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Kevin Mitnick was one of the most talented hackers,
and the one one most prosecuted by the state. Mitnick's hacker handle
was "Condor". He became the first hacker to appear
on an FBI "Most Wanted" poster, for breaking into the Digital Equipment Company
computer network. When he was captured he was sentenced to a year in a treatment
center to get over his "computer addiction".
In February, 1995, Mitnick was arrested again for breaking into various computers
and downloading 20,000 credit card numbers. In April, 1996, he pleaded guilty
to illegal use of stolen cellular telephone numbers. But his most celebrated hacking
exploits involved breaking into company computers and downloading proprietary
software as a kind of trophy to prove that his hack was successful.
The story of Mitnick's capture is described in The
Hacker Takedown, starting with the discovery by security expert Tsutomu Shimomura
that his computer had been hacked, and ending by tracking the incursion to a specific
modem in a NETCOM.com site in Raleigh, North
Carolina. Finally, the FBI used cell-phone tracking equipment to find and capture
Mitnick in his apartment.
Because Mitnick was seen to be so dangerous around any electronic network,
he was held in jail without bail for four years without trial, before finally
pleading guilty and accepting a five year sentence including time served, and
was freed ten months later in January 2000. However, even then, the conditions
of his release included no contact with a computer or a cell phone, making it
difficult for him to make a living.
Mitnick has become something of a celebrity in hacker circles
due to his unusually vigorous, some say unfair, prosecution by the state authorities.
groups have broken into various websites and posted messages in Mitnick's defence,
most notably on the website of the New York Times.
information on Kevin Mitnick can be found at FreeKevin.com.