Legendary Computer Hacker Kevin Mitnick Passes Away at 59, Leaving an Enduring Legacy in Cybersecurity

Explore the life and legacy of legendary cybersecurity hacker Kevin Mitnick. Discover his remarkable journey and how he transformed into a white-hat hacker, leaving a mark on the cybersecurity industry.

Jul 21, 2023 - 17:53
Jul 21, 2023 - 17:53
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Legendary Computer Hacker Kevin Mitnick Passes Away at 59, Leaving an Enduring Legacy in Cybersecurity
Legendary Computer Hacker Kevin Mitnick Passes Away at 59, Leaving an Enduring Legacy in Cybersecurity

Kevin Mitnick, a renowned figure in the history of cybersecurity and hacking, passed away at the age of 59 after bravely battling pancreatic cancer for over a year. His family confirmed the news in an obituary published recently.

Mitnick gained fame for his legendary hacking exploits, inspiring multiple films based on his life. One such movie, "WarGames," featuring Matthew Broderick, was partially inspired by the allegations that Mitnick hacked into the computer systems of North American Aerospace Defense Command during his teenage years. Mitnick always denied any involvement in the incident.

However, in 1988, his insatiable curiosity got the better of him when he was arrested for stealing $1 million worth of proprietary software from Digital Equipment Corporation. Mitnick was sentenced to a year in prison and three years of probation. Subsequently, he faced a new arrest warrant in 1995 for violating probation terms, prompting him to go on the run and break into multiple corporate, cell phone, and educational institution computer systems, as stated in the federal indictment.

Throughout the ordeal, Mitnick and his supporters maintained that he posed no harm, asserting that his actions were driven by intellectual curiosity rather than any malicious intent or financial gain.

In 1999, Mitnick reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, pleading guilty to seven criminal counts, including wire fraud and computer damage. The deal led to a 46-month prison sentence and a ban on engaging in any computer-related activities during probation. He was ultimately released in 2000 after receiving credit for time served.

In 2011, Mitnick published his memoir, "Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker," shedding light on his hacking journey.

Following his time in prison, Mitnick transformed into a white-hat hacker, utilizing his expertise to legally assist businesses in protecting their systems from potential threats. For the last decade, he served as the chief hacking officer and partial owner of KnowBe4, a tech security firm founded by his close friend and business partner, Stu Sjouwerman.

In a 2005 interview, Mitnick expressed his gratitude for a second chance and the opportunity to utilize his skills to benefit the community. His contributions to the cybersecurity industry earned him the respect and admiration of colleagues and peers.

Stu Sjouwerman of KnowBe4 paid tribute to Mitnick, remembering him as a dear friend and a luminary in the cybersecurity field. Mitnick's memorial is scheduled for August 1 in Las Vegas. He is survived by his wife Kimberley, who is currently expecting their first child, as confirmed by the family.

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