Kevin Mitnick was convicted of destroying data over a computer network and with stealing operator’s manuals from the telephone company in 1981. As his escapades continued, he became the first high profile hacker.
Born in 1964 in Los Angeles, Mitnick first began hacking by changing friends’ grades on the high school’s computer system in the 1970s. He was again convicted in 1983 for breaking into a Pentagon computer over the ArpaNet. Later he was accused of tampering with a TRW credit computer, and went into hiding. A warrant was issued for his arrest which promptly disappeared from police records. He was then later convicted for stealing software in 1987. In 1988 he pled guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of possessing illegal long-distance access codes for attempting to break into Easynet, Digital’s computer network. As part of a plea bargain he was sentenced to one year in prison and six months of counseling.
After serving his sentence he went to work for a detective agency, where soon it was discovered someone was illegaly using a commercial database at the company. When a warrant was issued and authorities went to arrest him Mitnick promptly went underground, hiding from the police and FBI for two years. In 1994 he broke into scientist/computer security expert Tsutomu Shimomura’s computers and was tracked down within a few months and arrested yet again in 1995. Rumors swirled that Mitnick was able to launch a nuclear strike by whistling into a phone and punching some numbers. As a result, jail officials placed him in solitary confinement for nearly 8 months.
After his release from prison in January 2002, he was banned from using the internet until January 21st, 2003. He is now CEO of a computer security consulting company and has published two books.