Most Notorious Hackers of All Time: The act of finding and using network and system flaws to gain unauthorized access to those systems is known as computer hacking. Malicious hacking is not the norm. White hat hackers may work in cyber security or as software testers and engineers who look for flaws to patch. Black hat hackers work with nefarious motives.
Every year, hacking costs businesses and customers trillions of dollars. The hacking assault didn’t start right away. It took decades of labor by now-famous hackers to identify key flaws and expose the tactics that laid the groundwork for the internet and its libertarian free-for-all philosophy. The top ten most infamous hackers ever are listed below.
Top 10 Most Dangerous/Notorious Hackers of All Time 2024
1. Kevin Mitnick: Kevin Mitnick, a key player in American hacking, began his professional life as a teenager. He was accused of stealing computer manuals from Pacific Bell in 1981. His hacking of the North American Defense Command (NORAD) in 1982 served as the basis for the 1983 movie War Games. He breached the network of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1989 and copied its software. This action established Mitnick’s reputation because DEC was a well-known computer maker at the time.
Later, he was detained, found guilty, and imprisoned. He breached the voicemail systems of Pacific Bell while he was on restricted release.
In the course of his hacking career, Mitnick never made use of the information and access he gained. It’s commonly accepted that he once took complete control of Pacific Bell’s network to demonstrate that it was possible. For the Pacific Bell incident, a warrant was issued for his arrest; nevertheless, Mitnick eluded capture and spent more than two years hiding. He was apprehended and was sentenced to jail on many charges of wire fraud and computer fraud.
2. Anonymous: In an unknown thread on the 4chan message boards, Anonymous first appeared in 2003. The group lacks organization and has a hazy grasp of the idea of social justice.
For instance, the organization started blocking the Church of Scientology’s websites in 2008 after taking issue with them, which had a bad effect on its Google search results and caused its fax machines to become overrun with all-black pictures. A group of “Anons” wearing the now-famous Guy Fawkes mask marched through Scientology temples all around the world in March 2008.
The New Yorker observed that while the FBI and other law enforcement organizations have located some of the group’s more active members, the lack of a true hierarchy makes it nearly hard to identify or disband Anonymous as a whole.
3. Adrian Lamo: Adrian Lamo, then 20 years old, altered a Reuters story in 2001 by using an unsecured content management system at Yahoo to add a false remark that was supposed to be from the late Attorney General John Ashcroft. Lamo frequently hacked into networks and informed both the media and his victims afterward. To increase their security, he occasionally helped tidy up the mess.
However, as noted by Wired, Lamo went too far in 2002 when he gained access to The New York Times’ intranet, listed himself as an expert source, and started doing research on well-known public people. Lamo became known as “The Homeless Hacker” because he frequently had no fixed location and liked to travel the streets with just a rucksack.
4. Albert Gonzalez: Gonzalez first became well-known as the “troubled leader of the tech nerds” at his Miami high school, according to the New York Daily News. He then began engaging in the illicit online marketplace Shadowcrew.com, where he was known as one of the best hackers and moderators. Gonzalez, who was 22 years old, was apprehended in New York for stealing data from millions of card accounts in order to perpetrate debit card fraud. To escape going to jail, he enlisted in the Secret Service as an informant, which ultimately helped in the prosecution of other Shadowcrew members.
Gonzalez maintained his illegal activities while working as a paid informant. Gonzalez stole more than 180 million credit card accounts from businesses including OfficeMax, Dave and Buster’s, and Boston Market with the help of a number of accomplices. Gonzalez’s 2005 attack on US retailer TJX, according to The New York Times Magazine, was the first instance of a repeated credit data breach.
This well-known hacker and his gang broke into business networks using a straightforward SQL injection, creating back doors, and stole an estimated $256 million from TJX alone. Gonzalez was victimized in a way that the federal prosecution during his sentence in 2015 described as “unparalleled.”
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5. Matthew Bevan and Richard Pryce: Matthew Bevan and Richard Pryce are two British hackers that broke into numerous military networks in 1996, including Griffiss Air Force Base, the Defense Information System Agency, and the Korean Atomic Research Institute (KARI).
