Although on many occasions they move between the shadows and anonymity so as not to be detected, over the last decades there have been numerous hackers famous for putting the security systems of governments and large corporations in check. In this article we briefly review the biography of some of the most famous hackers in history and their most outstanding "achievements".
The list with the most famous hackers in history
Throughout history there have been famous hackers for different reasons. Some, for their ability to circumvent the security systems of governments and defense ministries; others, for criminal activities that caused millions in losses to large corporations; and there are also those who have directed their activities towards ethical hacking , that is, to help companies, governments and citizens to improve cybersecurity.
In this list we will see what some of the most famous hackers of all time have been, and how they came to achieve worldwide fame.
Kevin Mitnick is one of the most representative figures of hacking in the United States. He started his activities in the 80s, and very soon he achieved his first milestone as a hacker: he managed to get into the United States Defense Command (NORAD). His case became so famous that there is even a movie inspired by him ('War Games', 1983).
He also hacked into the networks of companies such as Pacific Bell or Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). However, throughout his career, Mitnick never used or took advantage of the obtained data for personal purposes. All he wanted to prove was simply that he could do it.
Adrian Lamo has been a hacker who has specialized in hacking the networks of large media outlets. Among his victims are the Reuters press agency or The New York Times. He has one of the most well-known famous hacker nicknames , he is known as “the homeless hacker”, since he had no fixed address and liked to wander the streets equipped only with a backpack. In 2010 it was revealed that Lamo suffered from Asperger syndrome, a disorder that made him behave compulsively.
Some of the most famous hackers began their criminal careers at very young ages. This is the case of Elliott Gunton, a cybercriminal who hacked the Talk Talk telecommunications company when he was just 16 years old.
Most of his misdeeds have been committed in the United Kingdom, where he is accused of information theft, forgery, money laundering, celebrity account hacking, and even possession of pornographic photos with minors. However, his activities have transcended the borders of his native country, and in the United States he is also accused of crimes such as the hijacking of EtherDelta, a currency exchange website, with which I managed to defraud millions of dollars from users in just two weeks.
Elliott Gunton is accused of information theft, forgery, money laundering, celebrity account hacking, and even possession of pornographic photos with minors.
Albert GonzalezAlbert Gonzáles is one of those famous hackers who ended up abandoning the dark side of hacking. He started his career in the illegal trading portal Shadowerew and at the age of 22 he was arrested for a credit card fraud that caused the theft of millions of accounts. González escaped going to prison in exchange for collaborating with the US Secret Service, and in fact, thanks to him, dozens of hackers from the Shadowerew site were indicted.
However, his stage on the side of "the good guys" did not last long as, together with a group of accomplices, he stole more than 180 million credit card accounts from companies such as OfficeMax, Dave and Buster's and Boston Market, in what is considered the first massive leak of credit card data.
Yevgeny Mikhailovich BogachevHe is one of the most famous Russian hackers , mainly for being the creator of the GameOver ZeuS botnet, one of the most destructive malware in recent years.
Thanks to this malware, he not only became a billionaire, but also caused losses worth more than 100 million euros. He is said to have the blessing of the Russian government, and it is rumored that the Kremlin's intelligence service exploited his information for international espionage.
It took two years for the FBI to learn just his name, and currently the US government is offering a $3 million reward to anyone who can bring him to justice.
Mikhailovich is said to have the blessing of the Russian government, and it is rumored that the Kremlin's intelligence service exploited his information for international espionage.
Matthew Bevan and Richard Pryce
This British hacker duo specialized in attacks on defense systems and military networks. Among others, they managed to penetrate the Griffiss Air Force Base or that of the Defense Information Systems Agency. However, their greatest performance was to hack the network of the Korean Atomic Research Institute (KARI), with which they dumped North Korean information into the United States military systems, and were accused of being about to provoke World War 3 ( you don't play with the North Koreans).
Jeanson James Ancheta
Jeanson James Ancheta has been a hacker whose main actions were based on the creation of zombie computer networks or botnets. In 2004 he came to control a network of more than 400,000 computers, which he rented to advertising companies in exchange for money. Because of this, he was sentenced to spend 57 months in prison, making him the first hacker sentenced to jail for using botnets.
Michael Calce has been one of the earliest hackers. At the age of only 15 years, Calce, known as "Mafiaboy", took control of a series of university networks, thanks to which he managed to compromise the security of what was then the leading search engine on the Internet, Yahoo (we are talking about the year 2000). Throughout his career as a hacker, Calce has proven capable of compromising the security of Internet giants such as Dell, CNN, Ebay or Amazon, almost always using DDoS attacks or denial of service.
Throughout his career as a hacker, Calce has proven capable of compromising the security of Internet giants such as Yahoo, Dell, CNN, Ebay and Amazon.
alexsey belanAlexsey Belan is a hacker from Latvia who is currently wanted. He is one of the most well-known hackers of recent years, since he had a quite famous blog on the net about hacking. He managed to hack video game servers, online services and websites dedicated to telecommunications. He also advised other hackers in exchange for money, and sold the user data he stole to the highest bidder. It is estimated that between 2013 and 2016 he was able to steal more than 600 million accounts.
kevin poulsenIf we talk about famous hackers, we can't forget about Kevin Poulsen either. He was another example of precocity in the field of hacking, since at only 17 years old he managed to hack, no more and no less, than ARPANET, the Pentagon's computer network.
