Hacking - Hall of Fame
Known online as Dark Dante, In 1990 he took over all telephone lines going into Los Angeles area radio station KIIS-FM, assuring that he would be the 102nd caller. Poulsen won a Porsche 944 S2 for his efforts. Got his first copmuter when his parents bought him a TRS-80 (better known as a "Trash-80"). Used a set of locksmith tools he used to break into phone company trailers. He was caught after a friend commemorated the break-ins with snapshots of Poulsen picking locks. He admitted breaking into computers to get the names of undercover businesses operated by the FBI. Thanks to an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, Kevin Poulsen was arrested and spent three years in prison. He was then forbidden to touch a computer for another three years. Poulsen is now a self-proclaimed "reformed and penitent" journalist, and serves as editorial director for Security Focus.
Known online as Julf, he operated the world's most popular anonymous remailer, called penet.fi, until he closed up shop in September 1996. Helsingius' troubles started when he was raided in 1995 by the Finnish police after the Church of Scientology complained that a penet.fi customer was posting the "church's" secrets on the Net. Helsingius mothballed the remailer after a Finnish court ruled he must reveal the customer's real e-mail address. He ran the world's busiest remailer on a run-of-the mill 486 with a 200-megabyte harddrive, and he never felt the need himself to post anonymously. Johan Helsingius now lends his cyber knowledge to communication companies worldwide.
A graduate of St. Petersburg Tekhnologichesky University, this mathematician allegedly masterminded the Russian hacker gang that tricked Citibank's computers into spitting out $10 million. Arrested by Interpol at Heathrow Airport in 1995. Accused of using his office computer at AO Saturn, a St. Petersburg, Russia, computer firm, to break into Citibank. He claimed that one of the lawyers assigned to defend him was actually an FBI agent. He fought extradition to the United States for two years, but eventually lost his case. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay Citibank $240,015 (his share from the heist). Citibank has since begun using the Dynamic Encryption Card, a security system so tight that no other financial institution in the world has it.
A hacker of the old school, Stallman walked in off the street and got a job at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1971. He was an undergraduate at Harvard at the time. Disturbed that software was viewed as private property, Stallman later founded the Free Software Foundation. He first began using computers in 1969, at the IBM New York Scientific Center. He was 16 years old. In the 1980s Stallman left MIT's payroll but continued to work from an office at MIT. Here he created a new operating system called GNU — short for GNU's Not Unix. Recipient of a $240,000 MacArthur Foundation genius grant.
Known online as rtm. Son of the chief scientist at the National Computer Security Center — part of the National Security Agency (NSA) — this Cornell University graduate student introduced the word "hacker" into the vernacular when he accidentally unleashed an Internet worm in 1988. Thousands of computers were infected and subsequently crashed.
First exosted to computers at home - Morris' father once brought home one of the original Enigma cryptographic machines from the NSA. It became a household conversation piece. As a teenager Morris had an account on the Bell Labs' computer network, where early hacking forays gave him super-user status. Robert Morris is now an assistant professor at MIT, even though he released his worm virus from there in 1988 (thus disguising the fact that it was actually written at Cornell University).
Cap'n Crunch figured out how to make free phone calls using a plastic prize whistle he found in a cereal box. Cap'n Crunch introduced generations of hackers to the glorious concept of phone "phreaking."
(Oscar Meyer weiner whistles also briefly gained a following among phone phreakers.) Honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 1968 after a stint in Vietnam. John Draper has set up his own security firm. He also recently developed Crunchbox, a firewall system that halts the spread of computer viruses.
A true hacker in the classic sense, Linus Torvalds was a computer science student at the University of Helsinki when he wrote the operating system Linux (a contraction of "Linus' Minix") in 1991. The software has proven to be tremendously popular worldwide — and best of all it's FREE! Torvalds modestly attributes much of Linux's success to the Net and to Richard Stallman's GNU: Both have facilitated development of his original kernel by fostering collaboration among software programmers and developers. One of the most genuinely respected hackers in history — now works for Transmeta, a company that develops software-based microprocessors. He's married with two daughters.