After they injected KARI research into American military systems, Bevan (Kuji) and Pryce (Datastream Cowboy) have been charged with almost sparking a third world war. According to Bevan, he was seeking evidence to support a UFO conspiracy idea. His situation is similar to Gary McKinnon’s, the BBC reports. Bevan and Pryce showed that even military networks are susceptible, whether or not there is malicious intent.
6. Jeanson James Ancheta: Jeanson James Ancheta has no interest in disrupting networks to enact social justice or hacking systems to steal credit card information. Ancheta was more interested in the usage of bots, which are software-based robots that are capable of infecting and ultimately taking control of computer systems.
In 2005, he was able to infiltrate more than 400,000 machines by using a number of sizable “botnets.”
In addition to receiving payment to personally install bots or adware on particular computers, he allegedly rented these machines out to advertising businesses. This is according to Ars Technica. Ancheta received a 57-month jail term. This was the first instance of a hacker being imprisoned for using a botnet.
7. Michael Calce: Michael Calce, popularly known as “Mafiaboy,” a 15-year-old, learned how to hijack computer networks at universities in February 2000. He pooled their resources to overthrow Yahoo, the leading search engine at the time. By utilizing a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) assault to overwhelm business servers and bring down their websites, he also shut down Dell, eBay, CNN, and Amazon within a week.
The biggest shock for supporters of the internet and investors in cybercrime came from Calce’s wake-up call. Was any online data truly safe if the largest websites in the world, valued at over $1 billion, could be so quickly shut down? It is hardly overstatement to claim that Calce’s attack made the creation of cyber crime laws an urgent government priority.
8. Kevin Poulsen: In contrast to the other hackers on this list, this one has never been named in the media. The Daily Mail claims that some information concerning ASTRA has, however, been made public. Specifically, he was identified as a 58-year-old Greek mathematician when he was detained by police in 2008. He allegedly spent close to five years hacking the Dassault Group.
He stole state-of-the-art software and data related to weapons technology during that period and sold it to 250 people worldwide. His hacking caused $360 million in losses for the Dassault Group. Nobody is sure why he has never disclosed his full identify, although the term “ASTRA” is a Sanskrit word meaning “weapon”.
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9. Owen Walker: Walker became well-known for developing the Trojan horse program Akbot, which was crucial in building one of the largest botnets in cyber history. Sensitive data was compromised and computer networks were disrupted by the Akbot, which infected thousands of computers worldwide. Walker was able to plan massive cyberattacks by using his skills in network manipulation and coding, which brought attention to the weaknesses in digital systems that are interconnected.
In 2008, his apprehension in New Zealand illuminated the worldwide scope of cybercrime and underscored the pressing requirement for global collaboration to counter such menaces. Walker’s legacy as a pioneer in cybercrime persists in shaping cybersecurity practices globally, even after he was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest and community service.
10. Jonathan James: James, regarded as one of the most infamous hackers of all time, became well-known for his bold compromise of well-known networks, including as those run by the Department of Defense and NASA. James’ activities sent shockwaves across the cybersecurity world, exposing the weaknesses of even the most purportedly secure systems. James is the first juvenile to be imprisoned for cybercrime in the United States.
His cyberattacks resulted in significant damage and the temporary suspension of vital government networks. James’ sad suicide in 2008 highlighted the serious consequences of his acts and increased attention to strengthening cybersecurity safeguards to prevent such breaches in the future, even though he was sentenced to six months of house imprisonment and probation.
Conclusion: The greatest hackers in the world come from all racial and geographic backgrounds, but they all have an early love of technology.
Numerous people on the top notable hackers list were early users of technology and tested the legal, ethical, and technical aspects of the cybersecurity and hacking fields. Their activities resulted in frameworks and rules that changed the cybersecurity and hacking industries.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka, ACMC, is a lawyer and a certified mediator/conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a developer with knowledge in various programming languages. Samuel is determined to leverage his skills in technology, SEO, and legal practice to revolutionize the legal profession worldwide by creating web and mobile applications that simplify legal research. Sam is also passionate about educating and providing valuable information to people.