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Top 10 Most Notorious Hackers of All Time

  • Kevin Mitnick

    An influential figure in American hacking history, Kevin Mitnick began his "career" as a teenager. In 1981 he was charged with stealing computer manuals from Pacific Bell. In 1982 he hacked into the North American Defense Command (NORAD) - a hack that inspired the 1983 film "WarGames". In 1989, he hacked the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) network and made copies of its software. Since DEC was a leading computer manufacturer at the time, Mitnick achieved first notoriety. He was later arrested, sentenced, and detained. While on parole, he hacked Pacific Bell's mailbox systems.

    During his hacking career, Mitnick never exploited the access or data that he hacked. Although many believe that he even had complete control over Pacific Bell's network, Mitnick did not want to exploit the results, just prove that it was possible. An arrest warrant was issued against him for the incident at Pacific Bell. However, he escaped and hid for more than two years. When caught, he was again behind bars on multiple wire transfer and computer fraud cases. Mitnick eventually became a "good" hacker, but according to Wired, he opened Mitnick's Absolute Zero Day Exploit Exchange in 2014, an exchange that sells unpatched, critical software exploits to the highest bidder.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous started in 2003 in a nameless forum on the message board "4chan". The group has little organizational structure and is vaguely focused on the concept of social justice. So, in 2008, the group took on the Church of Scientology and began deactivating their websites, affecting Google search results and overloading the church's fax machines with completely black images. In March 2008, groups of "Anons" ran up in front of various Scientology centers around the world wearing the now famous Guy Fawkes mask. According to The New Yorker, while the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have been able to identify some of the more productive members of the group, the lack of hierarchy makes it impossible to get rid of Anonymous entirely.

  • Adrian Lamo

    In 2001, 20-year-old Adrian Lamo used an unprotected content management tool from Yahoo to manipulate a Reuters article and add a false quote from former prosecutor, John Ashcroft. Often times, Lamo would hack systems and then notify the press and victims - in some cases even helping to clean up the mess to improve their security. However, according to Wired, in 2002 Lamo went too far when he hacked the New York Times intranet, added himself to the list of experts, and began researching key public figures. Since he liked to travel only with a backpack and often had no fixed address, he gradually got the nickname “The Homeless Hacker”, meaning the homeless hacker.

    In 2010, 29-year-old Lamo learned that he had Asperger's Syndrome (AS), a mild form of autism. This is often referred to as "geek syndrome" because people with AS often have problems with simple social interactions and therefore often behave in a strange or highly focused manner. Many experts believe that the disease explains Lamo's entry into the world of hacking: Asperger's syndrome is widespread in the hacking community.

  • Albert Gonzalez

    According to the New York Daily News, Gonzalez - who is also known as "Soupnazi" - got his start as "a troubled leader of a group of computer nerds" at his high school in Miami. Eventually he became a member of the criminal commercial site "Shadowcrew.com" and was considered one of their best hackers and moderators. At the age of 22, Gonzalez was arrested in New York for credit card fraud linked to data theft from millions of accounts. To avoid incarceration, he worked as an informant for the Secret Service and ultimately helped indict dozens of shadow crew members.

    During his tenure as a paid informant, Gonzalez and a group of allies continued 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