Notable hackers

This section contains brief information on some of the most famous hackers, both black and white hats. The individuals below are well known for a variety of reasons: their actions, whether good or bad, their contributions to software and technology development, or their innovative approach, skills and ability to think out of the box.

Richard Stallman is known as the father of free software. When Stallman started working at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab in 1971 he was confronted with ‘non disclosure agreements’ and closed program sources while he was hacking and improving system drivers the ‘traditional way’. After an interesting battle to obtain the source code of a faulty printer utility, Stallman gave up his job and became the loudest advocate for free computer software, creating GNU and the Free Software Foundation in the process.

Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson are famous for two major software developments of the 20th century: the UNIX operating system and the C programming language. These two began their carriers at Bell Labs in 1960’s, revolutionising the computer world forever with their ideas. While Ken Thompson has retired from the computer world, Dennis Ritchie is still employed at Lucent Technology, working on a new operating system derived from Unix, called ‘Plan9’.

John Draper, aka ‘Cap’n Crunch’ is famous for his ability to hack phone systems using nothing but a whistle from the ‘Cap’n Crunch’ cereal boxes (hence the nickname). Besides being the father of ‘phone phreaking’, John Draper is also famous for writing what was perhaps the first IBM PC word processor. He now heads his own security venture, developing antispam solutions, thwarting hacker attacks and securing PCs.

Robert Morris is famous for creating the first Internet worm in 1988. It infected thousand of systems, and practically brought the Internet to a halt for nearly a day. The ‘Morris Worm’ was perhaps the first fully automated hacking tool, exploiting a couple of unpatched vulnerabilities on Vax and Sun computers.

Kevin Mitnick, possibly the best known case of a ‘black hat’, was caught by the computer expert Tsutomu Shimomura back in 1995.

Kevin Poulsen remains famous for his 1990 hack of the phone system in Los Angeles. This enabled him to become the 102nd caller in a radio-phone and win a Porsche 944. Kevin Poulsen was eventually caught and imprisoned for three years. He now works as a columnist for the online security magazine ‘SecurityFocus’.

Vladimir Levin, a Russian computer expert, hacked into Citibank and extracted USD $10 million. He was arrested by Interpol in UK, back in 1995 and sentenced to three years in prison, as well as being required to pay USD $240,015 in restitution.

Tsutomu Shimomura is a good example of a ‘white hat’. He was working for the San Diego Supercomputing Center when Kevin Mitnick broke into his network and stole information on cellular technology and other classified data. Tsutomu started the pursuit for Mitnick which eventually led to his arrest.

Linus Torvalds is known as the father of Linux, the most popular Unix-based operating system in use nowadays. Linus started his work on a new operating system in 1991, adopting several controversial technologies for his project, namely the concept of Free Software and GNU’s Public License system. He is also known for his early disputes with Andrew Tannenbaum, the author of Minix, which was the inspirational source for Linus’ OS project.


Gas is too expensive? Let’s make it cheap!

A search online lead me to a discovery I didn’t think was possible nowadays. I realized almost immediately that critical security issues were probably involved. I found that out of the many tens of thousands of gas stations the company claimed to have installed their product in, 1,000 are remotely hackable. Read Full Article


DDoS attacks in Q4 2017

Q4 2017 represented something of a lull: both the number and duration of DDoS attacks were down against the previous quarter. At the same time, the increase in the number of attacks on honeypot traps in the runup to holiday sales indicates that cybercriminals are keen to expand their botnets at the most opportune moment by pressuring owners of online resources and preventing them from making a profit. Read Full Article


IoT lottery: finding a perfectly secure connected device

Being enthusiastic shoppers just like many other people around the world, at Kaspersky Lab we are, however paranoid enough to look at any Internet of Things (IoT)-device with some concern, even when the price is favorable. So we randomly took several different connected devices and reviewed their security set up. Read Full Article


Threat Predictions for Connected Health in 2018

In 2017, Kaspersky Lab research revealed the extent to which medical information and patient data stored within the connected healthcare infrastructure is left unprotected and accessible online for any motivated cybercriminal to discover. This risk is heightened because cyber-villains increasingly understand the value of health information, its ready availability, and the willingness of medical facilities to pay to get it back. Read Full Article


Threat Predictions for Automotive in 2018

Remote fault diagnostics, telematics and connected infotainment significantly enhance driver safety and enjoyment, but they also present new challenges for the automotive sector as they turn vehicles into prime targets for cyberattack. The growing risk of a vehicle’s systems being infiltrated or having its safety, privacy and financial elements violated, requires manufacturers to understand and apply IT security. Read Full Article


Kaspersky Security Bulletin: Threat Predictions for 2018

Looking back at a year like 2017 brings the internal conflict of being a security researcher into full view: on the one hand, each new event is an exciting new research avenue for us, as what were once theoretical problems find palpable expression in reality. On the other hand, as people with a heightened concern for the security posture of users at large, each event is a bigger catastrophe. Read Full Article