5 Of The World’s Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To Them

Most Famous Hackers Intro   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemThere are two types of hackers. First, you’ve got the kind that is so often portrayed by Hollywood as an anti-social nerd with a chip on his shoulder out to dominate the cyberworld by breaking into secure networks and messing things up. Second, you’ve got the kind of people who just enjoy fiddling around with software source code and hardware gigs.

That’s right. The term “hacker” originally referred to the second type, which held absolutely no malevolent connotations. Only recently has the term been used to refer primarily to criminal masterminds. There are good hackers and bad hackers! Nowadays, benevolent hackers are often called “white hats” while the more sinister are called “black hats.”

In this article, I’ll be talking specifically about famous hackers that don hats of black. Here are five of the most widely known black hatters and what happened to them for their recklessness.

Jonathan James

hacker jonathan james   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemJonathan James was known as “c0mrade” on the Internet. What is his ticket to fame? He was convicted and sent to prison for hacking in the United States–all while he was still a minor. At only fifteen years of age, he managed to hack into a number of networks, including those belonging to Bell South, Miami-Dade, the U.S. Department of Defense, and NASA.

Yes, James hacked into NASA’s network and downloaded enough source code to learn how the International Space Station worked. The total value of the downloaded assets equaled $1.7 million. To add insult to injury, NASA had to shut down their network for three whole weeks while they investigated the breach, which cost them $41,000.

The story of James has a tragic ending, however. In 2007, a number of high profile companies fell victim to a massive wave of malicious network attacks. Even though James denied any involvement, he was suspected and investigated. In 2008, James committed suicide, believing he would be convicted of crimes that he did not commit.

Kevin Mitnick

hacker kevin mitnick   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemKevin Mitnick’s journey as a computer hacker has been so interesting and compelling that the U.S. Department of Justice called him the “most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history.” His story is so wild that it was the basis for two featured films.

What did he do? After serving a year in prison for hacking into the Digital Equipment Corporation’s network, he was let out for 3 years of supervised release. Near the end of that period, however, he fled and went on a 2.5-year hacking spree that involved breaching the national defense warning system and stealing corporate secrets.

Mitnick was eventually caught and convicted, ending with a 5-year prison sentence. After serving those years fully, he became a consultant and public speaker for computer security. He now runs Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC.

Albert Gonzalez

hacker albert gonzalez   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemAlbert Gonzalez paved his way to Internet fame when he collected over 170 million credit card and ATM card numbers over a period of 2 years. Yep. That’s equal to a little over half the population of the United States.

Gonzalez started off as the leader of a hacker group known as ShadowCrew. This group would go on to steal 1.5 million credit card numbers and sell them online for profit. ShadowCrew also fabricated fraudulent passports, health insurance cards, and birth certificates for identity theft crimes totaling $4.3 million stolen.

The big bucks wouldn’t come until later, when Gonzalez hacked into the databases of TJX Companies and Heartland Payment Systems for their stored credit card numbers. In 2010, Gonzalez was sentenced to prison for 20 years (2 sentences of 20 years to be served out simultaneously).

Kevin Poulsen

hacker kevin poulsen   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemKevin Poulsen, also known as “Dark Dante,” gained his fifteen minutes of fame by utilizing his intricate knowledge of telephone systems. At one point, he hacked a radio station’s phone lines and fixed himself as the winning caller, earning him a brand new Porsche. According to media, he was called the “Hannibal Lecter of computer crime.”

He then earned his way onto the FBI’s wanted list when he hacked into federal systems and stole wiretap information. Funny enough, he was later captured in a supermarket and sentenced to 51 months in prison, as well paying $56,000 in restitution.

Like Kevin Mitnick, Poulsen changed his ways after being released from prison. He began working as a journalist and is now a senior editor for Wired News. At one point, he even helped law enforcement to identify 744 sex offenders on MySpace.

Gary McKinnon

hacker gary mckinnon   5 Of The Worlds Most Famous Hackers & What Happened To ThemGary McKinnon was known by his Internet handle, “Solo.” Using that name, he coordinated what would become the largest military computer hack of all time. The allegations are that he, over a 13-month period from February 2001 to March 2002, illegally gained access to 97 computers belonging to the U.S. Armed Forces and NASA.

McKinnon claimed that he was only searching for information related to free energy suppression and UFO activity cover-ups. But according to U.S. authorities, he deleted a number of critical files, rendering over 300 computers inoperable and resulting in over $700,000 in damages.

