Internet security is a hot topic with computer users, companies, and online security firms alike. It has really come to the fore recently following well publicised attacks on major websites by hackers that were in support of the Wikileaks website, but these were far from being the first or indeed the worst hacks conducted online. Below we look at five of the most infamous hacks and hackers on record.
1 Captain Zap Hacks AT&T Computer System
In the grand scheme of things, hacking into AT&T’s computer system and moving the metering clocks around isn’t all that big a deal. However, what makes Ian Murphy, or Captain Zack, worthy of particular note is that he is credited as being the first person ever convicted of hacking. He was one of four people that broke into the AT&T computer system and swapped the off peak and peak clocks around.
Murphy was convicted in 1981 and served 1,000 hours of community service and 2 ½ years probation. He also became the inspiration for the movie Sneakers and now runs his own Internet security firm (a common trend, it seems, in former hackers).
2 Kevin Mitnick Hacked Just About Everything
Once described as the most wanted computer criminal in United States historyby the Department of Justice, Kevin Mitnick wasn’t renowned for any one particular hack but for an extended period of hacking that saw him scramble phone systems, steal corporate information, and even find his way into the US national defence warning system.
Mitnick’s two and a half year reign of apparent hacking terror ended with his serving a 5 year prison sentence, which included 8 months in solitary confinement. He also became the subject of films, Freedom Downtime and Takedown apparently based on his hacking exploits. Mitnick is now reformed and is a computer security consultant.
3 Robert Tappam Morris and the Morris Worm
While Ian Murphy was the first person prosecuted in the US for hacking computers, Robert Tappam holds the perhaps undesirable accolade of being the first to be tried under the American Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. He created what later became known as the Morris Worm and unleashed it on the unsuspecting public.
Having written the code for the worm while studying at Cornell, it is estimated that the Morris Worm attacked over 6,000 computers rendering them completely useless. Morris received 3 years probation, 400 hours of community service, and a $10,500 fine and is now a professor at MIT.
4 Joseph Thomas Colon Hacks the FBI Network
When it comes to high profile hacking targets, you would have to go a long way in order to find any more high profile than the FBI. US Government consultant Joseph Thomas Colon used the identity of an FBI agent along with two hacking programs that were found on the Internet.
Colon discovered the passwords belonging to 38,000 employees including that of the director of the FBI. Somehow, he managed to avid a jail sentence when he was tried in July 2006 as the judge said that the hacker was not trying to harm national security but was simply too intelligent for his own good. The entire network had to be shut down while repairs were made, apparently costing millions of dollars in the process.
5 Gary McKinnon Hacks United States Military and NASA
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all the hackers seem to hail from the US but, in fact, Britain is able to lay claim to one Gary McKinnon who was described by a US prosecutor as being the biggest military hacker of all time. Claiming to have hacked into various sensitive US government networks, McKinnon claimed he had done it to find evidence of UFO sightings.
McKinnon hacked a total of 97 computers over a 13 month period and the Asperger’s sufferer was arrested in 2002 but still awaits the results of an extradition hearing to take him to the US to face 7 counts of computer related crime with a potential of 70 years behind bars.
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Amy Greenacre writes on behalf of ITHound.com, business technology article library; for the latest crm white papers.