Kevin Mitnick, often incorrectly called by many as god of hackers, broke into the computer systems of the world’s top technology and telecommunications companies Nokia, Fujitsu, Motorola, and Sun Microsystems. He was arrested by the FBI in 1995, but later released on parole in 2000. He never termed his activity hacking, instead he called it social engineering.
Englishman Gary McKinnon was arrested in November 2002 following an accusation that he hacked into more than 90 US military computer systems in the UK. He is currently undergoing trial in a British court for a “fast-track extradition” to the US where he is a wanted man. The next hearing in the case is slated for today.
Russian computer geek Vladimir Levin effected what can easily be called The Italian Job online – he was the first person to hack into a bank to extract money. Early 1995, he hacked into Citibank and robbed $10 million. Interpol arrested him in the UK in 1995, after he had transferred money to his accounts in the US, Finland, Holland, Germany and Israel.
When a Los Angeles area radio station announced a contest that awarded a Porsche 944S2 for the 102nd caller, Kevin Poulsen took control of the entire city’s telephone network, ensured he is the 102nd caller, and took away the Porsche beauty. He was arrested later that year and sentenced to three years in prison. He is currently a senior editor at Wired News.
Kevin Poulsen again. A little-known incident when Poulsen, then just a student, hacked into Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet was hacked into. Arpanet was a global network of computers, and Poulsen took advantage of a loophole in its architecture to gain temporary control of the US-wide network.
US hacker Timothy Lloyd planted six lines of malicious software code in the computer network of Omega Engineering which was a prime supplier of components for NASA and the US Navy. The code allowed a “logic bomb” to explode that deleted software running Omega’s manufacturing operations. Omega lost $10 million due to the attack.
Twenty-three-year-old Cornell University graduate Robert Morris unleashed the first Internet worm on to the world. Morris released 99 lines of code to the internet as an experiment, but realised that his program infected machines as it went along. Computers crashed across the US and elsewhere. He was arrested and sentenced in 1990.
The Melissa virus was the first of its kind to wreak damage on a global scale. Written by David Smith (then 30), Melissa spread to more than 300 companies across the world completely destroying their computer networks. Damages reported amounted to nearly $400 million. Smith was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.
MafiaBoy, whose real identity has been kept under wraps because he is a minor, hacked into some of the largest sites in the world, including eBay, Amazon and Yahoo between February 6 and Valentine’s Day in 2000. He gained access to 75 computers in 52 networks, and ordered a Denial of Service attack on them. He was arrested in 2000.
They called themselves Masters of Deception, targeting US phone systems. The group hacked into the National Security Agency, AT&T, and Bank of America. It created a system that let them bypass long-distance phone call systems, and gain access to the pbx of major carriers.