Jonathan Joseph James
Jonathan Joseph James (December 12, 1983 – May 18, 2008) was an American hacker who was the first juvenile incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States. The South Florida native was 15 years old at the time of the first offense and 16 years old on the date of his sentencing. He died at his Pinecrest, Florida home on May 18, 2008, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Between August 23, 1999, and October 27, 1999, James committed a series of intrusions into various systems, including those of BellSouth and the Miami-Dade school system. What brought him to the attention of federal authorities, however, was his intrusion into the computers of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a division of the United States Department of Defense, the primary function of which is to analyze potential threats to the United States of America, both at home and abroad. James later admitted to authorities that he had installed an unauthorized backdoor in a computer server in Dulles, Virginia, which he used to install a sniffer that allowed him to intercept over three thousand messages passing to and from DTRA employees, along with numerous usernames and passwords of other DTRA employees, including at least 10 on official military computers.
It was later revealed that the precise software obtained was the International Space Station’s source code controlling critical life-sustaining elements. According to NASA, “the software supported the International Space Station’s physical environment, including control of the temperature and humidity within the living space.” This intrusion, when detected, caused NASA to shut down its computers for three weeks that July, costing $41,000 to check and fix its systems. Jonathan James did this using only a Pentium Computer.
Ian Murphy, also known as Captain Zap, at one point of time was having high school students steal computer equipment for him. Ian self-proclaims to have been “the first hacker ever convicted of a crime”.
Ian’s career as a master hacker was fabricated in 1986 after he and his unemployed wife decided to form some type of business.
He has a long history of computer and Internet frauds. One of his favorite games is to forge Email headers and to send out third-party threat letters.
Kevin David Mitnick
Kevin David Mitnick (born August 6, 1963) is an American computer security consultant, author, and hacker, best known for his high-profile 1995 arrest and later five years in prison for various computer and communications-related crimes. He is the first hacker to have his face immortalized on an FBI “Most Wanted” poster. He was formerly the most wanted computer criminal in the history of United States.
Mitnick’s pursuit, arrest, trial, and sentence along with the associated journalism, books, and films were all controversial. From the 1970s up until his last arrest in 1995, he skilfully bypassed corporate security safeguards, and found his way into some of the most well-guarded systems such as Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment Corporation, Motorola, Netcom, and Nokia.
He now runs the security firm Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC which helps test companies’ security strengths, weaknesses, and potential loopholes. He is also the Chief Hacking Officer of the security awareness training company KnowBe4, as well as an active advisory board member at Zimperium, a firm that develops a mobile intrusion prevention system.
Kevin Mitnick is a computer security consultant and author, who infiltrates his clients’ companies to expose their security strengths, weaknesses, and potential loopholes.
Mark T. Abene (born February 23, 1972) is an American infosec expert and entrepreneur, originally from New York City. Better known by his pseudonym Phiber Optik, he was once a member of the hacker groups Legion of Doom and Masters of Deception.
Phiber Optik was a high-profile hacker in the 1980s and early 1990s, appearing in The New York Times, Harper’s, Esquire, in debates and on television. He is an important figure in the 1995 non-fiction book, Masters of Deception — The Gang that Ruled Cyberspace (ISBN 978-0-06-092694-6). He was one of the first hackers to openly debate and defend the positive merits of ethical hacking as a beneficial tool to industry.
His expertise spreads across penetration studies, on-site security assessments, secure code reviews, security policy review and generation, systems and network architecture, systems administration and network management, among many others. His clientele includes American Express, UBS, First USA, Ernst & Young, KPMG and others.
Johan “Julf” Helsingius, born in 1961 in Helsinki, Finland, started and ran the Anon.penet.fi internet remailer. Johan came into the limelight in the 1980s when he started operating the world’s most popular anonymous remailer, called penet.fi.
Anon.penet.fi was one of the most popular Internet remailers, handling 10,000 messages a day. The server was the first of its kind to use a password-protected PO box system for sending and receiving e-mails. In the 1980s, he was the system administrator for the central Finnish news node as well as a founding members of the Finnish UNIX User Group. In a 1994 interview with Wired, he said he created the service because “It’s important to be able to express certain views without everyone knowing who you are.”
