Hacking is the act of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or network. Computer hacking usually refers to breaking into computers for malicious purposes, such as causing chaos or stealing information.
It can also mean using one’s skills in software development and programming to create new programs that do something useful for society instead of just making money for oneself.
Not all hacking is malicious. Some people may be looking for personal information or to steal money, but others may simply want to have some fun with technology. However, it’s true that most hackers are looking to cause some type of damage or harm in one way or another.
To hack is to invade someone or an organization’s privacy. By privacy, I mean their website. Hacking has gradually become a norm in the computer society where people manipulate your computer system or private network.
Websites that most people consider as a vault or a safe box are nothing in the hands of computer wizards. Well, it is not any surprise. Cyber security has been a catch-22 since the first internet connection existed in the 1960s.
Out of curiosity, hackers have access to your data and other private information. Some of these hackers are black hat hackers, white hat hackers, villains, crackers, cyber pirates, cyber-criminal, etc.
Most notorious hackers in the World
There are many hackers in existence, both the ones that are already caught and the ones still undercover. But here are the ten best prominent hackers in the world who had cracked open top-security systems.
Gary McKinnon broke the record of being the biggest military computer hacker of all time. He gained information on UFOs, but as the saying goes, curious eyes never get dry. He hacked the military and NASA websites from his girlfriend’s aunt’s house in London.
Gary McKinnon invaded 97 US military computers by installing viruses and deleting some files. As if it wasn’t enough, he had to ridicule the security forces by writing a “Your security is crap” notice on their website.
He was a genius, really for him to shut down the US Military’s Washington Network that consists of approximately 2000 computers within 24 hours.
Kevin Mitnick nicknamed Condor, the dark side hacker is known for his hacking strategy. He copied valuable private software by illegally invading the systems of DEC, Motorola, NEC corporation, Sun Microsystems, Nokia, and Fujitsu Siemens.
He was the most wanted cyber-criminal of the US and he became popular for a high-profile conviction and five-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to several fraud activities such as wire fraud, computer fraud, and wire communication intercepted illegally.
After his conviction, he became an affluent entrepreneur and a security consultant. But his deeds are always remembered.
It is funny how Kevin Poulsen came about. In his case, it is when you go for what you want and you get it. He hacked phone lines at KIIS-FM in Los Angeles so that he would be the 102nd caller and win Porsche 944 as the prize.
Kevin Poulsen was also known as Dark Dante. He went underground when the FBI started a search on him. He was later found guilty of wire and computer fraud, money laundering, and so on.
He is currently a Senior Editor at wired. He, in corporation with Aaron Swartz and James Dolan, designed SecureDrop. It is an open-source platform for secure communication between journalists and their sources.
You can never be too sure of the internet, not when hackers like Albert Gonzalez exist. He stole from the credit cards of netizens for two straight years. He broke the record of the biggest credit card theft.
About 170 million credits and ATM numbers were resold by him. How did he achieve it? He installed a sniffer and sniffed out computer data from internal networks. He was later convicted in prison for 20 years.
Another popular hacker but his ending was a sad one. He was the first Juvenile to be imprisoned at 16 years. He was also known as c0mrade. Jonathan James hacked into the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s servers of the US department.
He did this by installing a back door or a sniffer in the server and hacking the employees’ passwords. He scrutinized their messages passed on between them. He took their passwords, usernames, and other useful information. He as well stole NASA software worth $1.7 million.
He died of a self-inflicted wound of a gunshot in 2008.
Adrian Lamo was charged for breaking into high-profile computer networks including the New York Times, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, etc. Although his crime reached the climax of getting him arrested in 2003, he was later given the batch of an American Threat Analyst.
He could hack into prominent accounts at the comfort of cafeterias, libraries, internal cafes. Adrian Lamo lived from February 20, 1981, to March 14, 2018. It was gathered that he died of a drug-related issue that was not intentional when he was 37.
Aaron Swartz was one of the best hackers before his demise. He once helped to start Reddit, a popular online social network. He brought lots of attention to himself during his time of hacking.
He was later arrested by the government and was charged with hacking MIT’s network to download a massive cache of JSTOR academic data. The charges later grew into wire frauds and almost a dozen violations of the computer fraud and Abuse Act.
He was charged with a penalty of a million dollars and 35 years imprisonment. When the bargaining to reduce the sentence was in process, he took his life. A few years later, the Internet Hall of Fame inducted Swartz for founding online groups including Demand progress and their campaign against Online Privacy Act.
Anonymous do not represent only one person but a decentralized group of hackers that are not true members. Anyone could act as anonymous. Anyways, they started in 2003 on the 4chan message board.
With an exhibition of little organization, they were partially focused on the concept of social justice. For instance, they had an issue with church Scientology and started ruining their websites in 2008.
This event led to impacting negatively on the Church of Scientology’s search rankings in Google. Anonymous also took over their fax machines with black images. In the same year, a group of “anons” had a movement on Scientology centers around the word with Guy Fawkes mask.
The anonymous was also known to attack prominent targets including Amazon, PayPal, Sony, Westbro Baptist Church, parts of the dark web, the government of Australia, India, Syria, the United States, and others.
Since the group lacks any real hierarchy, it is difficult for the FBI and other law enforcement to remove the group as a whole even though they had caught some notable members of the group.
Unlike any other names listed in this article, Astra seems to be special. With all his activities, he has never been identified. But according to Daily Mail, he was once detained by the Authorities in 2008.
At that time, he was identified as a 58-year-old Greek Mathematician. Astra is Sanskrit for a weapon. Therefore the man dealt with stealing and selling weapons. He hacked into the systems of France’s Dassault Group and stole cutting-edge weapons technology software and data.
He sold them to 250 individuals around the world. This hacking of his lasted for as long as 5 years. His hacking effect caused the Dassault Group $360 million in damages. He had been wanted since 2002 and yet, his real identity has not been released.
Mathew Bevan and Richard Pryce
They were a team of British hackers. They came into the limelight when they hacked into military networks in the late 1990s. The duo almost triggered a global conflict between the USA and North Korea.
They leaked the important content of the Korean Atomic Research institute into the American military system. However, the information was more relevant to South Korea, therefore, less harmful.
Although Bevan insisted he was looking for information about UFOs, the hack on advanced military networks shows the weakness of highly classified networks which could have led to a serious international conflict.
The internet is a space where people come together to share ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Some of these top hackers aimed for good in the world while others just wanted money or fame – However, they all played an important role in creating what we know today as Cyber Security.
For highly classified networks to be hacked by just sitting in the comfort of their rooms with probably a cup of coffee at the table shows that the world wide web is not safe to put information.
But then again, desist from any site that could make your system vulnerable to an attack. Serious information that could lead two nations to war is stored in a highly coded system to prevent an easy hack.
You might not be sure yet, because there are computer geniuses who are ready to break down those protections.