Being of Scottish descent and operating out of the United Kingdom, McKinnon was able to dodge the American government for a time. As of today, he continues to fight against extradition to the United States.

Now, do you know any famous hackers who should be in this hall of infamy? Put his (or her) name down in the comments.

Image Credit: Ninja Hacker Image Via Shutterstock

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.



What? No love for Robert Tappan Morris?

Joel Lee

Haven’t heard of him. Care to explain what he did? Or I can just Google him if you prefer. :D


First ever computer worm. He did it to impress a prostitute, if I remember correctly.

Joel Lee

Thanks. The things people will do for love and fame, eh?

Acid burn

Lol true and funny


plz explain me how to hack the all network


plz explain me how to hack the all network


No love for Robert Tappan Morris?

Kyem Ghosh

Jonathan James…. Oh I’m really amazed…. Hacked NASA??? My god…

Joel Lee

Yeah. Very skillful with computers. It’s a real shame what happened to him. :(

Kyem Ghosh

its indeed a shame…. A real shame for NASA too… They should have praised him for detecting their network’s security hole… They should have offered him a job…. Man he looks so young…


I would love to hack NASA as well =P


Excellent article. Please publish such a story about white hat hackers too.

Joel Lee

Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Perhaps I will write one on white hats!


i know some people who are a CEH for their job. (certified ethical hacker)

Joel Lee

I wasn’t aware that was an actual thing. Very cool!


Also look at LPT (Licensed Penetration Tester). They combine Ethical Hacking with Social Engineering to test the physical and information security of a company.

Very interesting if you look at it.


Oh yes. There are tons of books about the subject.

Nice article.

Susendeep Dutta

These hackers must be thanked for providing such useful information which was unnoticed by everyone.They must have been offered high salary with good incentives too,so that they’ll remain honest as well as serve to these industries.As this article clearly states that if they’re given a chance for their skills they can be a very useful asset.

Jaimin Mukharjee

Mr. Susendeep Dutta,
I am 1000 % Agree with you & your opinion that these kinds of such people
should be given a good chance in Military Intelligence, Defense or in computer Defense system of Country from which these hackers make sure of everything and tactfully they would make country’s people proud rather sending them in Prison is BAD – BAD Idea !! one can see “Om-Jai-Jagdish” Movie in Which Abhishek Bachhan Hacked University’s Site 2 Steal Exam papers and Later he used his hacking to save the IT company !! So this is how it should b done …
But Government in USA / INDIA or Anywhere… They have ILLNESS of IMPRISON their Mind & SOUL in Name of So CALLED ” JUSTICE ” !!


What’s up with all you people saying these theives should get hired or get a raise. Crime is a crime, would say the same thing about someone that broke into your house and stole all the jewelry? Because according to you, he helped find a point of break-in into your house and should be rewarded.

Joel Lee

You make a good point. However, with these people, it wasn’t just everyday systems that they were breaking into. It’d be like if someone managed to break into a bank’s vault or a king’s treasury–systems that people assume are unbreakable.

Still, should they be acknowledged? Definitely. Should they be rewarded? Probably not, especially if they did it with malicious intent.

Jaimin Mukharjee

Dear Joel, U Wrote a Nice Article & Thank you for providing such good info about Such GREAT People Who knows whatever they did they did the best out of them, instead sending them in JAIL, They should b given a Good JOB or AUTHORITY to Go Ahead for Security Systems of Government Organisations which are backbone of Country bt Government in USA / INDIA or Anywhere in this WORLD., They have ILLNESS of IMPRISON their Mind & SOUL in Name of So CALLED ” JUSTICE ” !!


I agree. A crime is a crime. Even more so if it is breaking into a tight vault. You can “thank” the intruder for pointing out the flaws, but still the criminal should be prosecuted.


Nahshon Even-Chaim a.k.a. Phoenix: he was An Australian hacker who also hacked NASA and alot of other defense networks. Before This guy Australia had no digital crime laws and the Australian federal Police had to learn how to hack just to be able to catch him and the group he belonged to. Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahshon_Even-Chaim

Joel Lee

Haven’t heard of him before you mentioned it. Thanks for sharing!

Marc Kirkland

IBM has the right idea. If you can hack then they give you a very well paid job. the USA should do the same…

Jaimin Mukharjee

Mr Marc, thank u 4 info tht IBM Gives Well paid job if someone hack their systems… i didn’t know at all !! Besides as i hv been commenting on this page that Government in USA / INDIA or Anywhere… They have ILLNESS of IMPRISON their Mind & SOUL in Name of So CALLED ” JUSTICE ” !!
I m not a Computer geek bt i m Tech-savvy person who loves gadgets and read out things on it… i m into Business of Stock market / HR Solutions bt its good to know That Such company IBM is SMART enough to Kick their Rival’s Arse !!


