10 Most Notorious Hackers of All Time

There are many notable hackers around the world. In this article, We’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-jamesJonathon James Known as “comrade” by many online, 15-year-old Jonathan James was the first juvenile convicted and jailed in the United States for hacking. James hacked into companies like Bell South, as well as the Miami-Dade school system and the Department of Defense in 1999. He gained access to information like the source code responsible for operating the International Space Station.

Once NASA detected the breach, the space agency shut down their computers for three weeks, apparently losing an estimated $41,000. Arrested on January 26, 2000, James plea-bargained and was sentenced to house arrest and probation. He later served six months in an Alabama prison after failing a drug test and thus violating his probation. Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Office Max and other companies were victims of a 2007 massive hack. James was investigated by law enforcement for the crimes despite his denying any involvement.

James was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on May 18, 2008. In his suicide note he wrote he was troubled by the justice system and believed he would be prosecuted for newer crimes with which he had nothing to do.

Gary McKinnon

hacker-gary-mckinnonfamous hackersGary 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.

Kevin Mitnick

hacker-kevin-mitnickfamous hackersKevin 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.

Kevin Poulsen

hacker-kevin-poulsenfamous hackers in historyKevin 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.

Albert Gonzalez

hacker-albert-gonzalezfamous hackers in historyAlbert 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).

Stephen Wozniak

stephen-wozniakFamous for being the co-founder of Apple, Stephen “Woz” Wozniak began his ‘white-hat’ hacking career with ‘phone phreaking’ – slang for bypassing the phone system. While studying at the University of California he made devices for his friends called ‘blue boxes’ that allowed them to make free long distance phone calls. Wozniak allegedly used one such device to call the Pope. He later dropped out of university after he began work on an idea for a computer. He formed Apple Computer with his friend Steve Jobs and the rest, as they say, is history.

Adrian Lamo

C_Manning_FinishThe “homeless hacker”, Adriam Lamo, is also one of the world’s most hated hackers after turning in Chelsea Manning for leaking classified US Army documents.

Before that, he hacked the computer of The New York Times in 2002 gaining access to private databases including information of all 3,000 authors of op-eds at the paper. Sentenced two years probation and fined nearly $65,000, Lamo went on to bigger fame later in life.

Lamo turned in Chelsea Manning for being a source to WikiLeaks. He said Manning’s long sentence would be a “lasting regret.”

David L. Smith

dlsmithDavid Smith authored the Melissa worm virus; that is, the first successful email-aware virus distributed in the Usenet discussion group alt. sex. Arrested and sentenced for causing more than $80 million in damage, David Smith remains one of the world’s original notorious hackers after serving 20 months in jail.

There are other notable hackers, such as Max Ray “Iceman” Butler (ran up over $86 million in fraudulent charges), Kevin Poulson (military and phone company hacks), Jeremy Hammond (Anonymous) and Albert Gonzalez ( hack of TJ Maxx and other retailers). Of course, there are entire hacker groups, such as Anonymous, as well.

John McAfee

JohnMcAfee-300x203When John McAfee lived in Belize, he planned to study plants. Probably some psycho-active plants. He had a lab for this. Authorities seized his property for creating drugs in this lab, claims McAfee, after an official came seeking political bribes from the gringo. To get back at the Belize government and prove their corruption, he hacked every major computer from Belize government bureaucracies. He found evidence implicating officials in corruption, laundering, drug running and murder. He had to organize his own escape out of Belize to avoid arrest. He did this by faking a heart attack.

Today McAfee lays low, believing he is routinely being tracked by law enforcement. He recently posted on social media he got into a shootout with police after having been arrested.

Sven Jaschan

sven_jaschanJaschan was found guilty of writing the Netsky and Sasser worms in 2004 while he was still a teenager. The viruses were found to be responsible for 70 per cent of all the malware seen spreading over the internet at the time. Jaschan received a suspended sentence and three years probation for his crimes. He was also hired by a security company.




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  • Last Update 28 June 2016