Top 10 Computer Hackers of All Time

By Robert Cordray | Small Business

Most hackers start with zero knowledge and without the ability to hack into complex computer systems with seemingly impossible-to-hack security. They start out with basic coding classes before learning, growing and eventually hacking their way into high security systems.

1. Loyd Blankenship

Loyd Blankenship is the author of the Hacker Manifesto. An essay he wrote in the 80s after he was arrested. In the manifesto, he defends the antics of hackers as merely satisfying a curiosity. He’s been active since the 1970s as a member of a group of hackers calling themselves Legion of Doom.

2. Stephen Wozniak

He started out as a hacker before joining forces with Steve Jobs to create Apple computer. When he was a student at Berkeley, he explored the telephone system and ended up bypassing it to make free long distance phone calls. On a few occasions, he called world leaders.

3. Gary McKinnon

In 2002, McKinnon hacked into almost 100 military and NASA computers while living in London with his girlfriend and her aunt. He deleted many files and caused over $700,00 in damages. He left a notice inside the military’s website that read; “Your security is crap.”

4. Kevin Mithick

At one time, Mithick was declared the most wanted computer hacker of all time. He was jailed twice for computer hacking crimes. He never referred to activities as hacking. He chose to call them social engineering. He’s written two books.

5. Albert Gonzalez

Gonzalez was indicted for stealing over 130 million credit card numbers between the years 2005 and 2007. He masterminded the theft along with accomplices who made over 170 million dollars.

6. Adrian Lamo

Lamo was named the homeless hacker because he often hacked into computer networks for coffeeshops, Internet cafes and libraries. He gained access to Yahoo, Microsoft and the New York Times’ computer systems. He’d often contact the corporations and inform them of their security risks. He was arrested and sentenced to six months house arrest. He works as a journalist.

7. Sven Jaschan

In 2004, a series of worms quickly spread through the Internet wreaking havoc. They spread so quickly that the two worms, known as Netsky and Sasser, were about 70 percent of the malware at the time. It was discovered that the person responsible for it was only a teenager. He was tried and given a suspended sentence because of his age.

8. Kevin Poulsen

Poulsen as another hacker that was hunted by the FBI for his exploits. Poulsen started hacking as a teenager when he learned to whistle through his braces into a payphone to receive free calls. His first recorded hack was into a radio station to become the 102nd caller and win a Porsche. He became the first hacker charged with espionage when he stole classified information from the Air Force.

9. Robert Tappan Morris

While attending Cornell, Morris claimed to want to count the vastness of the Internet. The year was 1988 and Morris released a worm that infected over 6,000 computers and seriously damaged many of them. In 1986, the new Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was on the books, and Morris became the first hacker charged with it. Morris was sentenced to three years probation and is now a professor at MIT.

10. Masters of Deception

This group of hackers engaged in a rivalry with another group of hackers named Legion of Doom in the 1980s. When MOD would target a corporation, LOD would provide security for the corporation. They would predominantly break into phone networks and minicomputers. They’ve since disbanded and work in various security firms.

Many of the hackers listed have gone on to become productive members of society and most often work in security or technology firms.

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