On Wednesday, a sad announcement was made – Kevin Mitnick, the famed hacker-turned-security consultant passed away at the age of 59. After his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer more than a year ago, he underwent treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, until his passing on Sunday.
Mitnick rose to fame in the 90s as one of the US’s most wanted computer criminals, with a crime spree involving the theft of thousands of data files and credit card numbers from computers across America. Utilizing cutting-edge skills, Mitnick accessed and tampered with government, corporate and university computer systems.
In 2000, he was released from prison and began a new career as a security consultant, writer, and public speaker. His work in cybersecurity earned him accolades worldwide and furthered his status as an iconic figure, beloved by many.
The loss of Mitnick has left not only a somber atmosphere but also a great void in the world of cybersecurity. Condolences will no doubt continue to be shared in remembrance of this distinguished figure, whose invaluable contributions have instilled passion and security in both peers and individuals alike. Rest in peace, Kevin Mitnick.
In 1995, after a relentless two-year manhunt, the FBI captured the world’s most wanted computer hacker – Kevin Mitnick. At the time, prosecutors alleged that Mitnick had access to corporate secrets worth millions of dollars and posed an immense threat. In response to his eventual conviction in 1998, supporters took over The New York Times website for several hours, forcing it to shut down.
Mitnick was born in Los Angeles as an only child of divorced parents and frequently moved around during his childhood. Despite his struggles with isolation, he developed an incredible affinity for technology at a young age. By 12 he was able to hack a bus pass, and later managed to decipher the mysteries of telephone companies’ switches and circuits while in high school.
When he was eventually sentenced, Mitnick was required to serve 46 months of imprisonment, while also being prohibited from using computers or cellphones upon his release. It was only through this near-unprecedented punishment that justice was served – but luckily through a memoir titled ‘Ghost in the Wires’ we now understand the fascinating inner workings of this remarkable individual.
By the age of 17, notorious hacker Kevin David Mitnick began testing the waters of cybercrime, planting his own backdoor entry points to corporate computer systems. It marked merely the beginning of a decades-long pursuit of digital subterfuge and an often thrilling game of cat and mouse with authorities.
In his memoir, titled ‘The Art of Invisibility’, Mr Mitnick pushed back against many of the accusations made against him and vehemently denied ever infiltrating government computers. As he wrote, “Anyone who loves to play chess knows that it’s enough to defeat your opponent. You don’t have to loot his kingdom or seize his assets to make it worthwhile.”
Mitnick’s legacy lives on in the life of his pregnant wife Kimberley, with whom he was expecting his first child, as expressed in an obituary published by the funeral home. A rebel in spirit, a master of elusion in practice, and a beloved partner in life – Kevin will be sorely missed.