The world wide web has no secrets for some people and has become just a toy in the hands of a few computer geniuses. These are the hackers – the so-called villains of the Internet, who employ malicious tools to gain the access to the desired information.
There are many notable hackers around the world, who have become famous for their shenanigans and the results of their exploits. In what follows, we put together a list of the most renowned hackers in the world.
1. Jonathan James
Known in the online world as “comrade”, 15-year-old Jonathan James was the first hacker In the USA who was imprisoned at a juvenile age for violating the cybercrime law. He was jailed for hacking into the computer networks and systems of companies like Bell South and institutions like the Miami-Dade School and the Department of Defense. He thus managed to gain access to confidential state information, such as the source code responsible for operating the International Space Station. All this cost NASA to shut down its system for three weeks and to pay an estimated $41,000. James was found dead after committing suicide on May 18, 2008.
2. Kevin Mitnick
Described by the US Department of Justice as “the most wanted computer criminal in United States history,” Kevin Mitnick is now an affluent entrepreneur and respected security consultant. However, in his heydey, Mitnick hacked into the computer systems of some of the world’s top technology and telecommunications companies, including Nokia, Fujitsu and Motorola, as well as the Pentagon.
He was arrested in 1995 and pleaded guilty to counts of wire fraud, computer fraud and illegal interception of a wire communication. He spent five years behind bars, which included eight months of solitary confinement, and after his release, he decided to change his ways and start afresh.
LulzSec, or Lulz Security, was a high-profile Black Hat computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for several cyber attacks, including the compromise of user accounts from Sony Pictures, hacking into News International, CIA, FBI, Scotland Yard, and more.
As for the members of the group, these were identified as Ryan Cleary, based in Essex and known online by his handle Viral; Jake Davis, known as Topiary; Mustafa Al-Bassam, from south London, nicknamed Tflow; Ryan Ackroyd, based in South Yorkshire, was Kayla, and their leader Sabu, who was actually New York-based Hector Xavier Monsegur, a Puerto Rican freelance programmer.
The group caused problems that cost the affected parties hundreds of thousands of pounds to fix, but they claimed they only wanted to gain attention, embarrass website owners and create awareness about the absence of efficient security against hackers.
4. Kevin Lee Poulsen
Poulsen’s most notorious hack was when he took over all telephone lines of Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM in order to make sure that he would be the 102nd caller and thus win a Porsche 944 S2. Additionally, under the hacker alias Dark Dante, Poulsen also reactivated old Yellow Page escort telephone numbers for a friend of his who was running a virtual escort agency. Authorities came after him when he hacked into a federal investigation database.
He was a fugitive for a while and even landed in the American so-called unsolved “File number XY … unsolved.” In 1991, he was under arrest for numerous charges and pleaded guilty. After he was released from prison, he distanced himself from his criminal past and is now a news editor at Wired.com.
5. Albert Gonzalez
Albert Gonzalez became notorious for allegedly committing the biggest and most controversial fraud in history. He is said to have masterminded and conducted a string of credit card thefts in the United States that brought him no less than 170 million US dollars.
Gonzalez stole from credit cards of unsuspecting users who were using internet banking. His deed was considered the biggest credit card theft in the history of mankind. He was sentenced to 20 years in Federal prison.
6. Gary Mckinnon
Gary Mckinnon, known by his online moniker “Solo”, is a Scottish hacker who coordinated what would become the largest military computer hack of all time. He hacked into 97 US armed forces and NASA computers between 2001 and 2002.
The hacker claimed he didn’t intend to do harm, but only searching for information related to free energy suppression and UFO activity cover-ups. However, he ended up deleting critical files, rendering over 300 computers inoperable and causing over $700,000 in damages within a period of just 24 hours. To this day, he still continues to fight against extradition to the United States.