Kevin Mitnick: Infamous Hacker

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Alexander Kogl
CIT160 – Brim
Kevin Mitnick: inFAMOUS Hacker
In the 1990’s, Kevin Mitnick, aka Condor, was the most-wanted hacker in America. He got his start at the early age of 12, using a workaround to the L.A. transit punch card system. Condor’s notoriety increased after gaining his first successful unauthorized access to a computer network in 1979. His actions give him the title of hacker as defined in the course textbook because he has intentionally entered computer systems to which he would otherwise not have access. After spending time on the run for his crimes and in prison, he is now one of the most sought-after consultants in the industry.

While no one knows for sure how many systems were breached during Mitnick’s heyday, there are some confirmed hacks that made the list. In order to stay on the run, he had to hack into every resource available at the time. Major companies such as Motorola, Siemens, Fujitsu, and Nokia all fell victims to Kevin Mitnick. Valuable, proprietary software was copied and used against them, their networks altered, accounts stolen and changed, and phones cloned. The final total in damages Condor caused may never be fully known.

Interestingly, Mitnick’s last mistake was hacking into a fellow hacker’s computer system. This hacker, Tsutomu Shimomura, was so incensed that he made it a personal vendetta to find Mitnick. Joining forces with the FBI and forming a task force, Tsutomu spent two years hunting Condor down and eventually pinpointing his whereabouts in North Carolina.

Kevin Mitnick’s actions forced companies to rethink the security of their infrastructures. Any student studying computer security should study his methods. Why? Knowing about the history and precedents set by these early hackers can help prevent the same things from happening again in the future. While technology has made many advances, many of the tools and techniques Kevin Mitnick used back in the 1990s are still quite prominent today....
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