GARY MCKINNON

gary mckinnonGary McKinnon: In 2002, an exceptionally odd message appeared on a US Army computer screen: “Your security system is crap,” it read. “I am Solo. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels.” It was later identified as the work of Scottish systems administrator, Gary McKinnon.

McKinnon suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which is the least severe form of autism. The symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome certainly match Gary’s actions: that is, highly intelligent with an exceptional understanding of complex systems. Though sufferers often have difficulty reading social cues and acknowledging the impact of their often-obsessive behavior, they tend to be geniuses in one particular subject. For Gary, it was computers.

Gary has been accused of executing the largest ever hack of United States government computer networks — including Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA systems. The court had recommended that McKinnon be apprehended to the United States to face charges of illegally accessing 97 computers, causing a total of $700,000 in damage. Even more interesting are McKinnon’s motives for the large scale hackings, which he claims were in search of information on UFOs. He believed the US government was hiding such information in its military computers.

KEVIN POULSEN

kevin-poulsenKevin Poulsen: The notorious ’80s black hat hacker, Kevin Poulsen, gained recognition for his hacking of the telephone lines for LA radio station KIIS-FM, securing himself a place as the 102nd caller and winning a brand new Porsche 944, among other prizes. Law enforcement dubbed Poulsen the “Hannibal Lecter of computer crime.” Poulsen went underground as a fugitive when the FBI began its search for him, but in 1991, he was finally captured.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail, wire and computer fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and for obtaining information on covert businesses run by the FBI. Kevin Poulsen was sentenced to 51 months in prison (4 years and 3 months), which was the longest sentence ever given for hacking at the time. However, since serving time, Poulsen has worked as a journalist and is now a senior editor for Wired News. Poulsen’s most note-worthy article details his work on identifying 744 sex offenders with MySpace profiles.

KEVIN DAVID METNIK

Kevin Metnick

Kevin David Metnick:(born on August 6, 1963) is an American computer security consultant, author, and hacker. In the late 20th century, he was convicted of various computer- and communications-related crimes. At the time of his arrest, he was the most-wanted computer criminal in the United States. Mitnick gained unauthorized access to his first computer network in 1979, at 16, when a friend gave him the phone number for the Ark, the computer system Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) used for developing their RSTS/E operating system software. He broke into DEC’s computer network and copied their software, a crime he was charged with and convicted of in 1988.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mitnick gained unauthorized access to dozens of computer networks while he was a fugitive. He used cloned cellular phones to hide his location and, among other things, copied valuable proprietary software from some of the country’s largest cellular telephone and computer companies. Mitnick also intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks, and broke into and read private e-mail.

ADRIAN LAMO

220px-Adrian_Lamo-1Adrian Lamo: (born February 20, 1981) is a Colombian-American threat analyst and “grey hat” hacker. He first gained media attention for breaking into several high-profile computer networks, including those of The New York Times, Yahoo!, and Microsoft, culminating in his 2003 arrest. In 2010, Lamo reported U.S. serviceman Bradley Manning to federal authorities, claiming that Manning had leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks; as a result Manning was arrested and incarcerated in the U.S. military justice system.

Background: Lamo was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Mario Lamo-Jiménez and Mary Lamo-Atwood in 1981. He spent his early childhood in Arlington, Virginia, until moving to Bogotá, Colombia around the age of 10. When his family moved back to the United States two years later, they settled in San Francisco, where Lamo lived until he tested out of high school a year early. Popularly called the “homeless hacker” for his transient lifestyle, Lamo spent most of his travels couch-surfing, squatting in abandoned buildings and traveling to Internet cafes, libraries and universities to investigate networks, and sometimes exploiting security holes.[3] Despite performing authorized and unauthorized vulnerability assessments for several large, high-profile entities, Lamo refused to accept payment for his services.

In the mid-1990s, Lamo became a volunteer for the gay and lesbian media firm PlanetOut.com. In 1998, Lamo was appointed to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth Task Force by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. During this period, in 2001, he overdosed on prescription amphetamines.

In a 2004 interview with Wired, an ex-girlfriend of Lamo’s described him as “very controlling,” stating, “He carried a stun gun, which he used on me.” According to the same article, a court issued a restraining order against Lamo. Lamo disputed the accuracy of the article and wrote, “I have never been subject to a restraining order in my life”.

Lamo claimed in a Wired article that in May 2010, after reporting his backpack stolen, an investigating officer noted unusual behavior and detained him. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome after having been placed on a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold, which was extended to a total of nine days.The police report contradicts Lamo’s version of events and states that Lamo was hospitalised as a result of his father calling Sacramento County Sheriff’s department three times with concerns that he was over-medicating on his prescription drugs. The Wired article received a subsequent clarification.

As of March 2011, he is in hiding, stating that his “life was under threat” after turning in Bradley Manning.

GEORGE HOTZ

george-hotzGeorge Hotz: The name of the acclaimed jailbreak artist, George Hotz, will forever be associated with the April 2011 PlayStation breach. Being one of the first hackers ever to jailbreak the Sony PlayStation 3, Hotz found himself in the midst of a very relentless, public and messy court battle with Sony – perhaps worsened by Hotz’s public release of his jail breaking methods. In a stated retaliation to Sony’s gap of the unstated rules of jail breaking – never prosecute – the hacker group Anonymous attacked Sony in what would be the dubbed as the most costly security break of all time to date.

Hackers broke into the PlayStation Network and stole personal information of some 77 million users. However, Hotz denied any responsibility for the attack, and added “Running homebrew and exploring security on your devices is cool; hacking into someone else’s server and stealing databases of user info. is not cool.”

JONATHAN JAMES

Jonathan JamesJonathan James: was a 16-year-old black hat hacker, became the first juvenile imprisoned for cybercrime in the United States. James gained his notoriety by implementing a series of successful intrusions into various systems. At an amazingly young age of 15, James specialized in hacking high-profile government systems such as NASA and the Department of Defense. He was reported to have stolen software worth over $1.7 million. He also hacked into the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and intercepted over 3,000 highly secretive messages passing to and from the DTRA employees, while collecting many usernames and passwords.

On May 18, 2008, at the age of 25, James committed suicide using a gun. The words in his suicide note provide some insight into this obviously brilliant but troubled youth who thought he would be a scapegoat and blamed for cyber crimes he did not commit: “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”

ANNOYMOUS

500px-Anonymous_emblem.svgAnnoymous: (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated hacktivist group. It (is estimated to have) originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known. It strongly opposes Internet censorship and surveillance, and has hacked various government websites. It has also targeted major security corporations. It also opposes Scientology, government corruption and homophobia. Its members can be distinguished in public by the wearing of stylised Guy Fawkes masks.

In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism. They undertook protests and other actions in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Actions credited to “Anonymous” were undertaken by unidentified individuals who applied the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution. Some analysts praised Anonymous as the freedom fighters of the Internet, and a digital Robin Hood, although others have condemned them as “anarchic cyber-guerrillas”.[13]

Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable imageboards such as 4chan, their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica, and a number of forums. After a series of controversial, widely publicized protests, distributed denial of service (DDoS) and website defacement attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks. In 2012, Time named Anonymous as one of the most influential groups in the world