Monday, June 22, 2009

Face Off With Kevin Mitnick

There is no question who the most famous hacker is. One of the first computer hackers prosecuted, Kevin Mitnick was labeled a "computer terrorist" after leading the FBI on a three-year manhunt for breaking into computer networks and stealing software at Sun, Novell, and Motorola.

Known more for social engineering his way into networks than actually hacking them, Mitnick frustrated law enforcement not only by staying one step ahead of them but also with pranks like leaving doughnuts for them to find when they raided his empty home.

Finally arrested in 1995, Mitnick pleaded guilty to wire and computer fraud charges and was released from prison in 2002. His notoriety has helped him get lucrative speaking engagements and launch a security consultancy, where he gets paid for doing some of the very actions that landed him in jail.

In the first in a three-part Q&A series with hackers, CNET News talked to Mitnick, now 45, about what got him interested in computers in the first place, the differences between hacking today and three decades ago, and whether it's wise to hire a former black hat hacker to do security work.


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