Kevin Mitnick, who was once one of the most wanted computer hackers in the world, has passed away at the age of 59. He spent five years in prison for computer and wire fraud following a two-year federal manhunt in the 1990s, but after his release in 2000 reinvented himself as a “white hat” hacker, renowned cybersecurity consultant and author. Mitnick grew up in Los Angeles and broke into a North American Air Defense Command computer as a teenager.
Life of Kevin Mitnick
- In the 1990s he went on a hacking spree that saw him break into the country’s cell networks, breach government computer systems, and steal thousands of credit card numbers and data files. There is no evidence he ever used any of the 20,000 credit card numbers.
- The government accused him of causing millions of dollars in damages to companies including Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems by stealing software and altering computer code.
- Mitnick had first been arrested for computer crimes at age 17 for walking into a Pacific Bell office and taking a handful of computer manuals and codes to digital door locks. For that, he served a year in a rehabilitation centre, deemed by a federal judge as being addicted to computer tampering.
- He was dubbed as the “most wanted” computer hacker in the world by investigators.
- A two-year-long nationwide FBI manhunt led to his 1995 arrest and he eventually pleaded guilty to computer and wire fraud.
- Authorities believed he had access to corporate trade secrets worth millions of dollars.
- In his 2011 memoir, Ghost in the Wires, Mitnick denied using his skills to steal or exploit information for financial gain.