Thanks Jaimin For sharing the news that IBM appreciate those people who seems bad in Govt. eyes.So as a HR you can select well those guys who have skills not by marks.


I’d have hacked into CIA, FBI and NASA if I could have just out of curiosity.


Seems that was all McKinnon was doing. Rather unfair to put him with the obvious criminals, even if his exploits might have caused some financial losses


CyberZeist, the UGNazi hacker should be put up on the list too!


Actually every SW developer is a hacker.
Else how he can fix the issues.

Jaimin Mukharjee

YEP Mr. GPV Prasad, I M Totally AGREE With you tht Every Software Developer is a Hacker, as he / she knows the Negetive – Positive sides of The Software weather its financial – air – defence or legal softwares … WE makes it & We only Breaks it !! This is how People runs the world…
First Give a HOPE & thn Destroy HOPE with A LAW DOPE ~~ !!
Government in USA / INDIA or Anywhere… They have ILLNESS of IMPRISON their Mind & SOUL in Name of So CALLED ” JUSTICE ” !!


Gary McKinnon should not be on this list, he has not been found guilty of anything.

He suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and the constant pressure from the US government has driven him suicidal.

Not only that but he is actually Scottish not just “of Scottish descent”, and the reason he “was able to dodge the American government ” is because American law is not adhered to worldwide….. yet!


The dude that created the conficker worm gave alot of people a good april fools joke.
supposedly he was using the worm to be able to remote in to computers.


Just some thoughts. Okay, maybe a lot. Do take with a grain of salt, as some are certainly perspective and are also possibly different depending on semantics. But I also touch upon some other things that maybe are of interest to some.

(No offence meant, but these are – maybe one to two exceptions – not even that well known cases.) I’ll elaborate as cleary some are. But maybe it’ll be more clear what I’m saying, in a minute. Mitnick was all over the news and that’s not suprising since his arrest in the 90s was not his first arrest or time in jail (see below). McKinnon I would hardly call black hat. That’s not to say that these aren’t cases known, but at the same time, most aren’t as high profile. Maybe I’m further in the past, as when I was into the scenes, it was years ago (over a decade.. hard to believe it) and some of these are fairly recent. There’s also semantics but, I do think this list – well there’s certainly many more known cases, more than likely more known than these (again, less some exceptions). Re semantics, depends on definition of hacker, too: malware writers in the past had some pretty ingenious ideas (say, the idea of piggybacking antiviruses by Dark Avenger).

As an aside – antisocial is probably the wrong word there in your Hollywood remark. See ‘asocial’ and ‘antisocial’ – the interesting thing is that antisocial people are actually very charismatic and sociable. The anti is more that they don’t have any empathy for others and will do whatever harm/hurt that benefits them or gives them joy. The fact they are charismatic/etc though makes it even easier to manipulate others.

As for Mitnick, while he certainly was a criminal (and some might say he still is, see further below), I don’t know if hacker is even the right term for him. He actually, in many cases, did his deeds through social engineering. He’s a pathological liar. Interestingly, while I don’t think what the government did (keeping him away from evidence etc) was fair, he actually kind of has himself to blame, considering he was fleeing and it wasn’t his first time for being wanted for such things (he was arrested in the late 80s, too). Also, its known that his security company (I think its more like a social engineering school/whatever, and I think that is criminal: feeding on the gullible) has been compromised before (in an old ezine.. may have it somewhere on one of my disks here). Regardless, its a certainly well known case, so I can’t say its a bad choice in the end.

Re “Being of Scottish descent and operating out of the United Kingdom, McKinnon was able to dodge the American government for a time.”

As I recall, the extradition treaty is of ‘US can have people in the UK extradited to the US, but not from the US to the UK’ (perhaps this changed though). He didn’t dodge anything – he simply is fighting it. Fair? I don’t think he should be charged, as traditionally governments and media do make things sensational and worse than it really is, but… I hardly call him black hat in any case. Even if he did delete files, the fact they wanted to (at some point, anyway) have him in jail for 70+ years, is ridiculous (think what Mitnick did for how many years/targets, and how many years he had to serve), and way over the top. If they don’t have backups, either, then shame on them (and why they were on the Internet is another story). But until it is PROVEN otherwise, it’s really not fair to say that he did so much damage or this and that.

