The Web’s Boogymen

Kevin Mitnick – the cyber criminal mind

Hugh Hackman in Swordfish

Ever since I saw Hugh Jackman become Hugh Hackman in swordfish I have forever dreamt of how insane it would

be to become a computer hacker and just dip into the Swiss accounts of billionaires to transfer a few gold bars into my account. How amazing it would be to harness the power of the web to do my bidding mwa ha ha ha! Well when I woke up from that dream I realized that their many out there who fulfilled just that. Eat your heart out Ethan Hunt! Every mission is not that impossible!

The website ITSecurity.com defines and divides hackers into 2 groups.

  • Black hat hacker

“The Internet abounds with hackers, known as crackers or “black hats,” who work to exploit computer systems. They are the ones you’ve seen on the news being hauled away for cybercrimes. Some of them do it for fun and curiosity, while others are looking for personal gain.”

  • White hat hacker

“Hackers that use their skills for good are classified as “white hat.” These white hats often work as certified “Ethical Hackers,” hired by companies to test the integrity of their systems. Others, operate without company permission by bending but not breaking laws and in the process have created some really cool stuff. “

Abc News defines the term hacker according to Merriam-Webster:

[One is very positive: “an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer.” Another is darker: “a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system.”]

This would be Kevin’s definition of what hacking is about: “It was used for decades to describe talented computer enthusiasts, people whose skill at using computers to solve technical problems and puzzles was – and is – respected and admired by others possessing similar technical skills”

There are many computer hackers out there who are notorious for their world web wide exploits. The one I would like to focus my energies on is Kevin Mitnick. Cue” Bad to the Bone” soundtrack!

Cyber space badass!

Kevin Mitnick

Hailed as the poster boy (should be wanted-poster boy) of hackers Kevin Mitnick has been called “the most wanted criminal in United States history” by the US Department of Justice. The title cost him 5 years and 8 months in solitary confinement after being caught and arrested by the FBI on February 15, 1995.

It began when Mitnick was much younger, 12 to be exact. He exploited the LA bus punch card system and hitched free rides after a bus driver mentioned to Mitnick where he could purchase his very own ticket punch. He made tickets from unused transfer slips he rummaged from bins. Four years later this bright spark hacked into Digital Equipment Corporation’s computer network and stole software. After serving a 12 month jail sentence, during 3 years of living under surveillance Mitnick hacked into Pacific Bell voice mail computers and fled after a warrant was issued for his arrest. A CNN article sums up his exploits: “he hacked into computers, stole corporate secrets, scrambled phone networks and broke into the national defense warning system.”

Here are just a few cases of Mitnick criminal activities:

  • Exploited the LA bus system fro free rides
  • Hacked into Motorola, Fujitsu Siemans, Sun Microsystems and Nokia systems.
  • Made free long distance phone calls in what was known as “phreaking”
  • Allegedly wiretapped FBI agents
  • Hacked into computer systems of the FBI and the Pentagon
  • Hacked into DEC systems which cost the company $160 000 to repair and clean up

Wow this guy was really busy and has so earned the title of notorious hacker of the 20th century. He was so intriguing that John Markoff wrote a book about him called Takedown which was made into the movie Track Down (the dvd was released in 2004). After the movie was released a fan based documentary was created titled Freedom Downtime. There is however light at the end of the tunnel and after paying his dues Mitnick went on to become a computer security consultant, a speaker and an author. Mitnick has an upcoming autobiography Ghost in the Wires which is due to be released in August this year, 2011.

Awww isn’t this photo just adorable?! 3 black hat hackers in a warm embrace. In the middle is our guy Kevin Mitnick. To his left is Adrian Lamo and to the right is Kevin Poulsen.

The guy with the over eager grin is Adrian Lamo or better known as the “homeless hacker”. He hacked into major corporations such as The New York Times and Microsoft using internet at coffee shops and libraries. Lamo mainly set out to penetrate various companies’ security systems, take advantage of them, then reported those flaws back to the companies he hacked. Lamo has ceased his hacking ways and is presently an award winning journalist and speaker.

Wired Magazine

Timid little Kevin Poulsen is not so little in the hacking game. Now this guy has racked up some great identities. From the suave name of Dark Dante to the title bestowed unto him by law enforcement, “the Hannibal Lecture of computer crime.” He managed to gain a Porsche from his exploitations by hacking into and taking over all of LA Radio’s KIIS-FM phone lines. Dark Dante went as far as hacking into the FBI’s investigation database. After serving a sentence of 5 years, Poulsen became a journalist and is currently the senior editor at Wired News.

Computers are nothing but human controlled machines, calculating, distributing, accumulating and at times manipulating. The way our world is shaped today is attributed to technological advances in all fields from science to information technology. We therefore realize the amount of power the glaring screen in front of us possesses and how this power can be abused by the very people who’ve helped mould it. The fetes accomplished by these hackers however disruptive and destructive they may be is considerably impressive. Most impressive of all is the really cool titles and nicknames the media gives them! I think I’ll have my name be WWW Warlock and Wielder of the Web! Hmmm exciting!

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About nicobaleng

My paradoxical love for the web is feeling immense freedom while confined to a seated position behind a desk. This is what the world wide web has to offer. Learning about the latest technological toys or playing around with programs sounds like nerds-play, but once you start exploring, the pc monitor in front of you becomes less and less intimidating. Tracked and documented I will share the journey of an average Joe like me, moving up toward achieving a black belt in web design! KAPOW!

Posted on April 4, 2011, in Geeked Up and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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