Why Is The Government Terrified Of This Hacker?

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With cybercrime on the rise governments around the world have seriously stepped up their digital law enforcement efforts, often to great success. While most hackers nowadays are easily caught and punished, others have evaded law enforcement for years, while others still were hacking legends in their day and practically barred from ever touching a computer again. Hello and welcome to another episode of The Infographics Show- today we’re taking a look at hackers governments around the world fear.

Once the most wanted hacker in the world, Kevin Mitnick began his criminal career as a young teenager, when in 1976 at 16 years old he broke into Digital Equipment Corporation’s computer network and copied their software, then in 1981 he stole computer manuals from Pacific Bell. A year later he was reported to have hacked into the US’s early warning system at North American Defense Command, the story inspiring the 1983 film “War Games”- however later in life Mitnick would go on to deny the story as ridiculous.

Mitnick finally made a name for himself after being released from jail in 1989 and put on 3 years of supervised release. Towards the end of his parole, Mitnick hacked into Pacific Bell voice mail computers and a warrant was immediately put out for his arrest, prompting Mitnick to flee and go into hiding. For two and a half years Mitnick was a fugitive, but continued his hacking spree and used cloned cell phones to hide his location while copying proprietary software from some of the nation’s largest cell phone and computer companies. He also intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks for companies around the nation, and broke into and read thousands of private e-mails.

The FBI caught up with Mitnick on February 15th, 1995 at his apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, finding him with more than 100 clone cell phones, cell phone codes and multiple fake id’s. Charged with 14 counts of wire fraud, 8 counts of possession of unauthorized access devices, interception of wire or electronic communications, unauthorized access to a federal computer, and causing damage to a computer, Mitnick accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to 46 months in prison plus 22 extra months for violating the terms of his 1989 supervised release. Mitnick would go on to serve most of his prison time in solitary confinement due to law enforcement officials convincing a judge that Mitnick could start a nuclear war by dialing into the NORAD modem via a payphone from prison and communicate to it by whistling. A ridiculous claim no doubt, but to a less than tech-savy 1990’s America, a valid fear.

Released in January of 2000, Mitnick would go on to form his own security consulting company and has collaborated many times with the FBI. However given his massive skillset there’s little doubt that the government keeps a very close eye on Mitnick to this day.

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