In today’s day and age the internet can become a battleground for cyber wars. Hackers have been known to take down crucial websites, steal credit card information, take down gaming servers, and even use their expertise to assist government agencies. In the cyber world, some of these hackers have gained quite a bit of fame for their computer expertise, becoming some of the most notorious hackers in internet history.
Starting out on an image board called 4chan, the hacktivist group Anonymous has really made a name for itself in the last decade. The group is described as an “internet gathering” with “a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives." In 2008, Anonymous became main stream for their protests, pranks, and hacks regarding the Church of Scientology. In 2015, Anonymous became known internationally for declaring “cyber war” on ISIS following the Paris attacks in France on November 13th, 2015. While most hackers on our list do it out of personal gain or pleasure, Anonymous aims to be the "Robin Hood's" of the internet. With many DDoS attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites, Anonymous generally tries to uncover government conspiracies and cover-ups. In 2012, TIME Magazine called Anonymous one of the "100 Most Influential People in the world." It's not every day that a hacking group gets such a prestigious title.
Răzvan Manole Cernăianu, nicknamed “TinKode”, is a Romanian computer security consultant and hacker. TinKode found vulnerabilities in organizations including MySQL, US Army, YouTube, Google, and other websites. After discovering these loopholes in the website’s code, he would gain unauthorized access to these computer systems and post proof of his exploits online. After blocking the information systems of the US Army, Pentagon and NASA, TinKode landed himself in police custody in January of 2012. He was officially released a few months later in April and is now Co-Founder & COO of CyberSmartDefence.com.
In 2008, a 58-year-old man known as “ASTRA” was arrested in Greece for hacking into the computer systems of France’s Dassault Group for more than five years. He stole sensitive weapons technology data and sold it to 250 people in a variety of countries such as Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa and several other unidentified countries. Even though authorities did not release the identity of the man, Greek officials did say Dassault suffered more than $360 million in damages as a result of his theft.
Russian New York University student, Kristina Svechinskay, also known as the "world's sexiest computer hacker", was accused of a plot to defraud several British and U.S. banks. Svechinskaya used Zues Trojan horse to attack thousands of bank accounts. Between her and 9 other accomplices, they skimmed $3 million in total. Svechinskaya’s sentence was expected June 2011, but after her arrest she signed a personal recognizance bond and was released under $25,000 bail. The Russian film Botnet, whose production is slated for 2016, is partially based on Svechinskaya’s story.
An American computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick has been known to be one of the most notorious hackers of the 20th century. After being involved in several computer and communications-related crimes, Mitnick became one of the most wanted computer criminals in the United States. He fled the country and was a fugitive for two and a half years. After getting caught, Mitnick spent five years in prison. After his release, Mitnick started a firm called Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC that helps test a company’s security loopholes, strengths, and weaknesses.
In June, 2004, a man named Jeanson Ancheta from California started to work with botnets, renting them after discovering a common computer worm that could spread his net of infected computers. Botnets are commonly used on the internet to carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that consist of multiple systems flooding a web server, essentially bringing it down due to the traffic. Jeanson controlled one of the largest number of hijacked computers, but eventually had to plead guilty on four felony charges and spend 5 years in prison after his arrest.
Convicted for having hacked a total of 97 US-based military and NASA systems, Gary McKinnon became a big name in 2002. McKinnon had deleted critical files from the operating systems for the United States Army’s Military District of Washington which had shut down their 2,000 computers for twenty-four hours. A notice was posted onto the website: “Your security is crap.” Before that, after the September 11 attack in 2001, Gary McKinnon deleted weapon logs at the Earie Naval Weapons Station, making their computers inoperable and stopping munition supply deliveries for the US Navy’s Atlantic Fleet. In response to his crimes, McKinnon claims he was simply looking for evidence of a UFO cover-up and free energy suppression.
Syrian Electronic Army
President Bashar al-Assad from Syria formed what is called the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) in 2011. With the SEA, Syria was the first Arab country to have a public Internet Army hosted on its national networks. The internet army uses spamming, website defacement, malware, phishing, and even denial of service attacks. Western news organizations, human rights groups, and other websites that are neutral to the Syrian conflict have been affected by the groups antics. The SEA has also hacked government websites in the Middle East and Europe, as well as US defense contractors.
The first juvenile to ever be incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States was sixteen years old when he was sentenced in Florida in September of 2000. In between getting his driver’s license and finding a date for homecoming, young Jonathan had managed to hack into a division of the United States Department of Defense that analyzed potential threats to the United States of America, both from home and abroad. He had obtained the International Space Station’s source code, controlling the temperature and humidity within the station causing NASA to shut down their computers for three weeks. Sadly, Jonathan took his life after being investigated for another hacking crime that he claimed to not be affiliated with.
The Lizard Squad is a black hat hacking group that has mainly been known for their distributed denial-of-service attacks towards gaming platforms and servers. Even though attacks like this seem to be the main priority of most black hat hackers, Lizard Squad became well known for bringing down the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live servers on December 25th, 2014. Surely you could only imagine the anguish of gamers who weren't able to utilize all functions of their brand new PS4 or Xbox Ones. In 2015, one member, 17-year-old Julius Kivimaki, was given a two-years suspended sentence for racking up over 50,000 charges of computer-related crimes.