Hacker and the culture widely associated with the profession (hacker is perhaps not a profession by conventional definition, but let’s refer to it as such for the sake of practicality), has long been a source of fascination that drives the pop culture. Hollywood has continuously put out movies and TV shows centering on hackers and their life—albeit with less-than-enough understanding of what hacker and hacking really means.
The Matrix trilogy, Eagle Eye, Hackers, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol are only to mention a few of movies that speak of hacker culture. Mr. Robot, the critically acclaimed TV show, is another outing made possible thanks to the overall fascination over hacker culture. And frankly, it all stems from the real-life hackers that are deemed troublesome by many yet provide continuous stream of inspiration for works of fiction, with Anonymous being the prime example for what hacker culture is really about. Recently, HBO has been the next in line of victims of hacking scandals: the hackers leaked several unreleased episodes, contact details, and emails to public.
When talking about hackers, there are three groups of such individuals: white-hat hackers are those who are working toward improved computer security, gray-hat is applicable to anyone who does their things for the sake of the fun only, and black-hat hackers are the most dangerous of them all. The black-hat group houses hackers whose primary goal includes accessing confidential documents and/or leaking those documents as well as personal details to public.
Julian Assange is the most world-renowned black-hat hacker of today’s era. His most prominent work is probably the WikiLeaks but he in fact has begun hacking since he was still 16. He has hacked into the Pentagon, Stanford University, and Nasa and the data he gathered can be viewed on the WikiLeaks, a platform he created to publish hacked classified documents and leaks anonymously. Today, he confines himself in London-based Ecuadorian Embassy to avoid extradition back to the States.
Kevin Mitnick is another black-hat hacker known internationally as the person the US government wants the most for computer criminal. After being arrested for hacking into the network of Digital Equipment Corporation, Mitnick served his time in jail for a year. Another arrest was made following his hacking spree into the national defense warning system and stealing corporate secrets. He served his time for five years, after which he built Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC, a computer security company.
Albert Gonzalez was notable for being the leader of ShadowCrew, a group of hacker. He and his groups committed several cybercrimes including creating fraudulent birth certificates, health insurance cards, and passports as well as stealing and selling credit card numbers. From 2005 to 2007, he gathered a total of 170 million credit cards until his arrest in 2010. Sentenced for 20 years of jail time, Gonzalez is set to be free in 2025.
Kevin Poulsen hacked the phone lines of a radio station to make himself as a winner of a brand new Porsche. He hacked into federal systems and gained access to wiretap information, a crime for which he was arrested and sentenced for 51 months, plus a fine of %56,000. He was released in 1995 and has since worked as a journalist. Today, he is the senior editor of Wired.
Robert Tappan Morris
Robert Tappan Morris is the last notable black-hat hacker on this list, known as the individual responsible for creating the first computer worm. The Morris Worm was created in his attempt to measure the size of the internet. His action, however, caused more than 6,000 computers to stop working at all. He was arrested in 1989 and today is known as Y Combinator’s founder and a professor at the MIT.