June 25, 2011

A look at infamous hackers

The breach of Arizona DPS' computer system hardly ranks among the most infamous hacking incidents. Here are some of the more notable ones in hacking's history:

(This feature includes Information from the Washington Examiner, Orlando Sentinel, the Telegraph, CNET, NPR, PBS, and PC Magazine.)

1996: Disgruntled employee detonates

Timothy Lloyd worked for Omega Engineering Corporation for 11 years before being fired because of conflict with co-workers. Three weeks later a code "bomb" detonated when an Omega employee logged on to a computer terminal. The bomb deleted Omega's design and production programs, losing almost $10 million in sales for the company. Lloyd was convicted in 2000 of writing the bomb, which was six lines of code.

1994: Cashing in on Citibank

Vladimir Levin was a Russian hacker who, working with accomplices, hit an estimated $10 million payday at Citibank's expense. Levin confessed to using Citibank customers' passwords and codes to transfer funds. He apparently gleaned the information from customers' phone calls. Citibank's recovery effort fell just $400,000 shy of the stolen amount. Levin pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in the U.S. He was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $240,000 to Citibank.

Early 1990s: Hacker eludes FBI for 3 years

Kevin Mitnick gained notoriety for accessing the computer systems of companies such as Motorola and Novell. He was noted for "social engineering" his way into networks rather than hacking them. He was arrested in 1995 after he hacked into computer files belonging to a researcher at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He'd eluded the FBI for three years.

1990: Teen takes Kiss FM for a ride

Kevin Poulsen was a teenager when he won a Porsche 944 from the Kiss FM radio station in Los Angeles. But his "Win a Porsche by Friday" luck was of his own design. Poulsen had hacked into the station's phone lines to ensure he was the 102nd caller -- the winning number. Subsequent hacking coups saw Poulsen face FBI charges, including fraud. He served more than four years in prison and now works as a journalist for Wired.com.

1986: Captain Midnight strikes

A mysterious prankster calling himself ''Captain Midnight'' interrupted a Home Box Office TV broadcast of "The Falcon and the Snowman" and imposed his own message: "GOODEVENING HBO FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT, $12.95/MONTH ? NO WAY ! [SHOWTIME/MOVIE CHANNEL BEWARE!]."

John MacDougall's message was in protest of cable television companies' newly adopted practice of scrambling their signals. Prior to signal scrambling, users of home satellite dishes could receive cable content without paying. MacDougall said the name Captain Midnight was inspired by a movie he'd seen. Afterward he paid a $5,000 fine and served one year of probation.

by Kiali Wong The Arizona Republic Jun. 24, 2011 04:30 PM

A look at infamous hackers

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