Who are these Infamous Hackers? And what do they want?
When you think of a hacker, most people imagine a lonesome figure aglow by a single computer screen, frantically typing some matrix-like script in an anonymous subterranean basement. But Hackers and their motives are as varied and broad as ‘hacking’ itself.
Someone who manipulates a system in new and unexpected ways. They can be budding programming savants, vandals seeking personal fortune, or digital vigilantes dishing out justice on their own terms.
In the short period of time computing has been around, a number of these “creative problem solvers” have hacked digital systems for their own ends; Below we’ve listed the Top 5 Most Infamous Hackers of all time.
1. Kevin Mitnick
Despite being denied access to a telephone upon arrest, for fear he’d launch Nuclear War by whistling code, the world’s most wanted cyber criminal in 1995 never used his stolen information for financial gain or to cause any harm.
This self-described “Merry Prankster” saw himself as “James Bond behind a computer screen”. By the time he was caught Mitnick had hacked over 35 systems including companies such as Motorola, Nokia, and Sun Microsystems.
2. Gary Mckinnon
The hunt for ET led Mr. Mckinnon, also known as ‘solo’, to commit one of the largest cyber attacks on a military system in history. His hunt for ET led him to break into over 97 US military and NASA computer systems. The cost estimates of damages ranged around $700,000.
In an interview with the BBC, Mckinnon claims he found evidence of alien life including a list of ‘non-terristrial beings’ and a photo of an extraterristrial spaceship in the shape of a cigar.
3. Albert Gonzalez
At just 28 years old, Albert Gonzalez had amassed a fortune from his credit card theft system dubbed “Opertion Get Rich or Die Tryin”. The son of Cuban refugees, 12 year old Gonzalez purchased his first PC with his own money. Within two years he managed to hack into NASA, prompting a visit by FBI agents to his South Miami high school.
By the time he was prosecuted for the largest computer- crime case in US history, Gonzalez had stolen over 180 million credit and debit card numbers from well- known companies such as TJ Maxx, Target, Office Max, etc. His exploits include throwing a $75,000 birthday party, for himself, and burying $1 million dollars in his parents’ backyard.
4.Matthew Bevan & Richard Pryce
In 1994 US Military Officials were alarmed to find a group of hackers had infiltrated their computer systems. A 16 year old Pryce and 21 year old Bevan caused an international incident when they stole such sensitive information such as US battlefield simulations and gained access to a Korean Atomic Research Institute. Initially the attack on the Atomic Institute was thought to have taken place in North Korea. Fortunately this was incorrect — because these attacks seemed to come from US military systems, an attack on North Korea may have been seen as an “Act of War”.
The investigation revealed that Bevan and Price were not sophisticated hackers. Military officers were ordered to use complex passwords to access their system. One officer, however, chose to use his pet ferret’s name – “Carmen” – as a password instead. This lapse in security allowed Pryce to access the US Military system and, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “cause more damage than the KGB”.
Little is known about ‘Astra’, the net alias of the hacker who spent more than five years stealing high-profile weapons technology data and software. He sold this information to at least 250 people in organizations across Brazil, South Africa, and the Middle East. No one knows how much money he was able to make, but damages estimate upwards of $360 million dollars.
Although Astra was eventually arrested in 2008, his identity has been kept secret by Greek authorities. He is rumored to be a 58 year old mathematician.