29 November 2023

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

By usamerica_us

When most people hear the word ‘hacker’, they tend to think of the dark side of hacking. Unlike ethical hackers, who use their skills to protect computer systems and fix security vulnerabilities, black hat hackers engage in hacking for personal gain and mischief. Whether it’s for financial motives, stealing sensitive information, or simply for the excitement, black hat hackers cause chaos in computer systems, leaving a wake of victims in their path.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at the lives, motivations, and outcomes of 10 hackers who have made headlines by targeting and hacking into large organizations, and even governments. Some of them have good intentions, while others have no problem hacking for personal gain. But regardless of their reasons, these hackers always keep major organizations on their toes, forcing them to improve their security measures.

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1. Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu)

One hacker who gained notoriety is Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as “Sabu.” His motivations may vary, but his actions have impacted many organizations.

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

The name Sabu is quite famous and he is one of the people who started LulzSec, a group of hackers known for breaking into government and corporate websites and stealing information. They did all of this mainly for fun or entertainment, as they say. Eventually, the FBI found out who Sabu really was and gave him a choice: either become an informant or go to prison.

Sabu chose to work with the FBI and continued hacking with the LulzSec team, all the while keeping the FBI informed about their activities. This eventually led to the capture of the other members of LulzSec and the group disbanded. Sabu only spent 7 months in jail because he cooperated with the FBI. He was lucky, considering that his original sentence was supposed to be 26 years.

Next up is Kevin Mitnick.

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

I’m going to tell you the story of Kevin Mitnick, a hacker from way back when. He started hacking when he was just 15 years old, way back in 1978. And get this, he didn’t even use fancy computers or anything like that. He used a sneaky technique called social engineering. It involved this thing called a ticket puncher and even diving into dumpsters. It sounds crazy, but it worked. With a fake punch card, he could ride the bus for free!

But that was just the beginning. Kevin’s real computer hacking adventures started when he broke into the computer systems of Digital Equipment Corporation. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms. In fact, he ended up spending a whole year in jail and had to be supervised for three years after that. But here’s the wild part. Even with all those consequences, Kevin couldn’t resist the thrill of hacking. He went and hacked into Pacific Bell’s voice mail computers, breaking his supervision agreement. The police were after him, but somehow, he managed to stay hidden for two and a half years.

When I was on the run, I went on a huge hacking adventure. I used cloned cellphones to keep my whereabouts secret, and I broke into the systems of some really big cellphone and computer companies. Eventually, I got caught and had to spend five years in prison. Now, I run my own computer security firm called Mitnick Security Consulting.

3. Gary McKinnon (Solo)

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

I want to tell you a story about a Scottish hacker named Gary McKinnon. Some people say he committed the “biggest military computer hack of all time.” Can you imagine that? He managed to break into 97 computers belonging to the US military and NASA! And get this – it happened right after the tragic events of 9/11.

Now, this wasn’t just some harmless prank. McKinnon actually caused a lot of damage to the US military. He interrupted the supply of weapons to the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. Can you imagine the chaos that must have caused? And to make matters worse, he even left mean messages on their computers, saying things against America. What was he thinking?

But here’s the thing – McKinnon has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a type of autism. When he got caught, he said he was only searching for evidence of UFOs, anti-gravity technology, and secrets about free energy. I mean, who knew hacking into military computers would be a way to find that kind of information?

I must admit, this case of Ehud Tenenbaum, also known as “The Analyzer,” has left me scratching my head in confusion. The US government wanted to bring him back for trial, but they hit a roadblock due to his medical condition. And on top of that, experts labeled him a suicide risk if he were to be extradited from the UK, where he currently resides, to face charges.

After a grueling ten-year legal battle, prosecutors finally threw in the towel. They realized the complications of prosecuting him in the UK when all the evidence and witnesses were back in the US. It’s like a game of tug-of-war that just couldn’t be won.

4. Ehud Tenenbaum (The Analyzer)

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

When I was 19 years old in 1998, I found myself leading a group of hackers who accomplished something remarkable. We successfully breached the computer systems of NASA, the US and Israeli military, as well as various universities in both countries. Our main goal was to access classified information, and we took measures by installing backdoors to gain entry. Our actions were so audacious that then-US Deputy Department of Defense John Hamre described it as “the most organized and systematic attack to date.” Interestingly, many believed that the Iraqi government was responsible for the intrusion – a misconception that added an extra layer of intrigue to our activities.

However, the United States was determined to put a stop to our cyber attacks and capture the hackers involved in the breach. Multiple branches of the US government, driven by a common purpose, united their agents and initiated an investigation codenamed Solar Sunrise. Their efforts eventually paid off when they apprehended me, Ehud Tenenbaum, and my team. In 2001, I was given an 18-month prison sentence, though I only served eight months of it.