Eric Steven Raymond
Eric Steven Raymond is the granddaddy of today's hackers, a man who revels in living the life in all its geeky glory. According to him, "The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved." Annoyed by the fact that most people misuse the term "hacker," he wrote The Hacker's Dictionary and How to Be a Hacker. (Raymond says the basic difference is that "hackers build things, crackers break them.") Not only is he respected for his astounding skills as a programmer, but Raymond is also valued as a fierce defender of the Open Source Movement, which is based on the premise that programmers should be able to read and modify all software source codes. In this IT paradise, programmers would be able to improve software and fix any potentially lethal bugs. Steve Wozniak would be a god. Bill Gates would be the serpent.
The year was 1981. The Reagan administration was in its infancy. "Elvira" was setting the Billboard charts on fire. And a young hacker was about to become the first person ever arrested for a computer crime. Eighteen months earlier, Ian Murphy (a.k.a. "Captain Zap") along with three cohorts, hacked into AT&T's computers and changed their internal clocks. People suddenly received late-night discounts in the afternoon, while others who waited until midnight to use the phone were greeted with hefty bills. For his part in the crime, Murphy was greeted with 1,000 hours of community service and 2 1/2 years probation (considerably less than what fellow hackers would receive today). He also became the inspiration for the movie Sneakers. Today Murphy, like other hackers, runs his own security company — IAM Secure Data Systems, Inc. For $5,000 a day plus expenses, Murphy has dressed up as a phone-company employee and cracked a bank's security system, aided a murder investigation, and conducted studies in airline terrorism. But Murphy's great love is still hacking into company security systems — with their permission — and helping them guard against potential break-ins.
Dennis Ritchie and
Known online as dmr and Ken, they were the the driving creative force behind Bell Labs' legendary computer science operating group, Ritchie and Thompson created UNIX in 1969. An elegant, open operating system for minicomputers, UNIX helped users with general computing, word processing and networking, and soon became a standard language. They used Plan 9, the next-generation operating system created as the natural descendant of UNIX by Thompson and Bell Labs colleague Rob Pike. Although Ritchie is the author of the popular C programming language, his favorite language is Alef. Thompson, an amateur pilot, once traveled to Moscow to fly a MiG-29. Dennis Ritchie is currently the head of Lucent Technology's System Software Research Department, while Ken Thompson has retired from both Bell Labs and the hacker spotlight.
Known online once as Condor, Kevin was the first hacker to have his face immortalized on an FBI "Most Wanted" poster. His status as a repeat offender — a teenage hacker who couldn't grow up — earned Mitnick the nickname "The Lost Boy of Cyberspace." First encountered a computer: As a teenager. Mitnick couldn't afford a computer, so he hung out in a Radio Shack store. He used the store's demo models and modem to dial other computers. During the three years he was on the lam, Mitnick used Internet Relay Chat (IRC) as a message drop and to communicate with his friends. He was even once sentenced to a year in a residential treatment center, Mitnick enrolled in a 12-step program to rid himself of what a judge agreed was his "computer addiction." One of the conditions of his parole after four years in California jail were that he have no contact with either computers OR telephone lines. Kevin Mitnick played himself in 2001's hacker documentary Freedom Downtime. He also appeared on ABC's Alias as a CIA computer whiz; to play the role, Mitnick was only allowed to use prop computers. Free from prison he now works in computer security consulting.
Known famously online as Phiber Optik. He was a founding member of the Masters of Deception, Phiber Optik inspired thousands of teenagers around the country to "study" the internal workings of our nation's phone system. A federal judge attempted to "send a message" to other hackers by sentencing Phiber to a year in federal prison, but the message got garbled: Hundreds of well-wishers attended a welcome-home party in Abene's honor at an elite Manhattan Club. Soon after, New York magazine dubbed him one of the city's 100 smartest people. First used computers while hanging out in the electronics department of the A&S department store in Queens, N.Y., where his mother worked. There he was introduced to the Apple II, the Timex Sinclair and the Commodore 64. The first computer he owned was a Radio Shack TRS-80 (Trash-80). He experimented by dialing patterns on a phone receiver. Abene used the receiver so frequently that it had to be bandaged with black electrical tape to keep its guts from falling out. After doing time in a Pennsylvania prison, Mark Abene worked on penetration tests for an accounting firm, and formed the (now defunct) security company, Crossbar Security.
Kevin Mitnick - Captured...Free