Legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick died on July 16 after fighting pancreatic cancer for over a year.
Before his death, Mitnick was famous for his hacking sprees in the 90s involving data and credit card thefts.
Kevin Minick dead at 59
A spokeswoman for the company Mitnick partly owned, KnowBe4, has confirmed that he has been battling pancreatic cancer for 14 months. He died on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
A memorial for Mitnick will take place on August 1 in Las Vegas. He is survived by his wife Kimberly, who is currently carrying their first child.
Once the world’s most famous hacker spent years in jail following a federal manhunt. After his release in 2000, he reinvented himself by taking the mantle of a white hat hacker. He also worked as a cybersecurity consultant and author.
His business partner, Stu Sjouwerman, said in a statement on KnowBe4 that Mitnick is “truly a luminary in the development of the cybersecurity industry.”
Much of his life reads like a fiction story, his obituary tells. With that said, it’s no surprise that his hacking career inspired several movies, including WarGames starring Matthew Broderick.
In 2011, Mitnick published his memoir, “Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker.”
Mitnick’s hacking career
Mitnick was once the world’s most-wanted hacker. He was involved in stealing over 20,000 credit card numbers and data files. Some of the information belonged to Silicon Valley moguls, potentially causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
However, there is no evidence that he actually used anything he stole to gain any sort of profit. He referred to his attacks as high stakes but harmless. In a 2008 interview for Wired magazine, he said he only did it for “intellectual curiosity.”
Mitnick’s schemes first caught up with him when he was arrested for a huge hacker attack on Digital Equipment Corporation in 1988. He stole about 1$ million in proprietary software for which he was sentenced to one year in prison and three years of probation.
He violated the probation and the authorities issued a new warrant against him. Mitnick then went on his biggest hacking spree and was a fugitive for two-and-a-half years. He used cloned cell phones to hide his location.
Some of the crimes he committed during this period include breaking into corporation and educational institution computer systems. Mitnick also intercepted and stole numerous computer passwords and broke into private emails while on the run.
He was caught after a well-publicized pursuit and sentenced to four years in prison, plus two years for violating the terms of his previous sentence.
During his time in prison, he spent nine months in solitary confinement as authorities feared he could continue hacking just by being in the proximity of a telephone.
His hacking career inspired numerous modern cybercriminals. With more data being stored online and 94% of organizations allowing remote access to work, such attacks remain a huge risk for corporations.