Can you believe it? In 2000, I pulled off one of the biggest hacking stunts ever. I made my way into NASA’s computers, which was totally mind-blowing. But wait, it gets crazier. I was only 16 years old at the time! I can’t even begin to explain how clever and bold I felt.

Of course, my actions didn’t go unnoticed. The FBI came knocking on my door, and I had to face the consequences of my actions. I was arrested and charged with hacking into government computers. It was a serious offense, and I knew I was in deep trouble.

Fast forward a few years. In 2008, I found myself in trouble once again. This time, I was hacking into financial institutions and stealing credit card numbers. The damages I caused were staggering – around $1.5 million. It was an adrenaline rush like no other, but looking back, I can’t help but feel remorse.

This time, though, I made a different choice. I decided to cooperate with the authorities and accept a plea bargain. I pleaded guilty to my actions and became a key player in the investigation. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

5. Jonathan James (c0mrade)

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

When I was 15, I got caught breaking into the BellSouth and Miami-Dade school system. Can you believe that? Turns out, I had this sneaky little way of getting into a division of the US Department of Defence. Yep, I basically had access to thousands of employee messages, just like that.

But you know what? That wasn’t even the craziest thing I did. I went ahead and hacked NASA! Can you imagine? And get this, I actually got my hands on the source code for the life support functions at the International Space Station. I know, it sounds like something out of a movie.

Here’s the thing, though. My little stunt caused NASA to shut down their computers for a whole three weeks. Can you imagine the chaos? Not to mention the $41,000 they had to spend to fix everything up. Talk about a headache.

Well, needless to say, I didn’t get away with it. I was arrested and had to serve six whole months in a federal correctional facility. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.

In 2007, James found himself in a troubling situation. He was suspected of aiding his hacker friends in carrying out a massive computer hacking spree that put the sensitive credit information of countless individuals at risk. Despite vehemently denying any involvement, he was still subjected to a raid by the Secret Service. The following year, in 2008, James tragically took his own life by shooting himself in the head. He believed that justice would not be served.

6. Edward Snowden

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

I became quite famous when I exposed the NSA’s spying program. They were surveilling regular Americans on an enormous scale, which was quite shocking. You might be wondering how I managed to gather the evidence to prove this accusation. Well, I didn’t need any fancy hacking tools. Just like Mitnick, I utilized the power of social engineering. And, of course, I also took advantage of a flawed security policy to gain access to the files.

You see, I was working as a system administrator at the NSA, which granted me access to the majority of their highly classified documents. Surprisingly, no one was really keeping an eye on me to prevent potential leaks. If I couldn’t access a particular document, all I had to do was acquire the login credentials of someone who already had access. People already assumed that sysadmins had access to everything anyway.

So, let’s talk about after everything came out, and Snowden, well he just couldn’t stick around. He figured the best move was to book it to Russia and seek political asylum. Smart thinking on his part, I’d say.

7. Andrew Auernheimer (weev)

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

I have heard of this person called weev. He is quite an interesting character. Apparently, he is a grey hat hacker and an Internet troll. He made quite a name for himself by claiming that he was responsible for hacking Amazon. Can you believe that?

But that’s not all. He is also known for his trolling antics. In fact, he even became the president of a group that was dedicated to trolling the web with malware, hacking websites, and posting shocking images. Talk about causing chaos!

But things changed for him when Goatse Security came into the picture. This was a group of grey hat hackers who wanted to distance themselves from all the trolling that was happening. They were a bit more serious about the whole hacking business.

And guess what? In 2010, weev helped them find a vulnerability on the AT&T website. This vulnerability exposed the personal emails of iPad users, including celebrities and military officials. Can you imagine the chaos that caused? It must have been a pretty big deal.

Let me tell you a story about a hacker named Mendex. Mendex and his group of friends stumbled upon a major security flaw in AT&T’s system. Instead of keeping it to themselves, they decided to go to a news agency and share their discovery. Little did they know that this act would lead to a criminal investigation.

I find it fascinating how one moment of curiosity can change your life completely. Imagine having the FBI knocking on your door, charging you for a hack that you thought was just a harmless exploration of technology. It must have been quite the shock for Mendex.

The consequences were severe. Mendex was sentenced to a whopping 41 months of jail time. Can you imagine spending more than three years behind bars for something that started out as a simple exploration of a security flaw? Life can be unpredictable, that’s for sure.

This story reminds me of the importance of responsible hacking. While it can be exhilarating to discover vulnerabilities and push the boundaries of technology, it’s crucial to consider the potential legal consequences and to act responsibly.

