Kevin Mitnick, a prominent figure in the world of hacking, who had once been one of the FBI’s most wanted cybercriminals, passed away at the age of 59.
Reforming the Infamous: Kevin Mitnick’s Journey
Kevin Mitnick had a notorious past, spending five years behind bars for computer and wire fraud after a two-year federal manhunt back in the 1990s. However, following his release in 2000, he transformed his life, becoming a renowned “white hat” hacker, cybersecurity consultant, and author.
A Courageous Battle Ends: Remembering Kevin Mitnick
On Sunday, Kevin Mitnick lost his fight against pancreatic cancer after bravely facing a challenging 14-month-long battle.
An Extraordinary Life: In Memory of Kevin Mitnick
“Kevin was an original; much of his life reads like a fiction story,” his obituary reads.
Early Life of a Brilliant Mind: Kevin Mitnick’s Origins
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley in California, Kevin Mitnick was a brilliant and restless child, an only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude toward authority, and a love for magic.
A Legacy of Infamy: Mitnick’s Activities in the 1990s
During the 1990s, Kevin Mitnick gained notoriety by breaking into government websites and corporate networks, including Pacific Bell, and stealing corporate data and credit card information.
The “Most Wanted” Hacker: Mitnick in the Eyes of Investigators
Investigators dubbed him the “most wanted” computer hacker in the world, leading to a two-year-long nationwide FBI manhunt that eventually resulted in his arrest in 1995. He eventually pleaded guilty to computer and wire fraud.
Defending His Actions: Mitnick’s Perspective
In his 2011 memoir, “Ghost in the Wires,” Kevin Mitnick denied using his skills to steal or exploit information for financial gain. He compared his actions to a game of chess, emphasizing the thrill of defeating opponents rather than resorting to malicious intentions.
The Rise of the “Free Kevin” Movement
Kevin Mitnick’s arrest triggered a movement within the hacking community known as “Free Kevin.” Supporters held rallies outside the prison where he was held, advocating for his release.
Becoming a “White Hat” Hacker: Mitnick’s Redemption
After his release from prison, Kevin Mitnick took a different path, becoming a “white hat” hacker, writer, and public speaker. A “white hat” hacker uses their skills to identify vulnerabilities and security issues in organizations, aiming to improve their security configurations.
Mitnick’s Impact on Cybersecurity: Founding Mitnick Security Consulting
In 2003, he founded Mitnick Security Consulting, an esteemed firm that provided cybersecurity advice to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
A New Venture: Chief Hacking Officer of KnowBe4
In 2011, Kevin Mitnick became the “chief hacking officer” and part-owner of KnowBe4, a company specializing in phishing security awareness training.
A Lasting Legacy: Remembering the World’s Most Famous Hacker
“Kevin will always remain ‘the world’s most famous hacker’ and was renowned for his intelligence, humor, and extraordinary technological skills, surpassed only by his talent as the original ‘social engineer,’” the company said in a statement on Thursday.