensitive information that could harm national security.
This well-known hacker is well recognized for founding WikiLeaks in 2006. He was residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, but was transferred to HM Prison Belmarsh, where he is being investigated by the US.
3. Gary McKinnon
Gary McKinnon, often known as “Solo,” was the mastermind behind a number of hacking projects, but it is unclear if he was hired online of if he did the hacking on his own initiative.
McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish systems administrator and hacker who was accused in 2002 of the biggest military computer hack of all time.
He allegedly gained access to several computers belonging to NASA and the US Armed Forces and deleted various vital data.
He currently resides in the United Kingdom, but he may face up to 70 years in prison for his crimes if extradited to the United States.
4. Jonathan James
Jonathan James hacker was born on December 12, 1983, in Garland, Texas. He was a self-taught computer programmer and became interested in computers at an early age. James dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to pursue a career in computer programming.
James, also known as “c0mrade,” began hacking computers at the age of 15. He hacked into commercial and government networks.
In 2000, at the age of 17, Jonathan James hacked into several high-profile websites, including those of NASA and the Department of Defense. He was caught and sentenced to six months in a juvenile detention center. After his release, he continued to hack into other systems, eventually leading to his arrest again in 2002. This time, he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
In 2007, he was suspected of a slew of network assaults. Although, he claimed that he was not involved and finally committed suicide to avoid being wrongly accused. He died on May 18, 2008, still maintaining his innocence.
5. Kevin Poulsen
Kevin Poulsen is a renowned hacker who has been involved in some of the most high-profile hacking cases in history.
Poulsen began his career as a teenage hacker in the 1980s, breaking into government and military computer systems. When he was 17 years old, Kevin Poulsen used the alias “Dark Dante” to get into the Pentagon’s computer network. In 1990, he hacked a radio station’s phone lines to win sweepstakes.
After his release, Poulsen turned his attention to more mundane targets, such as corporate computer systems. In 2005, he hacked into the computer systems of major US retailers such as Target and TJX Companies, stealing millions of credit card numbers.
Poulsen was eventually caught and sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in 2013 and now works as a security consultant.
After serving time in prison, he became a writer and now writes about computer security for Wired magazine.
The five hackers listed above are widely recognized across the world. Aside from that, hiring hackers is a thriving industry on the dark web, and hackers are in high-demand without any signs of slowing down.