John Draper was known as a “phone phreak” because of his abilities to hack into phone lines and use pay phones free of charge by using a small plastic whistle. The whistle, when having one hole glued shut, induces a clear 2600 Hz tone, the exact sound telephone systems used to indicate a phone call was completed. This allowed him to conduct free long-distance calls since the phone system thought the call was over due to the tone from the whistle.
Gordon Lyon is referred to as “Fyodor” (the nickname came from a Russian author named Fyodor Dostoyevsky) on the Internet, and is considered one of the “good” hackers in the industry. He doesn’t involve him self in crime, and is constantly attempting to enhance online security for the well-being of Internet users all over the world. In 1997, Lyon was responsible for developing the Nmap Security Scanner, which discovers hosts and various services on a given computer network. He also owns his own websites and business, has written several books and articles, and was the President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.
Robert Morris is known as the first hacker to release a worm virus into the digital world, eventually infecting over 6,000 computers owned by the military and various university computers across the country. His intent wasn’t to harm any of these machines, but he tried gaining access to them, including federal government systems. After the last of the worm destruction was finished, the estimated worth of all the damage done was as high as $10 million. Luckily for Morris, he got off with just a $10,500 fine and 400 hours of community service.
To be the best you have to beat the best, and Shimomura did just that. After having his computer hacked by infamous super-hacker Kevin Mitnick, Tsutomu decided to join the FBI in tracking his rival down. He finger-hacked his cellphone and listened in on calls at Capitol Hill while federal agents were overseeing him. Shimomura reportedly used a cellular frequency from an antenna on a laptop that allowed him to almost pinpoint Mitnick’s position. Since then, books and movies have been produced from this thrilling story.
Richard Stallman was the mind behind the free operating system named GNU. Millions of people use it today, and it’s all because of Stallman and his movement to making operating systems entirely free. He was part of the MIT AI Lab, but quit it when he started focusing on his GNU project so that they couldn’t claim any copyrights to the software. Stallman went on to earn eight awards including being elected into the United States National Academy of Engineering.
Mr. Engelbart is responsible for the computer mouse, computer video teleconferencing, hypermedia, email, the Internet, and windows, all of which are being used today. He had a lab at the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute where he participated in his cyberspace activities. Basically, without Engelbart, there would be no Internet hacking at all, so he could be considered the grandfather of it all.
Adrian Lamo may have the greatest resume in terms of major corporations that he was able to get information from. He broke into the computer networks of Microsoft, Yahoo!, Citigroup, Bank of America, Cingular, and The New York Times. He used to use Internet connections at local Kinkos or coffee shops to hack into company security systems, and would then inform the business of their security flaws.
Kevin Poulson was a well-rounded hacker, but he was known for his extraordinary telephone line hacking skills. He started his journey by reactivating aged Yellow Page escort phone numbers for one of his acquaintances who wanted to run a virtual escort agency. When he did this, as well as hack into the FBI database and federal computers, his name was the focus on NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries. When he realized he was wanted, NBC’s phone lines went down and were unusable. Coincidence? Poulson also used his amazing talents to hack into the phone lines of radio stations so he could undoubtedly make himself the qualified caller to win the prize, where he won a nice Porsche, as well as other prizes.
Vladimir is the stereotypical hacker, as he used his knowledge of the concept to gain access to a list of Citibank user codes and passwords. He used this information to transfer over $3.5 million via wire transferring to his group accounts in several countries. He was eventually caught and sent to prison, while having to repay Citibank over $200,000.
Much like Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds developed an open-source operating system that is still in use today. Linus absolutely hated the operating system, MS-DOS, that was being used for Microsoft computers, so he started Linux, sent it to a few other programmers to tinker with and improve, and major companies took notice of its potential. Numerous companies started selling versions of Linux for their own benefit, becoming a huge breakthrough for computers.
As a 16-year-old kid, Jonathan James was enjoying the challenge of hacking and participating in activities no other kid his age had ever experienced before. Jonathan went big early, as he hacked into impressively large organizations like NASA and an agency of the Department of the Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
From the latter, he only received usernames and passwords of some of the members in the organization and read through extremely confidential emails. Then came NASA, where he stole software that controlled the temperature of the physical environment inside the International Space Station. They were forced to power off the entire network because of the hacking done by Jonathan.
Kevin Mitnick is the most well-known hacker to ever live, as well as the most feared because of what he was capable of. Highly touted as “the most wanted computer criminal in United States history” and “the most dangerous hacker in the world,” Mitnick went from a phone hacker into a full-out hacking menace. He used his cellphone to gain access to computers by touch-tone and voice control. At one point he was able to manipulate the Motorola network. He had to brach four thick layers of cyber security to get in, but e eventually did and had unlimited access to the company’s internal network. He was capable of ultimately anything he wanted to get into, but he actually believed it was immoral and unethical, so he slowed down up until the point he got caught.