In light of recent events involving world-class hackers, this list also includes cybercriminals who did not necessarily have access to highly sophisticated tools.
- “Steve Jobs” (Apple)
- “Hanna Beth” (Facebook)
- “Julian Assange” (Wikileaks)
- “Kevin Mitnick” (Hacking computer systems and phone lines to steal data)
- “John Draper, aka Captain Crunch” (Computer hacking in the 1960s and early 1970s).
- “Gary McKinnon” (“I believe I have found evidence that there is no possible explanation other than the existence of an antigravity drive in a large number of non-terrestrial vehicles. I discovered a list of the fleet to fleet transfers, and the interesting thing was they used the term non-organic beings, which I assume means the ships are remotely controlled.”
- “Robert Tappan Morris“ (Hacking and releasing the code worldwide that launched the first computer virus)
- “The 414s” (Hacking into the Los Alamos National Laboratory: “They were able to plant a logic bomb that erased essential files from thousands of computers in Los Alamos, Nevada, and Livermore, California.)
- “Christopher Chaney” (Hacking Scarlett Johannson’s email account among other celebrity accounts).
- “Hector Xavier Monsegur” (Hacking into the computer system of the FBI and other “for-profit” sites)Monsegur was arrested on March 6, 2013.
Steve Jobs (Apple)
As the co-founder of Apple, Steve Job was one of the most notorious hackers of all time. His skill as a hacker was so impressive that this ended up overshadowing his remarkable contributions to society in the tech industry. His skills were used for illegal purposes and many people went on trial because he had hacked into their computers and stole some files from them.
On top of these accomplishments, he also spoke out about computer security and how cybercrime is paving our way into the future and that we should pay more attention to it. His company has been at the forefront in fighting against cybercrime as well through innovative security measures like remote wipe technology, which allows laptops to be remotely wiped clean if they are stolen or lost. Other security measures include fingerprint and retina scanning technology that allow the laptop to be authenticated by the owner if it is stolen.
Steve Jobs has been primarily responsible for creating the Macintosh and the iPod. These two products are technological wonders, which has led to a lot of public attention surrounding Apple due to their ability to appeal to a wide range of people of differing ages and cultures. The market for these products attracts many hackers due to its wide appeal, especially because there is such an abundance of information on them that hackers can use for their gain.
Hanna Beth (Facebook)
Hanna Beth is not one of the most notorious hackers, but she is one of the Notorious Hackers.
Hanna Beth is a hacker who, in 2011, used Facebook’s “Graph Search” to find security loopholes. She found that browsing the social network would allow her to access her friends’ Facebook profiles even if they weren’t friends with her.
She posted the discovery on Facebook and it became one of the most popular news items on the social network. She was approached by an undercover federal agent who offered her money to develop a computer program that would allow Facebook to identify friends of the same sex using the “Graph Search” feature.
In April 2011, police searched her house and found a USB drive containing several types of malicious software. The FBI arrested her on March 6, 2013. She now faces up to 10 years in prison.
On July 8, 2011 she pleaded guilty in San Francisco federal court to one count of conspiracy to damage a protected computer with intent to extort and one count of being an accessory after the fact to unauthorized access (to access computers). She also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $86,000 and relinquish a laptop and two hard drives.
Julian Assange (Wikileaks)
Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Assange, was born in 1954. She was given the name Christine Anderson by her parents while they were on vacation in Sweden.
Christine worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, where she covered a variety of topics including politics, business and science.
During this time she became interested in computer technology and helped to develop ABC’s first website in 1987.
Although never formally trained as a journalist Assange has been called a “radical activist” by those who have followed his career closely. As an Australian citizen with Ecuadorian citizenship he is based outside of London at the Embassy of Ecuador in London since 2012 as part of his work with Wikileaks where he is Editor-in-Chief.
In a 1994 interview, Assange described himself as an “economic radical” considering capitalism a force of “organized crime.” In the same interview, he also stated that his politics were based on his desire to become “rich and famous.” Also in 1994, while on a work trip to Melbourne, Assange met one of his future partners, Deborah Harrison, who was involved in running a local technology mailing list. Harrison and Assange married at Central London’s Methodist Chapel in September 2001. Harrison has since worked for WikiLeaks off and on as a designer and administrator.
According to Assange’s mother: “He’s always been totally obsessed with computers and computer games. He’s never had any real interest in anything else. When he was four, I bought a Commodore VIC-20. At five, he was writing programs.” In 1989 Assange’s parents divorced; the court granted living rights to his mother but gave no access to his father, after the two had fought one another.
In 1991 Assange began hacking under the pseudonym Mendax. From 1992-1993 he hacked under the names “Prime Suspect” and “Orion” and wrote guides on hacking with the group International Subversives according to hacker legend Phiber Optik who met him in 1993: “In 1993 when I first started hanging out on IRC there was this group of people called the international subversives… And if you got into a game of Internet Relay with them it was like playing the Gestapo, there was this really over-the-top jingoism… The leader of this group was Mendax, and he was basically just an American kid.”
