Espionage will never stop being fascinating. Through history, we have been treated to various stories, whether fictional or true, of characters breaking into lairs to steal secrets. Today, as businesses thrive and survive in the Information Age, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the information that establishments, companies, and even countries have become hot commodities that could affect people in a large scale.
Here, we will about 10 famous people (and groups) that have been known to exploit, manipulate, and use the information that they have gathered, illegally and legally, to their advantage. These people have been known to breach the security and the privacy of various sectors of society for various, and even at times, malevolent, reasons. These 10 of the greatest hackers of all time.
Adrian Lamo is infamous for breaching into the various high-profile security systems of The New York Times, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. He gained access to highly-sensitive databases which led to him being sentenced to two years on probation, and paying a fine of roughly $65,000. He is also known for turning in Chelsea Manning, who leaked classified US Army information via WikiLeaks.
Albert Gonzalez was infamous for the theft of over 170 million credit card and ATM numbers by hacking into several corporate systems from 2005 to 2007. He has also used these sensitive pieces of information for his own luxury. He confessed to his crimes and was arrested in the year 2010. He was then sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Syrian Electronic Army
The Syrian conflict has been covered by the media for over 5 years already, and the atrocities committed in it are not exclusive to the realms of violence. The Syrian Electronic Army, supporting Bashar al-Assad, was known for wreaking such havoc through DDoS attacks, all throughout various high-profile networks in the cyberspace. The targets included sites such as The New York Times, The Onion, The Huffington Post, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Robert Tappan Morris
Robert Tappan Morris created the first known computer worm that crashed almost 1/10th of the Internet back in 1988. His worm caused damage amounting to about $15 million. He was tracked down when it was discovered that he had been talking to various people before he released the worm. He became the first ever person who violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 1989. He was sentenced to 3 years on probation, 400 hours of community service, and paid a $10,050 fine.
Vladimir Levin breached Citibank’s systems and allegedly stole $10.7 million from their clients and transferred the money to his own accounts in the year 1994. He was arrested in March 1995 by the Scotland Yard. In 1998, he was sentenced to 3 years in jail, and ordered to make restitution of $240,015. Citibank was only able to recover $400,000 from the $10.7 million stolen from them.
Kevin Poulsen was notorious for hacking into the telephone line of a Los Angeles radio station, KIIS-FM, in an attempt to become the 102nd caller who would then win the prize of a Porsche 944 S2. He was sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary, and banned from using computers for 3 years after his release.
Gary McKinnon was infamous for what has been said as the biggest military hack of all time. In 2001-2002, he was able to gain control over 97 US Military networks, even taunting those who had access to the system with the statement, “Your security system is crap.” He had access to the networks of the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and NASA. It was said that he was only viewing those sights in order to search for information regarding UFOs.
Max Butler was known to have digitally stolen over two million credit card numbers, and ran up over $86 million in fraudulent charges. He was accused of operating the site “Carders Market” which facilitated the buying and selling of stolen financial data. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, and is ordered to pay $27.5 million in restitution to his victims.
Jonathan James was only 16 when he was convicted for hacking. He was known for breaching the systems of many high-profile US Government networks such as NASA, and the Department of Defense. He was arrested in 2000, and was under probation until the age of 18. He took his own life in 2008.
At one point, Kevin Mitnick was the most-wanted cybercriminal in the US. He is known for hacking and stealing information from various major companies such as Sun Microsystems and Novell. He even confessed that he successfully hacked into the NSA’s phone networks. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and is now working as a security consultant.