Computers have different purposes. Most of the time, they are needed to store valuable information such as social security system information, credit card information, and insurance details. All of which is valuable information that can be very destructive if they land in the hands of opportunistic beings. Hackers have always been on the lookout for this information to sell them for their profit. But, these hackers have taken the step forward to hacking different computer systems including the US government and NASA. Here are the top 5 impressive hackers of all time.
1. Jonathan James
Jonathan James was an American hacker born on December 12, 1983. His claim to fame was when he hacked different government websites including the US Department of Defense and NASA. It took several weeks for NASA to discover who has hacked them. James took over $1.7 million of assets from NASA including the source code to how the International Space Station worked. NASA cost around $41,000 to investigate the breach. This happened between August to October 1999. But what made this hacker so impressive is that he hacked these government websites when he was only fifteen years old.
In January 2000, James’s house was raided and he was arrested. He was sentenced to six months of incarceration but since he was just a juvenile, he was sentenced to a six-month house arrest and probation until he was eighteen years old. NASA and the Department of Defense also wanted him to write a letter of apology. He was also banned from using computers for recreational purposes.
In 2007, he was accused of hacking massive computer systems that compromised millions of accounts and personal information. In May 2008, he was found dead in his shower with a gunshot wound to the head. It was believed that James shot himself in fear that he would be persecuted for the crimes that he did not commit. Prior to the suicide, his father has reported that he was in a serious state of depression and has been known to consider suicide.
2. Kevin Mitnick
Kevin David Mitnick was born on August 6, 1963, and is an American computer security company owner. At first, he was considered as one of America’s topmost computer hackers and a dangerous one at that. After hacking into the Digital Equipment Corporation, he was sentenced to serving for a year. Once he got out, he was under 3-year supervision but later on went on a hacking spree in which he stole valuable information from different corporations and even the national defense warning system. He was eventually caught and serve 5 years in jail. At age 12, Mitnick was able to bypass a punchcard system in a local bus system. Later on, he would use cloned mobile phones to avoid getting caught.
After several months of pursuit, the FBI finally caught him on February 15, 1995. His trial raised public awareness of hackers and that new law were enacted to dealing with such heinous crimes. Now, Mitnick is the owner of a computer security system that help test a company’s computer system’s strengths and weakness including loopholes for hackers to enter their system.
3. Albert Gonzalez
Albert Gonzalez is an American computer hacker and cyber-criminal. He is known for masterminding the theft of over 170 million credit card and ATM numbers from 2005 to 2007 which broke the record for being the biggest fraud in history. He was part of a team called ShadowCrew when he pulled this stunt. He was also their team leader. The group would then go to sell those credit card numbers over the internet for profit. They are also known to fabricate birth certificates, passports, insurance cards, and other important papers that the government needs. As of today, he has stolen more than 4.3 million dollars. He, later on, masterminded another online heist when he hacked the database of TJX Companies and Heartland Payment Systems. He stole credit card numbers to be sold online. It was known that he would stay at lavish hotels when he was on his hacking spree.
It was only when he stole 5,000 credit card numbers in September 2007 that he left a trail for the authorities to get to him. On May 7, 2008, he was arrested on charges of hacking and for fraudulent transactions. And in a related raid against him and the people involved, he was arrested in Room 1508 at the National Hotel in Miami Beach. The raid also revealed 1.6 million dollars buried in his parents’ backyard and a compact Glock pistol. On March 25, 2010, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
4. Kevin Poulsen
Kevin Lee Poulsen, born on November 30, 1965, is an American black hat hacker who previously hacked different systems for his own gain. He now works as a News Editor at Wired.com. He was born in Pasadena, California. His claim to fame was when he was able to hack into the telephone system of a famous LA radio station so that only he and his friends would be able to call the telephone and win the prize of a Porsche 944 S2. He was later pursued by the government for his work on the radio station which enabled him to be the 102nd caller to win the prize. He went underground as a fugitive but was later apprehended.
When he got out of prison, he changed and reinvented his way to become a journalist. He helped a security research firm and began writing security and hacking news in the early years of 2000. Later on, he helps release the information of more than 600 sex offenders on the internet and was one of the key components to the arrest of Andrew Lubrano. He also released the details regarding the WikiLeaks controversy.
5. Gary McKinnon
Gary McKinnon is a Scottish systems administrator and a computer hacker. His claim to fame was when he was able to hack the US Armed Forces and NASA from February 2001 to March 2002. This hacking spree was known as the biggest military hack of all time.
McKinnon defended himself that he hacked the system to find evidence of free energy suppression and the government cover-up of extraterrestrials as well as other technologies that NASA was hiding from the people of Earth. He is currently battling an extradition case to the United States since his capture is not legal as he is a Scotland citizen.