8. Julian Assenge (Mendex)

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

Hey, did you know that Julian Assange, the guy behind Wikileaks, first made a name for himself back in the ’80s? Yep, way back when he was just 16, he and two other hackers formed a hacking group called International Subversives. They were all about hacking for a good cause, you know, what they call “ethical hacking.”

Now, Julian didn’t mess around when it came to hacking. He targeted some pretty important places like the US Department of Defense, NASA, and Lockheed Martin. And get this, he even got caught hacking into Nortel in 1991. He was only 20 years old!

But here’s the kicker. When Julian got caught, he didn’t try to weasel his way out of it. Nope, he owned up to what he did and pleaded guilty to 35 charges. Now, you’d think that would land him in some serious trouble, but it turns out his intentions weren’t seen as entirely malicious. Plus, his rough childhood, what with his mom being part of some weird New Age group and always moving around, probably played a part in the lighter punishment he received.

9. Jeremy Hammond

I find it quite intriguing that Jeremy Hammond was branded a “hacktivist” for his actions. You see, he was a hacker who used his skills to fight for what he believed in. I admire his audacity and tenacity to make a difference in the world through his hacking abilities.

Jeremy, like many other hackers, sought to expose the truth and challenge those in power. He believed that information should be freely accessible to all, and that transparency is crucial in holding people accountable. I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment.

What sets Jeremy apart is his dedication to his cause. He didn’t just hack for personal gain or mischief; he did it to bring attention to important issues. He was driven by a desire for social justice and to shed light on corruption and wrongdoing.

In my eyes, Jeremy’s skills as a hacker are a form of activism. He used his technological prowess to raise awareness and ignite meaningful discussions. His actions may have been controversial, but they undeniably brought attention to important topics that often go overlooked.

I wonder what it must have felt like for Jeremy, navigating the dark corners of the internet and uncovering hidden secrets. It must have been a mix of excitement, intrigue, and at times, trepidation. Yet, he persevered, driven by his belief in the power of information.

To all the “hacktivists” out there like Jeremy, I salute you. Your skills and courage to challenge the status quo are inspiring. May we all strive to use our talents and voices to make a positive difference in the world.

10 of the Most Infamous Hackers in History

Hi, my name is Jeremy Hammond, and I’m a political activist. I have a unique way of using my computer hacking skills to support my activism. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

In 2004, at the DEFCON conference, I presented a new idea to the audience. I spoke about the concept of “electronic civil disobedience” and encouraged people to consider it as a form of protest against the Republican National Convention. It was my way of showing how technology could be used to challenge the system.

Another project I’m proud of is HackThisSite. It’s an initiative I started to train aspiring hackers by providing them with all the tools they need. HackThisSite is a non-profit organization that aims to create a safe and educational environment for learning about security. I believe that knowledge is power, and by teaching others how to hack ethically, we can strengthen our collective understanding of cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, my activism has led to some run-ins with the law. I’ve been arrested on multiple occasions for refusing to follow police orders during protests. While I understand the importance of maintaining order, sometimes civil disobedience is necessary to bring attention to important issues.

So, that’s a little bit about me and my work as a political activist. I believe in the power of technology to create change, and I’m dedicated to using my hacking skills to make a positive impact on the world. Thanks for listening!

But guess what? I finally landed myself in cuffs and got hit with a 10-year sentence because of my little stunt back in 2012. You know, when I hacked into that private intelligence firm Stratfor? Yeah, that’s the one. I leaked this pretty juicy client list that I managed to get my hands on, and even went the extra mile and donated a million bucks to some charities using stolen credit cards. Talk about a wild ride!

Oh, and get this: You know who actually got me caught? It was Sabu, that guy from #1. Turns out he was working as a snitch for the FBI. Go figure, right?

10. The Jester

Who’s this Jester character, you ask? Well, he’s like this internet superhero or something. Calls himself a grey hat hacktivist. No one knows who he really is, but rumor has it he used to be a soldier, did time in Afghanistan and all that. This dude made a name for himself by hacking into a bunch of websites that he thought were anti-American. Talk about stirring up trouble!

I started my journey by targeting the Taliban and other jihadist groups online. It was my way of fighting back against their harmful ideologies and actions. I even went as far as hacking into the website of the Westboro Baptist Church, a group that disrespects the funerals of American troops.

In my mission to protect American troops abroad, I took it upon myself to DDoS several websites that I believed were posing a danger to them. One example is my attack on Wikileaks, a site that I felt was compromising their safety.

But I didn’t stop there. I also set my sights on countries that supported Snowden, like Ecuador. By DDoS-ing their stock exchange and tourism website, I wanted to send a message and disrupt their activities.

You can still find me actively sharing my thoughts and opinions on Twitter and my blog. I believe in using my skills to make a difference and challenge those who threaten our values. Join me in the fight for a safer world.