Top 10 Most Notorious Hackers of all Time

Hacking is a process wherein one uses a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system. It is usually done to get information, to steal money or to simply annoy anyone. Yes, hackers are annoying and their actions wreak havoc. But undeniably, their skills are really amazing. Do you want to know who the top 10 most infamous hackers of all time are?

1.           Kevin Poulsen

Poulsen was only 17 years old when he hacked into the Arpanet of the US Department of Defense. But he was only put to jail after cracking a database on the federal investigation on Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. He went on the run when the feds noticed what he had done. While he was hiding, he won a Porsche and $20,000 by hacking into the phone lines of a radio station. He still did other hacking activities during the time he was underground.

He was also featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries. But then again, Poulsen allegedly used his hacking skills. When that TV show posted toll-free numbers for information leading to his arrest, all the show’s phone lines went dead.

But still, the TV show was the main reason why he was captured. Someone recognized him from the show. Yet, he did not stay too long as a prisoner. After he was released, he became a journalist for Wired Magazine and author of several books.

2.           Kevin Mitnick

Once known as the world’s most wanted social engineer, Kevin bypassed the punch card machine in the Los Angeles bus system when he was just fifteen years old. Since then, he started breaking into the systems of big companies in the world such as Nokia, Fujitsu and Motorola. However, he didn’t call himself a hacker but a professional security professional. He was captured in 1995 and released after five years.

Just like Poulsen, Mitnick has his own happily-ever-after. He managed to build his own computer security consultancy firm.  

3.           Mark Abene

Mark Abene

Mark Abene, also know as Phiber Optik, became a famous hacker for breaking phone systems during 1990s.  He was a member of Legion of Doom hacker group. He later founded another hacker group known as Masters of Deception (MOD).  On 1995, a non-fiction book Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace made Abene a significant figure.


4.           Adrian Lamo

Why does Adrian Lamo deserve to be included in the list of 10 most notorious hackers of all time? It’s because he was able to break into the system of the high-profile computer networks such as Yahoo!, New York Times and Microsoft. It is no doubt that the government wanted to arrest him. He was imprisoned in 2003.

Lamo is now working as a threat analyst. He also testified against Bradley Manning, the suspect on leaking government documents to Wikileaks.

5.           Robert Tappan Morris

Morris is an alumni of Cornell University and Harvard University. He was also a son of a high-ranking scientist of National Security Agency. He was the creator of the first widespread worm attack in the Internet which affected 6,000 major Unix machines. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three-year probation.

Today, he works as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

6.           Sven Jaschan

At the age of 18, Jaschan was busy creating a virus that would soon affect 60 percent of all the malware spreading at that time over the internet. This made Microsoft Company on putting up a bounty of $250,000 for anyone who could identify the author of NetSky. But since he was just a teenager during that year, he didn’t go to jail. He was sentenced with suspension and three-year probation.

Jaschan was eventually hired by Securepoint, a big German security firm.

7. David L. Smith

In early 1999, Melissa worm virus spread around the world and its damages reached around $80 million. Melissa was the first malware to be effectively transmitted as a macro mass-mailing virus. It was named after Smith’s favorite stripper. It would send emails to every address in client’s address book with the subject, “Here is the document you asked for”. Several links were included in the message that would lead you to different pornographic sites.

Smith pleaded guilty, sentenced to jail, and served as undercover to help the FBI in tracking other hackers.

8. Michael Calce

Shutting down a high-profile website is not that easy. What more if you are just a teenager? Using the name of MafiaBoy, the fifteen-year old Calce was able to temporary shutdown pages such as Yahoo!, Amazon, CNN, Dell, eBay and E*Trade. He got the attention of President Bill Clinton who made a special cyber security summit to look for him. It took them months to find him. After fourteen years, Calce is now helping companies with online security.


9. John Draper

Another notorious hacker is John Drapers. He is a legend in the hacker community. His hacking activities started when he found out that a toy whistle could be used to imitate telephone tones of AT&T. This enabled him to make free calls.

In 1971, he was arrested on toll fraud and sentenced to 5-year probation. His phone freaking activities also brought the attention of Steve Wozniak of Apple. For a short period, he helped in producing an interface board for the Apple II personal computer.


10. Jonathan James

Just like Calce, James was just fifteen years old when he successfully broke into several networks owned by the U.S. Department of Defense, Miami-Dade and Bell South. But what made him really famous was NASA’s network. When he infiltrated it under the name “cOmrade”, he got several files including the source code of the International Space Station. The estimated loss has reached around $1.7 million.

Because of his age, James managed to avoid being jailed. However, after eight years, he was suspected for another hacking case. Compared to other notorious hackers, he did not have his own happy-ever-after story. Afraid that he would be jailed for something he did not make, James committed suicide.

Do you know any other hacker that should be included on this list?

Share This Post

Post Comment