In 1996, he announced his remailer would shut down due to legal pressure from the Church of Scientology. Scientology officials, upset that some users of Helsingius’ service were sending information about the church, obtained a court order to force him to reveal the identity of many of the site’s users. When announcing the service’s closure, he wrote, “I will close the remailer for the time being because the legal issues concerning the Internet in Finland are yet undefined.” The American Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil rights initiative, reported continuously on the incidents concerning anon.penet.fi and collected donations to cover legal costs should Helsingius be involved in a court case to settle whether Finnish law could force him to reveal the identity of anon.penet.fi users. The closing down of anon.penet.fi led to an outbreak of outrage and solidarity with Helsingius throughout the Internet in order to protect freedom on the Internet.
Johan was also responsible for product development for the first Pan-European internet service provider, Eunet International. Helsingius went on to help found EUnet in Finland and was part of the team of people that established the first Internet link to USSR. Later, when EUnet was acquired by Qwest Communications and soon after moved into KPNQwest, Qwest’s joint venture with KPN International, Julf became Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for KPNQwest. He is now an Internet entrepreneur and is serving on the board of various companies (e.g. BaseN, which is based in Finland). Helsingius lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
He is at present, a member of the board of Technologia Incognita, a hackerspace association in Amsterdam, and supports the communication companies worldwide with his cyber knowledge. Helsingius has studied music and traveled widely. His interests include active sports, like mountain climbing, and aviation.
Linus Benedict Torvalds
Linus Benedict Torvalds (born December 28, 1969) is a Finnish–American software engineer who is the creator, and historically, the principal developer of the Linux kernel, which became the kernel for many Linux distributions and operating systems such as Android and Chrome OS. He also created the distributed version control system Git and the diving logging and planning software Subsurface. He was honored, along with Shinya Yamanaka, with the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize by the Technology Academy Finland “in recognition of his creation of a new open source operating system for computers leading to the widely used Linux kernel”. He is also the recipient of the 2014 IEEE Computer Society Computer Pioneer Award and the 2018 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award.
Linus Torvalds is known as one of the best hackers of all time. He rose to fame by creating Linux, the very popular Unix-based operating system. Linux is open source and thousands of developers have contributed to its Kernel. However, Torvalds remains the ultimate authority on what new code is incorporated into the standard Linux kernel. As of 2006, approximately two percent of the Linux kernel was written by Torvalds himself.
He has made the world’s best operating system. Torvalds has also received honorary doctorates from Stockholm University and University of Helsinki.
Robert Tappan Morris
Robert Tappan Morris (born November 8, 1965) is an American computer scientist and entrepreneur. He is best known for creating the Morris Worm in 1988, considered the first computer worm on the Internet.
Morris’ worm was developed in 1988, while he was a graduate student at Cornell University. He said it was designed to gauge the size of the Internet. He released the worm from MIT, rather than from Cornell. The worm exploited several vulnerabilities to gain entry to targeted systems, including:
- a hole in the debug mode of the Unix sendmail program,
- a buffer overrun hole in the fingerd network service,
- the transitive trust enabled by people setting up rexec/rsh network logins without password requirements.
Morris was prosecuted for releasing the worm, and became the first person convicted under the then-new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He went on to co-found the online store Viaweb, one of the first web-based applications, and later the funding firm Y Combinator—both with Paul Graham.
As a result of this, he was sentenced to three years’ probation, 400 hours of community service and also had to pay a penalty amount of $10,500. He later joined the faculty in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received tenure in 2006. Morris is currently working as a tenured professor at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Gary McKinnon (born 10 February 1966) is a Scottish systems administrator and hacker who was accused in 2002 of perpetrating the “biggest military computer hack of all time,” although McKinnon himself states that he was merely looking for evidence of free energy suppression and a cover-up of UFO activity and other technologies potentially useful to the public. On 16 October 2012, after a series of legal proceedings in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew her extradition order to the United States.
Kevin Lee Poulsen
Kevin Lee Poulsen (born November 30, 1965) is an American former black-hat hacker and a contributing editor at The Daily Beast.
Kevin Poulsen, also known as Dark Dante, became famous for his notoriety when he took over all the telephone lines of Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM, guaranteeing that he would be the 102nd caller and win the prize of a Porsche 944 S2.
Poulsen also drew the ire of FBI, when he hacked into federal computers for wiretap information, for which he had to serve a sentence of five years. He has reinvented himself as a journalist and has carved a niche for himself in this field.