The World’s Most Famous Computer Hackers

by tylercook on May 7, 2013

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Many individuals are surprised to hear that the original generation of hackers had absolutely no malicious intent. Over the years, electricians, coders, computer scientists, and a number of other professionals would tinker with electronics, source code, and the burgeoning internet in order to understand it better and create unique programs and services for their own use. It was not until the internet became a worldwide phenomenon that the phrase hacker became much more closely intertwined with criminal activity. Here is a closer look at a few of the most famous hackers, the feats they performed, and where they are today.

Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon is of Scottish decent, but he has become known as one of the most successful hackers in the world due to his alleged theft of countless files from United States government computers. These compared ranged from the private laptops of Air Force officers to top secret NASA computers. According to multiple claims by McKinnon, he was merely in search of information regarding government conspiracies and cover-ups for UFOs and renewable energy sources and committed no crimes.

From February 2001 to March 2002, McKinnon allegedly stole or destroyed over $700,000 worth of files from over 300 computers. Currently, the United States is trying to extradite this hacker, but he has successfully petitioned with the British Government in order to avoid extradition and the subsequent trials.

Albert Gonzalez

Albert Gonzalez has become famous among the annals of hackers due to the sheer amount of money that he was able to steal from U.S. citizens all the way up through 2010. This began with the theft of over 170 million credit card and ATM numbers. By the end of his career, Gonzalez came close to stealing over half the nation’s population worth of bank and credit cards.

When Gonzalez and his team of hackers named ShadowCrew hacked TJX Company and Heartland Payment Systems, they would make just over $5 million dollars in a few days. Finally, in 2010 Albert Gonzalez was caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison, two sentences that he would serve out simultaneously.

Jonathan James

Jonathan James remains one of the most impressive hacking stories as well as the most violent. Also known by his handle cOmrade, a name that has become famous within the internet’s history, James was able to hack Bell South, The U.S. Department of Defense, and NASA within just a single year. Making this feat even more impressive, James was just 15 at the time. From NASA’s network alone, James downloaded the schematics and technical information of the International Space Station, information that would come to be worth millions of dollars.

James was eventually caught and sentenced to juvenile hall amongst a slew of other fees and penalties and would come to be released a few years later. Unfortunately, after his release there were a number of high profile network attacks on international companies. James was immediately blamed and multiple companies and government agencies began setting up lawsuits against him. Feeling as if he had no chance at winning these cases against high-profile companies, James committed suicide in 2008.

These are just a few of the world’s most renowned hackers that have made history by hacking into multi-national corporations and some of the most powerful government agencies in the world. Standing by these infamous hackers includes a number of other well-known names including Kevin Mitnick, Kevin Poulson, and Adrian Lamo.


This article was composed by Henry Whitmore, a freelance writer who pens articles on a variety of tech subjects, including computer software, computer engineering, gadgetry, cell phones, computer accessories and so forth.




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