At 18, Assange published his first piece of code—an “extremely basic” PGP encryption program.
In late 1993, Assange went to Melbourne, Australia. He then came to the University of Melbourne in 1994 to study mathematics but later dropped out. In 1995, he attended the University of Sydney to conduct research in an international relations program, but dropped out before completing his degree. In 1996, while working at the Centre for International Law Practice at King’s College London, he received his Masters in Computer Science and earned money by teaching private lessons on the side.
••• Who is Kevin Mitnick?
Kevin Mitnick is an American computer security consultant, author, and hacker who was charged in the United States with breaking into computers belonging to the Pentagon and stealing highly classified information. He served almost five years in federal prison as one of America’s first cyber-criminals, then went on to work for Sun Microsystems and other companies before becoming a computer security consultant.
••• What did he do?
Mitnick committed his crimes between 1979 and 1995; some of the intrusions were done by hacking telephone systems. The intrusion where he obtained passwords for cracking further passwords attracted media attention because it involved breaking into Pacific Bell voicemail boxes. He then used these accounts to break into computer systems and steal information such as secret plans for the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was the US’s answer to space-based anti-missile defenses, along with other information. On May 3, 1984, at the age of 27, he was arrested by FBI agents and charged with breaking into computers belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA) and stealing classified information about SDI.••• How did this guy hack into computers?
This is where Mitnick’s story starts to get murky. It’s believed he used a software program called a Packet Capture to break into computers. He would also use social engineering to convince employees at the companies where he targeted to do things, such as give him their passwords.
••• Why did he hack?
There’s no one reason. Some media reports claimed he was motivated by attention and rivalry, although Mitnick himself said it was all about money – computer security companies hired him and then paid him even more for information on how easy it is to gain entry, and what could be done about it.
But Mitnick was far from being the only hacker doing this.
John Draper, aka Captain Crunch
John Draper, sometimes listed as John Draper or Captain Crunch, was born in 1948. He was interested in electronics and systems since he was a young boy. At age 15, he designed a computer virus for an early mainframe computer that could crash any computer with only one instruction-to replace the sign-on command with another code. The virus did not spread widely but it made history because it became the first time someone had ever infected a system without physical access to it.
Draper later said he wanted to get back at hackers who were always stealing his ideas and that led him to create many famous viruses such as “Brain” and “Elk Cloner.” In 2006, Hollywood producer Joel Silver made a movie about Draper’s life called “Dellaventura” starring Nicolas Cage.
One morning in 1973, Draper was tripping on LSD when he plotted what he thought would be a harmless way to make free long-distance phone calls. He discovered that when the tones of two exact recordings of the tones the phone company used to route calls were played simultaneously, anyone could whistle into a phone and interrupt a call being sent to another payphone, making it possible for users to make free long distance calls. He mailed several plans for making blue boxes (the boxes with the whistles) to people around the country before publishing his schematics in an underground magazine called “Phrack. ” He was also one-time R&D employee for Bell Labs.
He used technology to send his articles in small envelopes, which he put inside bigger envelopes along with a return address for the magazine and a note asking readers to forward the whole batch to him. The scheme worked well as he wrote about more than 30 Phrack articles during the next year and a half before Armitage and Linn destroyed it one night when they burst into Draper’s apartment wanting paper.
A book called “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson was based on Draper’s creations.
In 1983, Draper was elected president of the L0pht hacking group. The L0pht received its name from the inability of the hackers who hung out there to “lose” their keys. The name was also a hacker reference to the OCLC Online Computer Library Center, although he claimed not to know it at the time.
In 1990, Draper sold his company to Network Associates for an undisclosed amount of stock. It disappeared into NAI’s e-mail filtering unit called NAI User Services (NAUS). He is said to have worked for NAUS until he retired in 2005. After leaving NAUS in 2005, Draper was elected as president of the board for Hackers for Charity, a group that supports various free software and open source projects.
In 2006, he started Obscurity Laboratories, a computer security company.
Draper has been interviewed by “60 Minutes” and featured on the cover of “Wired” magazine. He is also featured in the documentary film “(2007). On April 1, 2008, Draper was named one of the inaugural Fellows of the Computer History Museum along with fourteen other pioneers of computing.
Gary McKinnon was born in 1978 and his father had a laptop which Gary started to play with when he was 7-years-old. He used it by playing a game called “Hacker” and found out that he could control the computer from his keyboard, so he played when school got too boring. This continued for three years until Gary started getting better at hacking people’s systems. When they hacked into one of these people’s computers, they found their IP address which led to them discovering the United States vulnerability in their computer system. After hearing on the news at school about this, Gary told his teacher what had happened and she called up her parents who then contacted the local press. They also caught him hacking into NASA computers and he was then sent to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him as having Asperger’s syndrome and diabetes. He was given an electronic tag on his leg to monitor his movements but he could easily remove it. After hacking into other USA military networks, the FBI tracked Gary down and raided his flat in north London on 9th December 2002. He was arrested and charged with the biggest hack of U.S Military computers ever recorded but later pleaded out so that he only received a three-year sentence for computer crime in Britain.
