Most Prolific Hackers (infographic)

Money. Power. Politics. A new Porsche. Any one of those can be sufficient motivation for a hacker to ply his trade. These days, even with the most sophisticated security in place, hackers continue to break through the inner sanctums of government, industry, and business to steal secrets and other sensitive information like weapons technology and credit card numbers. These guys are so good that some end up making a legitimate profession by using their hacking skills. Let’s take a look back to learn about the most prolific computer hackers and the motivations behind their exploits.

As long as there have been computers, there have been hackers. Through the use of computers to gain unauthorized access to everything from radio station phone lines to government agencies, hackers have a wide variety of motives for their actions. Join us as we list the most prolific hackers to date.

Alias: The Homeless Hacker
Name: Adrian Lamo
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Threat analyst
Agenda: Unkown

Best Known For:

Using coffee shops and libraries as his command centers, Adrian earned his alias by hacking into The New York Times, Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.

After an arrest and 6 months of house arrest in 2003, Lamo became an American threat analyst. He was one who turned in U.S. soldier Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning) for leaking thousands of government socuments, which shined the spotlight on the now infamous WikiLeaks website for the first time.

Alias: ASTRA
Name: Withheld from public
Country of Origin: Greece
Current Status: Inactive following arrest in 2008
Agenda: $$$

Best Known For:

This hacker has never been publicly identified, though it is suspected he was a 58-year-old math teacher. Astra spent over half a decade hacking into the aviation company Dassault Group’s inner sanctums to steal and sell weapons technology information.

Alias: Dark Dante
Name: Kevin Poulsen
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Senior editor for Wired magazine
Agenda: A new Porsche 944 S2

Best Known For:
Being the first American to be banned from the Internet and computers for 3 years after his release from a 5-year prison sentence for hacking.
Poulson hacked the phone lines of a local radio station to rig a competition in which he would be the 102nd caller, winning the grand prize.

Alias: Cumbajohnny, Segvec, Soupnazi, Kingchilli
Name: Albert Gonzalez
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Inactive, currently in prison until 2025
Agenda: $$$

Best Known For:
Starting shadowcrew.com, a website that gained up to 4,000 followers where stolen or fake passports, driver’s licenses, bank account information, debit and credit cards, etc. were bough and sold.
He hacked TJX Companies and Heartland Payment Systems to steal upwards of 45 million debit and credit card numbers. Gonzalez was arrested in 2008 for this crime.

Alias: The Condor, The Darkside Hacker
Name: Kevin Mitnick
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Security consultant and author of two books
Agenda: Social engineering

Best Known For:
Being “the most wanted computer criminal.”

Mitnick started his illustrious career by bypassing the punch card system on the city bus line in Los Angeles. Soon he was hacking Motorola, IBM, the Pentagon, and others.
In 1995, a judge placed him in solitary confinement, fearing Mitnick’s skills were so diverse he could start a nuclear war by whistling codes into a payphone.

Alias: c0mrade
Name: Jonathan James
Country of Origin: USA
Current Status: Committed suicide in 2008
Agenda: Unknown

Best Known For:
Being the first juvenile to be tried and sentenced for hacking in America.

At 15, James began hacking into the Miami-Dade School System, Bell South, the Department of Defense, and NASA. He also intercepted source code for the International Space Staion, causing NASA to shut down its computers for 3 weeks to fix the breach.

Alias: Unknown
Name: Vladimir Levin
Country of Origin: Russia
Current Status: Whereabouts unkown
Agenda: $$$

Best Known For:
Without using the internet, but instead, a telecommunications system, he was able to gain access to millions of dollards, which he siphoned off and split between his 2 partners. After serving 3 years in prison, he was ordered to pay back only part of the money because that was all that could be recovered.

Alias: Solo
Name: Gary McKinnon
Country of Origin: England
Current Status: Currently lives in England
Agenda: Looking for evidence of UFO’s

Best Known For:
Hacking into 100 American military and NASA servers from his girlfriend’s aunt’s house. He deleted sensitive software, files, and data.
Later he shut down 2,000 comptuers in the US Army’s Military District of Washington network in just 24 hours, making it the largest military computer hack of all time, rendering the US military network inoperable for days.

Alias: Syrian Electronic Army (group)
Name: Unknown
Country of Origin: Syria
Current Status: Active
Agenda: Support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Best Known For:
Hacking US President Barack Obama’s and the Associated Press’ Twitter feeds are just two of the high-profile altercations they’ve been involved in. The Syrian Electronic Army has also attacked political opposition groups, western news organizations, human rights groups, government websites, and US defense contractors.

Alias: Anonymous (group)
Name: Unknown
Country of Origin: Multiple
Current Status: Active
Agenda: Social causes

Best Known For:

Being a group of individual members (known as Anons) from around the globe who unite for social causes.

Anonymous has attacked government, religious, and corporate websites.  Among their targets are the Vatican, the FBI, the CIA, Paypal, Sony, MasterCard, and Visa , as well as the Chinese, Israeli, Tunisian, and Ugandan governments.

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