Although the US government forgave him and he was not convicted of being a minor, this did not serve as a lesson. Poulsen continued his criminal activities and again managed to hack into a federal network to obtain information on Ferdinand Marcos, the former president of the Philippines.
As a result, he had to hide for some time, in which, of course, he did not stop acting as a cybercriminal. He even hacked a radio program so that his call resulted in the winning of a millionaire prize.
He ended up being arrested and sentenced to not being able to use a computer for three years. After that, it seems that Poulsen reformed and now works as a journalist in the well-known online outlet Wired.
Poulsen is another example of precocity in the field of hacking, since at only 17 years old he managed to hack ARPANET, the Pentagon's computer network.
Today, Nicolae Popescu is one of the most wanted hackers in the world. The FBI is offering a million dollar reward for him. Popescu was the main leader of a gang of cybercriminals who were defrauding users on an auction website. The gang was dismantled in 2012, but Popescu was not arrested and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Jonathan James has the "honor" of being the youngest person ever convicted of cybercrime. He became known for hacking into the networks of numerous companies. However, what really put the authorities' focus on him was the hacking of the US Department of Defense networks, with which he had access to more than 3,000 confidential messages between members of the government.
Because of this, he was sentenced to six months of house arrest and banned from using a computer, even for recreational purposes. He was also sentenced to six months in prison for violating probation.
James was also the main suspect in the hacking of the TJX warehouse security system, although there was never any evidence to prove it. James committed suicide in 2008 and left a suicide note in which he said the following:
“ I do not believe in the judicial system. Perhaps my act today and this letter will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I lost control of this situation and this is the only way to get it back .”
James hacked the networks of the US Department of Defense, thanks to which he had access to more than 3,000 confidential messages between members of the government.
ASTRAASTRA is one of those famous hackers whose true identity is unknown. It is said that a 61-year-old Greek mathematician is hiding behind him, but it is not known for sure. ASTRA hacked the Dassault Group for five years. During that period of time he stole technological software and data on advanced weaponry which he sold to the highest bidder. His activities caused the company almost 400 million dollars in losses.
AnonymousOf all the famous hacker groups, Anonymous is probably the best known. It was created in 2003 in the well-known internet forum 4chan. Anonymous is not a group with a defined structure, nor is it known for sure who is part of it. The absence of an organization or hierarchy makes it more difficult to contain their activities.
Anonymous usually focuses its actions on the defense of freedom of expression, access to information and the independence of the Internet. He has attacked various organizations, such as the Church of Scientology, Daesh, and numerous government censorship systems around the world.
Anonymous is not a group with a defined structure, nor is it known for sure who is part of it. The absence of an organization or hierarchy makes it more difficult to contain their activities.
Generally, when talking about famous hackers, reference is made to cybercriminals from the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia or Israel, among other countries. However, there are other countries like North Korea that are hardly known about, but are sure to have armies of well-trained hackers.
In recent times, the existence of a government group of hackers in North Korea called Bureau 121 has emerged. In fact, it is suspected that they were the creators of the WannaCry ransomware , one of the most destructive in recent years and that caused 4,000 million dollars in damages. They were also responsible for the Sony Pictures hack. Not bad for a country where citizens are not allowed access to the internet.
Surely, he is the most famous hacker in Spain or, at least, the most mediatic, especially for his appearance on television programs such as 'El Hormiguero'. His actions made the Telefónica company look at him for its cybersecurity department, to the point that a while ago he replaced Ian Small as the company's head of data.
Jesús Antón is one of the best hackers in Spain. He became one of the most valued for his ability to sneak into the security systems of large companies. Antón, whose alias as a cracker was Potato Chips, always moved in the shadows and hardly left a trace on the internet. Now, he has reformed to become part of the Big Four KPMG ethical hacking team.
Sergi Álvarez, alias Pancake, is known for having developed Radare, an open source tool platform for reverse engineering processes. Álvarez was hacking code relentlessly for seven years until success came to him. Today he is known for having been the creator of the largest free cybersecurity project in Spain, and is widely recognized among the international ethical hacking community.
Rubén Santamaría is another Spanish hacker who has dedicated most of his activities to detecting flaws in security systems. For example, he detected a vulnerability in aircraft entertainment systems that allowed him to take control of cabin lighting, or movie and music playback devices.
Going a little further, Santamaría discovered a vulnerability in the nuclear radiation monitoring systems at various nuclear power plants around the world. Since then, he has worked together with the National Center for the Protection of Critical Infrastructures and the National Institute of Cybersecurity (INCIBE), to notify and solve these security breaches in the nuclear power plants in Spain affected by this problem.
Rafael Ahucha and Sergio Lara
Rafael Ahucha and Sergio Lara created between 2001 and 2003 a program for Windows called Themida. It is an executable file protector with which, according to their own words, they sought to " cover all the weaknesses that we had seen in our years of breaking other protectors (...) all the protections were designed so that we ourselves, who knew how to it was done, it was almost impossible for us to unprotect it .” Almost 20 years later, Themida is still a secure tool and almost impossible to exploit.
These are some of the famous hackers who have gone down in history, some for more ethical reasons than others, no doubt. The truth is that today many large companies stick to being able to count on the services of these computer experts. In this case, the enemy is better to have at home.
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Cultural journalist with great interest in education and technological innovation in the classroom. The future passes through technology and it is already here. .