I haven’t looked yet, but if you do have a ‘white hat’ version, I sure hope Loyd Blakenship is there! Again, maybe you would consider him ‘bad’, but having corresponded with him, I have to say he’s quite a nice fellow. Also his ethics and ideas are very well known (yes, indeed, known as The Mentor).

Re Morris:
It actually was more like the most well known first worm (though it is considered the first, and signifcant especially). Probably the case is, its known because of the way he prevented deletion of the file(s) was very similar to a fork bomb (because of a logical missight on his part), hence taking down the systems. He also masked the source (origin) so that it appeared to come from another location. Can’t recall exactly where, but it was while in universiry and some other university. Further, I could have sworn it was written as an experiment/exercise, say to demonstrate various flaws in (i.e., sendmail, finger and rsh – possibly others I’m forgetting). According to citations, that is the case even. Thinking about it, the fact he obscured the source makes me think the prostitute remark is absolutely incorrect.

Here’s the citation I refer to:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=551386241451639668 (that’s the link to the case).

In hindsight, I’m not even sure he could be considered black hat either (again, interpretations may vary). The fact that rsh and finger have many risks, as well does the old idea of ‘trust relationship’ (ie hosts files in unix)… it’s actually good in some ways. Then again, as they say: all good comes with bad and the reverse is true, too.



The hacker that contaminate the world with his ” I Love You Virus” if im not mistaken it was Onyl de Guzman…

Daniel Escasa

That’s Oniel de Guzman, and he was no hacker — he was just a script kiddie who couldn’t hack his way out of a paper bag. If the Love Letter virus (which I prefer to call it) was a success in the virus sense of the word, it was because of social engineering. Like, who wouldn’t be at least curious about a love letter addressed to you?

As one aside, I half-expected to see de Guzman and his “virus” mentioned here.

As another aside, I did receive the attachment but, being suspicious, I viewed it with a text editor (bypassed Windows scripting or whatever it used to infect the systems) then forwarded it to our sysad.


The one that contaminate the world with his ” I Love You” Virus.If im not mistaken it was Onyl de guzman…


Awesome sharing bro…

Joel Lee



the best hacker is strangeboy thats his nick name he is also on facebook but there are alot on facebook he is a very best hacker he hacked 92 of his school computers and he is only 13





Joel Lee

This is true.


i like Jonathan James
“”he is the best H@kER

Shadi Eideh

Phiber Optik, and Terminus , both members of the Legion of Doom hacker group back in the 1990’s i think.


How can you miss out on Adrian Lamo?? Hes the best of the lot….


They government does not want us to find out what they are really doing. You would be surprised…..

Jaimin Mukharjee

Yes Kirara That Government dont want us ” THE PUBLIC ” to know that wht the Blluddy hell they hv been doing since many years of research / improvements / etc..etc.. & Sometime They are like this is how People runs the world…
First Give a HOPE & thn Destroy HOPE with A LAW DOPE ~~ !!
Government in USA / INDIA or Anywhere… They have ILLNESS of IMPRISON their Mind & SOUL in Name of So CALLED ” JUSTICE ” !!


Oh it’s a modern morality tail. Don’t hack kids…you’ll get twenty years. /yawn



Joel Lee

It’s more of an informative, “Did You Know” sort of post. I found it interesting as I was researching and I’m sure others found it just as interesting. No preaching was done.

Ashutosh Dave

its really a shame about what happened to Jonathan James.. he looks so young and was damn talented & intellignet..yet he is no more.

Joel Lee

It’s a tragedy when talent and intelligence is lost like in the case of Jonathan James. :(


Conspiracy theorist suggest that government only made it look that he committed suicide, the truth is they hired him.

Jon Smith

one of my old teachers said that her friend hacked into the Pentagon, he got some jail time but now he works for the government.

Jon k

Cool I want to work for the government

Christine Satchell

Not to forget the initial hacking forays of Julian Assange whose early attempts to ‘liberate’ classified documents culminated in the mass scale dissemination of sensitive information otherwise know as Wiki Leaks.


You forgot Mark Zuckeberg


FBI Once Called A Hacker To Hack A Don Profile In Reward He Gained 3 Years Of Prison Gud Or Bad?


Julian assange, Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo, George Hotz (1st iPhone jailbreaker), some of the guys over at LulzSec and Anonymous etc…


NEO he discovered the Matrix!


Well he didn’t actually discover it, maybe Morpheus.


hey…anonymous group and that little kid who was arrested …

Shehan Nirmal

Oh, poor Jonathan…!!!


what for steve jobs


Are you retarded?

