Kevin Mitnick, world’s most famous hacker, has died
He was a genius, magician and businessman.
July 16, 2023 Kevin Mitnick, former hacker, who was once one of the most wanted computer criminals in the United States. The cybersecurity training company he co-founded and a funeral home in Las Vegas announced the news on Wednesday. He was 59 years old.
According to a company representative KnowBe4 Cathie Wattman, cause of death was complications from pancreatic cancer. He was treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after being diagnosed with the disease over a year ago, according to information from the King David Memorial Chapel & Cemetery in Las Vegas.
After serving a prison sentence for hacking and tampering with corporate computer networks, he was released in 2000 and began a new career as a security consultant, writer, and public speaker.
Mr. Mitnick was best known for a criminal operation in the 1990s that involved stealing thousands of data files and credit card numbers from computers across the country. He used his skills to break into the country’s telephone and cell networks, vandalizing government, corporate, and university computer systems.
Investigators of the time called him the “most wanted” computer hacker in the world.
In 1995, after more than two years of hunting, Mr. Mitnick was caught by the FBI and charged with illegal use of an accessible telephone device and computer fraud. “He allegedly had access to corporate trade secrets worth millions of dollars. He was a very big threat,” said Kent Walker, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, at the time.
In 1998, while Mr. Mitnick was awaiting sentencing, a group of supporters took over the New York Times website for several hours, forcing it to shut down.
The following year, Mr. Mitnick was found guilty of computer and wire fraud as part of an agreement with prosecutors and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. He was also prohibited from using a computer or cell phone without the permission of his bailiff for three years after his release.
Mr. Mitnick grew up in Los Angeles as the only child of divorced parents. He moved frequently and was somewhat lonely while learning tricks, according to his 2011 memoir The Ghost in the Wires.
At the age of 12, Mr. Mitnick learned to ride the bus for free using a $15 punch card and empty tickets scooped out of the trash, and at school he developed an obsession with the internal workings of telephone company switches and circuits.
At the age of 17, he penetrated various corporate computer systems and ended up confronting the authorities for these activities. This was the start of a ten-year cat-and-mouse game with law enforcement.
In his memoirs, Mr. Mitnick disputed many of the allegations made against him, including that he had hacked into government computer systems.
Mr Mitnick also claimed that he ignored the credit card numbers he received in his pursuit of the code. “Anyone who loves to play chess knows that it is enough to beat your opponent. You don’t have to plunder his kingdom or seize his assets to make it worth it,” he wrote in his book.