Last month the Information Technology (IT) world mourned the passing of one of the world’s most notorious computer hackers who turned respected security consultant, author, and public speaker.
Kevin David Mitnick’s life story portrayed in the news media, documentaries, books, and movies mirrors the evolution of society’s grasp of the nuances of computer hacking.
A product of a broken home in a bleak Los Angeles suburb, Kevin was an overweight and troubled child, who later in life was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. His first serious brush with the law was at age 17 when he brazenly walked into a Pacific Bell Telephone Company office and took computer manuals and codes to digital door locks. A federal judge sentenced him to a year in a rehabilitation center.
For the next 14 years, Kevin was in and out of trouble with the law, including three years on the run from the FBI which ended in his highly-publicized 1995 arrest. After that arrest, he was kept in strict solitary confinement for months and not even allowed phone calls. The authorities were so overcome with FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) they convinced judges that if Kevin was even allowed in the same room with a phone that he could start World War III merely by whistling the tones to launch a nuclear first strike.