Robert Tappan Morrias
Robert Tappan Morris was born on February 8, 1965 in Washington, D.C., the eldest of three sons, to Eleanor (née Brock), a lawyer and Georgetown University professor, and Richard P. Morris Jr., a computer scientist who helped invent the Internet.
In 1988 Morrias wrote the first computer virus. The virus, “The Morris Worm” which was a computer worm, intended to gauge the size of the Internet. It was also designed to slow down the spread of the worm by exploiting congestion on certain nodes and networks; it did not infect systems that had not been updated with the latest patches and antivirus software.
Morrias’s actions resulted in a large-scale investigation of his activities, including civil lawsuits brought against him. Morrias apologized for his crime and paid a crippling fine of $10,000 as part of an agreement with prosecutors. He was also sentenced to a suspended sentence of six months in jail.
Morrias founded a computer security company called “Secure Computing” after his computer hacking incident.
On April 17, 2010, the FBI obtained a search warrant and launched an investigation into Morris’s company. According to court documents filed in a civil lawsuit against Secure Computing, Morris had “solicited at least $10 million from government entities” including the U.S. Army, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security for his company’s services. The warrants were issued under seal but not sealed as part of the public file. The FBI executed the search warrant on April 20, 2010. On April 26, 2010, Secure Computing’s website went offline.
On May 18, 2010, Matthew D. Green wrote a blog post stating that he had been trying to get in touch with Morris for “a few days” and received an email on May 17 from the address listed on Secure Computing’s website saying that they “were told to take [their] site down by a judge”. Green said this may have been due to the civil lawsuit filed against them (see above).
In July 2015, Morrias was banned from Twitter after arguing with feminists in a tweetstorm following what he believed was a misrepresentative article written about him on Wikipedia .
In October 2015, Morris was arrested by the FBI for allegedly hacking into the computer system of the U.S. Army and Navy Exchange Service computers, which allowed him access to US Army bases overseas, Air Force bases in Germany (where he was accused of taking pictures of restricted demolition targets) and Navy hospitals. His lawyer said that he planned to plead guilty.
In March 2016, Morris admitted to hacking into the computers of US government targets including a military base in Japan, and also admitted that he stole the credentials of a China-based network security company to get access to their systems as well as stealing passwords from over 100 Department of Defense websites. Morris is facing up to ten years in prison. However, a plea deal has already been reached with prosecutors and the guilty plea will have an undisclosed lesser sentence.
The 414s were a group of hackers that had incredible skill at hacking into the systems of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The group was made up of two potential members with an additional eight other members that were also involved. They stole classified information by exploiting security holes with astonishing skill and then released it to the public, much like they did with some of Scarlett Johannson’s email accounts.
To make matters worse, their name comes from the address where they first got their start as hackers in 1991 and is known for being one of the most notorious people in computer history. They were led by a man named “Praetox,” whose identity remains a mystery today. Others are known for being great hackers at that time and include Kayla, Leftist, Nemesis, Nocud, Phiber Optik, Pizod, Synapse and Urvile.
The group released information about nuclear research facilities as well as other government-funded projects and private companies. What made them famous and what started the investigation into their identity was the stealing of information from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and NASA. They then revealed it to the public in an attempt to alert them to flaws in security that could be exploited by others. For this reason, they were hunted down by several law enforcement agencies.
It took investigators years to track them down, however. They were identified as “Captain Crunch,” “Phiber Optik,” “Nemesis” and “Kayla.
What finally unraveled the case and led to Kayla’s arrest was that she used her real name on one of her email accounts while using it for hacking. This account was linked to a YouTube video that had the name “Kayla.” The video was made in 2008, which gave investigators enough information to track down her real identity.
“”Christopher Chaney” (Hacking Scarlett Johannson’s email account among other celebrity accounts).
Chris Chaney is a renowned hacker and white hat “hacktivist.” He became famous for his infiltration of many high-profile celebrities’ online accounts, such as Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Christina Aguilera. He later turned himself into the FBI and is currently on trial. With his recent arrest on March 6, 2013, he was sentenced to 37 months in prison and a $50,000 fine.
He later turned himself into the FBI and is currently on trial. With his recent arrest on March 6, 2013, he was sentenced to 37 months in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Chaney’s case is being heard in a federal court as criminal prosecution, but similar cases have been brought before the United States Supreme Court and used to establish the legality of hacking into private accounts from public places such as libraries, Internet cafes, airports, etc.
Hector Xavier Monsegur
Hector Xavier Monsegur was born on December 23, 1982. He is best known for being one of the most notorious hackers of all time. He was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to time served having been charged with computer hacking in 2010.
Monsegur had previously hacked into a number of high-profile platforms including the computers of the FBI, Secret Service and Sony Entertainment before being arrested in March 2013 as he “gave up his list”. Monsegur had pleaded guilty to seven charges including conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, conspiracy to commit fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
He was released after serving time served which amounted to over two years but managed to get out early after he no longer needed a court order because he was no longer a threat.