In August 2016, reports came out that Twitter had suspended the account of a hacker who leaked the Democratic National Committee’s emails that revealed information stolen in a cyber security incident. Wikileaks had leaked about 20,000 DNC emails about a few weeks earlier.
A hacker is a user who looks for weaknesses to exploit in a computer system.
Hackers that are known as “black hats” are considered criminals who violate systems for their own financial benefit. A “white hat” is considered more ethical, and may be hired to compromise a company’s system to help them improve security procedures.
Hacking didn’t just begin at this year’s political conventions. It has been around for ages. We’ve found five of the most famous computer hackers who made news over the years:
1.) Gary McKinnon
In 2002, McKinnon was accused of pulling off “the biggest military computer hack of all time.” He invaded 97 U.S. military and NASA computers, claiming to just be looking for information on UFO cover-ups and a suppression of free energy. McKinnon believes he may have found evidence of a secret space base during his hacking, according to Express.
He was found guilty of hacking the computers from his girlfriend’s house in London.
McKinnon shut down 2000 U.S.military computers in Washington for 24 hours. Gary McKinnon hacked into the U.S. computers between February 2001 and March 2002. His efforts resulted in over $700,000 in damage, according to U.S. authorities.
Anonymous is a group of activists and/or hacktivists who probably see themselves as white hat hackers. They have been described as a group that operates on “ideas rather than directives.” The group started in 2003 in an online group 4chan, and can be identified in public wearing Guy Fawkes masks.
The group has gone after the Church of Scientology, The Vatican, the FBI, PayPal, and government agencies of Israel, Tunisia, Uganda and the U.S. Anonymous has developed a familiar tagline: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
3.) Adrian Lamo
In 2002 Lamo hacked into files of The New York Times, including databases that had information on over 3,000 op-ed contributors. Lamo did this despite being homeless. He received two years of probation and a fine of about $65,000. Proving there is no honor among thieves, Lamo later turned in Chelsea Manning for leaking classified U.S. Army documents.
4.) Kevin Mitnick
Mitnick is a computer security consultant, author, and hacker. Mitnick pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and was convicted of hacking Motorola, Nokia, and the Pentagon. He spent 5 years in jail, and 8 months in solitary confinement. When the FBI arrested Mitnick in 1995, he was the most wanted hacker in the U.S.
According to bigthink.com, Mitnick today is working in computer security and has written “Ghost in the Wires,” a book about his hacking experiences. Mitnick’s mitnicksecurity.com website calls him the chief white hat heckler and says he hacked into 40 major corporations “just for the challenge.”
5.) Steve Wozniak
Wozniak says he never once hacked a computer for real, and he just likes to play jokes. According to Network World, the co-founder of Apple once got into a shared computer system and left nine pages of Polish jokes for users.
But Wozniak also bypassed the phone system by creating “blue boxes” that would let someone make long distance phone calls for no charge. After learning the codes of the various telephone exchanges, Wozniak and Steve Jobs created the blue boxes and sold them to their college classmates.
Sometimes hackers are motivated by curiosity, and just want to know if they can get around a security system. We hope you only work with the guys in the white hats.