Once ‘most wanted hacker’, Kevin Mitnick passes away at the age of 59

He took his last breath at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Sunday after fighting a 14-month-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mitnick was a renowned hacker, and his introduction to the digital world began in 1979 when he was nearly 12 years old. In 1988, he faced legal consequences for his acts and was sentenced to a 12-month prison for software copying.

But he didn’t stop with the conviction, thereafter, he broke various systems, which include Pacific Bell’s voicemail computers, during the 90s as a fugitive.

Kevin Mitnick was the only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude towards authority and a love for magic, who grew up brilliant and relentless in the San Fernando Valley in California.

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He faced ignominy as he broke up several government sites and corporate networks, including Pacific Bell, and stole corporate data and credit card information. He gained illegal access to about 20,000 credit card numbers, some of them belonging to influencers of Silicon Valley, causing millions of dollars in damage to corporate computer operations.

FBI searched for Kevin Mitnick for nearly two years, and ultimately, he was arrested in the year 1995, where he pleaded guilty to computer and wire fraud and spent five years in prison.

After completing his five-year sentence, Kevin Mitnick was released in 2000, and thereafter, he reinvented himself to become a white hat hacker and renowned author and consultant.

He co-owned KnowBe4, a security awareness training and phishing simulation company. 

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In his memoir, Ghost in the Wires, Mitnick wrote that he never used his skill to steal or exploit information for financial gain.

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.”

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