Famed Hacker Kevin Mitnick, a Symbol of a Generation, Passes Away
Famous hacker Kevin Mitnick, known as the 'Condor,' dies at 59 from pancreatic cancer.
Kevin Mitnick, known as the 'Condor', has passed away at the age of 59 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Mitnick gained notoriety as the world's most famous hacker during the 1990s, where he carried out numerous cybercrimes, including data theft and credit card number theft.
After being arrested in 1995, Mitnick was released from prison in 1998 and transformed his career to become an ethical hacker, eventually working for the CIA. In his later years, he became a security consultant, writer, and public speaker. Sadly, he leaves behind his wife, Kimberley Mitnick, and a child on the way, whom he will not have the chance to meet.
The news of Kevin Mitnick's passing was announced by a cyber security training company, a field in which he had made significant contributions, through a heartfelt statement.
The cause of his death was complications from pancreatic cancer, a battle he had been fighting for several months. He had taken a step back from his work as he underwent treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after being diagnosed over a year ago.
Mitnick's crime spree in the 1990s involved stealing vast amounts of data files and credit card numbers from computers throughout the country. He utilized his hacking skills to infiltrate telephone and cellular networks across North America, causing damage to government, corporate, and university computer systems.
During that time, he was considered the world's most wanted hacker, and after a manhunt lasting over two years, he was apprehended by the FBI in 1995. He faced charges of illegal use of a dial-up device and computer fraud. His arrest was a significant moment, as he allegedly had access to millions of dollars worth of corporate trade secrets, making him a major threat, according to Kent Walker, a former assistant US attorney in San Francisco.
Mitnick eventually pleaded guilty to computer and wire fraud as part of a plea bargain and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Upon his release, he faced strict probation conditions, including a ban on using computers or mobile phones without permission, highlighting the fear surrounding his hacking abilities.
The 'Condor' began his hacking journey at a young age, as early as 17, when he started exploring corporate computer systems and had his first encounter with the authorities. This marked the beginning of a decades-long cat-and-mouse game with law enforcement.
In his memoirs, Mitnick disputed many of the accusations against him, including hacking into government computer systems. He also emphasized that his focus was on defeating his opponents in the cyber world, rather than exploiting the credit card numbers he obtained. His analogy compared hacking to a game of chess, where victory over the opponent is enough, without the need to seize their possessions.
Kevin Mitnick's legacy as a hacker, turned ethical hacker, turned security consultant, writer, and public speaker, is a testament to his complex journey. His contributions to the field of cyber security and his ability to transform his skills are noteworthy. Despite the controversies surrounding his actions, his story serves as a reminder of the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity and the importance of ethical hacking in protecting digital systems.