Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick

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The word hacker in today’s society has many meaning, but the definition that I will be talking about in this paper is best described by dictionary.com as, "One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a computer network or file."[1] According to wikipedia.com there are three different types of hackers, white hat hackers, grey hat hackers and black hat hackers. A white hat hackers is, “. . .a person who is ethically opposed to the abuse of computer systems. Realizing that the Internet now represents human voices from all around the world makes the defense of its integrity an important pastime for many.”[2] A grey hat hacker is, “. . .a skilled hacker who sometimes acts legally and in good will and sometimes not. They are a hybrid between white and black hat hackers. They hack for no personal gain and do not have malicious intentions, but occasionally may or may not commit crimes in their actions.”[3] And lastly a black hat hacker is, “a malicious or criminal person whose correct label is "cracker". . .Usually a Black Hat refers to a person that maintains knowledge of the vulnerabilities and exploits they find as secret for private advantage, not revealing them either to the general public or manufacturer for correction.”[4]
One of the world’s most notorious black hat hackers goes by the alias Condor, named after the Robert Redford movie, “Three Day’s of the Condor”[7]. This is none other than the notorious, Kevin Mitnick. He has been a major thorn in the side of many companies computer networks since the beginning. His first major “crack” was in 1979, “. . .when a friend gave him the phone number for the Ark, the computer system at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) used for developing their RSTS/E operating system software. He broke into DEC's computer network and copied DEC's software. . .”[5] This in turn gave him not only the ability to make free phone calls but also listen in and eavesdrop on anyone he pleased.[6]
Kevin’s first run-in with the law was actually caused by an angry girlfriend of one of Mitnick’s associates. After physically breaking into the one of the U.S biggest Computer System for Mainframe Operations, “. . .a database used by many of the nation's phone companies for controlling the phone system's basic record keeping functions.”[8] He stole lists of computer passwords, including the combinations to the door locks at nine Pacific Bell central offices and a series of operating manuals for the COSMOS system.

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Mitnick was sentenced to three months in a juvenile correction centre and a years probation.[8]
A few years later he was busted using one of the computers at the University of South California’s computers to hack into a computer at the pentagon using their ARPAnet. “The ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) developed by DARPA of the United States Department of Defense, was the world's first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the global Internet.”[9] Before any major harm could be accomplished he was busted by the universities campus enforcement.
A third incident occurred in 1988 when, “Kevin and a friend, Lenny DiCicco, fought a pitched electronic battle against scientists at Digital Equipment's Palo Alto research laboratory. Mitnick had become obsessed with obtaining a copy of Digital's VMS minicomputer operating system, and was trying to do so by gaining entry to the company's corporate computer network, known as Easynet. The computers at Digital's Palo Alto laboratory looked easiest, so every night with remarkable persistence Mitnick and DiCicco would launch their modem attacks from a small Calabasas, California company where DiCicco had a computer support job. Although Reid discovered the attacks almost immediately, he didn't know where they were coming from, nor did the local police or FBI, because Mitnick was manipulating the telephone network's switches to disguise the source of the modem calls.”[10] This being Kevin’s biggest crime to date he pulled off all the stops, by even hacking into the phone companies data base and scrambling the address given off by the modem this dumbfounded the FBI I and added a new charge to wrap sheet, “Evading The FBI”.[11] This time it turns out that Mitnick was his own worst enemy, being cursed with a sense of humour and a big ego Mitnick decided to the prank DiCicco by continuously phoning his boss claiming that, “DiCicco was in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.”[12] This continuous harassment inevitably cause DiCicco to confess and in turn Mitnick was busted as well. Mitnick then found himself sitting in a court room facing serious charges of count of computer fraud and one count of possessing illegal long-distance access codes. But in an unlikely and controversial turn of events, Mitnick was let off again with what some especially DEC think of as another slap on the wrist and was sentenced to one year in prison and six months in a counselling program for his computer addiction.
After finishing his rehabilitation in 1990 he got a job through his father’s friend at Tel Tec Detective Agency. “Soon after he began, someone was discovered illegally using a commercial database system on the agency's behalf, and Kevin was once again the subject of an FBI investigation. In September the Bureau searched his apartment, as well as the home and workplace of another member of the original phone phreak gang. Two months later a federal judge issued a warrant for Mitnick's arrest for having violated the terms of his 1989 probation. There were two charges: illegally accessing a phone company computer, and associating with one of the people with whom he'd originally been arrested in 1981. His friends claimed Mitnick had been set up by the detective firm; whatever the truth, when the FBI came to arrest him, Kevin Mitnick had vanished.”
He then reappeared in 1992 by using hacked law enforcement requester codes to get licences photos of a certain police informer from the Los Angeles D.M.V. Suspicions arose and the F.B.I were called in. They traced the fax numbers and realized it they belonged to a local copy shop, they then staked out this copy shop where then involved in a foot-chase against Mitnick were he escaped. Soon after he was then arrested.
Today Kevin Mitnick, after all his run-ins with the law has turned his life around he now run’s a computer security company named, “Mitnick Security Consulting” and co-authored two books, “The Art of Deception (2002) (Co-authors William L. Simon and Steve Wozniak), which focuses on social engineering, and The Art of Intrusion (2005) (Co-author William L. Simon), focusing on real stories of security exploits.” He really shows you that anyone can turn their life around no matter how many mistakes they’ve made.

References

1)http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Hacker
2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28computing%29#White_Hat_Hacker
3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28computing%29#Grey_Hat_Hacker
4)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28computing%29#Black_Hat_Hacker
5)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick#Computer_hacking
6)http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html
7)http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html
8)http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html
9)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arpanet
10)http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html
11)http://www.takedown.com/bio/mitnick.html,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick#Computer_hacking
12)http://www.takedown.com/bio/index.html
13)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick#Recent_activity
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