Kevin Mitnick gained attention in the 1980s for his hacks, back when there was little competition for the crown of super hacker. Convicted on charges related to cyber crimes in the late 1980s,he couldn’t resist hacking the phone company once on supervised release. When the government issued an arrest warrant for that penetration, Mitnick fled and spent two years being chased by law enforcement. See his wanted poster below. Supporters turned him into a folk hero in some quarters. Once in custody, he was sentenced to years in prison, getting out in 2000.
Once released, Mitnick was order to have no communications and IT technology other than a landline phone. He went on to write books about hacking.
This report notes that Mitnick had the mind of a social engineering from a young age: “…Mitnick’s first brush with social engineering and the concept of hacking came at the age of 12, when he convinced an LA bus driver to tell him where he could obtain a mechanical ticket punching device, which he used to ride buses across the city for free after finding unused transfer slips that the bus company had left in a dumpster.
By the late 1970s, Mitnick had graduated to become a practitioner of the vanishing ‘art’ of phone phreaking, and from there to hacking computer systems. At the age of 16, he broke into the network of microcomputer pioneer Digital Equipment Corporation – which was ultimately to become part of Compaq and later HP – and copied its operating system software.”
Kevin Mitnick died at age 59 from cancer earlier this year.