Arun Singh

nice article but you may include some more hackers.


These are the people world is looking for… actually funny thing is information is dangerous weapon for all…


Hackers of UGNazi, and th3j35t3r

Will Radie

I’ve come across some info about th3j35t3r and he seems very white hat.. but I know very little about this so go easy on me if I am wrong.


How about:
Steve Wozniac – built the first personal computer
Richard Stallman – Created GNU and completely deleted all the passwords at MIT.
Tsutomu Shimomura – Caught Kevin Mitnick, hacked early cell phones to tap anyone he wanted.
Loyd Blankenship – created the Hacker Manifesto
and John Draper – Aka Cap ‘n crunch, figured out how to hack phone PBX’s by blowing a whitsle found in a box of cap ‘n crunch cereal that generated the 2600 tone. ?


Mathew Bevan ( aka Kuji ), described by one USAF bod as being “the single biggest threat to world security since Adolf Hitler” .. Way to go to give someone notoriety !!

Cliff Mccullar

dont think much of this list, then again things like this are always widely open to interpitation/personal opinion. but one that i am out right surprised over not seeing is adrian lamo. Or how about pheonix and electron for WANK(among other things)…anyway onto my real bone to pick with this :P.

I dont know why any form of media doesnt seem to get this, but hacking a computer system(in general) is extremely easy. I dont care if the PC is owned by CERN, NASA, or your grandmother. It can and will be hacked if someone wants in. The age old saw of “locks are to keep honest people honest” applies doubly so to PC’s. Their are just too many holes to keep someone that is determined to get in out. If you do even basic research you will easily find out just how horribly insecure our govermnets PC’s are. Anyway just to prove im not full of it some links for yah :P





getting the picture? thats not even linking too the actual government drafted reports on government pc vulnerability, in which every year almost every agency gets a poor grade, yes nsa/cia/nasa included! we are vulnerable, and will remain so as long as the blind lead the blind.

Joel Lee

You would think that people would learn after all these years. But then again, this sort of technology has only been around for a couple of decades at the most, so security still has a long ways to go.

I wonder why governments don’t use closed networks? It would be impossible to hack into a network that’s disconnected from the Internet unless you had physical access to the actual network, no?


joel lee are u hacker


plze joel lee how to hack?

Raj Sarkar

It was a great read! :)

Aravind Bachu

What about Julian Assange? wikileaks coud should have surely found a place in your list.

death dos

I dont know any hackers name but one things for sure that
the best group of hackers is “ANONYMOUS” period


Hagbard aka Karl Koch and Markus Hess belongs here.



I don’t know his name but he did hacked while there was G.Bush He hacked into his security system in sitting a garden via his lappy. He wasn’t founded then. he came India but then they searched again for that boy & now, that boy works as a official hacker for U.S.

Nick Jones

That is a wonderful piece / collection of great names I wasn’t aware of. I am techy too and love web but fortunately or unfortunately I DO NOT fall into any of the said characters… I am NOT a hacker :) neither good nor bad of course my friends tell me I am good human. Hope fellow members agree :) LoL .. Feel free to network with me via Skype: nickbervivo


Julian Assange should be on this list – not on the “white” hackers list!


Check out for the complete list of black hat hackers here…


Hunter Watts

I’m going to watch Aladin.


One thing about black hat hackers, the are very highly motivated!


what about Ramores and Onel de Guzman from Philippines who created ILoveYou worm….?

Mani Ahmed

a few of them have sad endings and some have good endings but i intend to read about those who were never caught, who have reported handles but yet to be caught and what they have achieved (intended pun) so far ?


As far as i was concerned, The best Black hacker we ever had was “Jonathon James”.


even i want to learn hacking

Rishabh Sharma

Great article… Long live hackers!






I think the greatest hacker is the one that have been never found >.<


yes i know.i create phishing for facebook.))))


My facebook pages are hacked, If anyone how to get back them please tell me I am ready to pay them. please contact me through my e-mail. hateebook at gmail.com.
Thank You



Cosmo or Derek whatever you want to call him. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/cosmo-the-god-who-fell-to-earth/all

It’s actually pretty recent

Altra Attestor

I was actually amazed it’s amazing.


plz given me hacking tip for a network break and send me tips for my mail id

mandeep gautam


mandeep gautam



I wanna be a white hat haker to protect notes from black hat haker. I want to leaen haking. How can i learn that? Plz anyone help me……


Oh come on how about John Draper? How do you leave off Captain Crunch from this list?