Legend of Mitnick

This month the legendary Kevin Mitnick has signed a deal to author a book about his hacking days. It is being marketed as a tell all book. It focuses on social engineering that Mitnick had used in the past to compromise systems. The book will be published by Little, Brown, and Company. I thought this would be a good opportunity to write a little about this hacker from the 90’s.

Mitnick is widely known for being prosecuted for hacking computers back in the 1990’s. He was arrested in 1995 after a two year search for him had been conducted. Mitnick spend over 4 years in jail prior to be tried in court. By 1999 he signed a plea bargain and was sentenced to 5 years in jail. Luckily they counted the 4.5 years he spent in jail prior to being sentenced. Mitnick claims he was denied bail, and that he was held in solitude for 8 months.

There are a lot of rumors surrounding the facts of Mitnick’s hacking and subsequent arrest. For example, it is rumored that he hacked NORAD, giving rise to the movie War Games. Many sites also state that Mitnick was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted listed before he was apprehended.

Mitnick has become a cult hero for hackers. He has reportedly gone by the handle “The Condor”. He now calls himself a retired hacker, and does work under his company Mitnick Security Consulting. He accuses the government of making an example of him. In the past he had amassed a great deal of supporters. Mitnick never denied some of the facts surrounding his hacking. But he, along with many others, believes his punishment was too hard and did not fit the crime he was accused of.

Along with security consulting, Mitnick frequently does public speaking and interviews. I was especially interested in his advice on how to avoid being hacked. Who better than a hacker to get protection advice from? He advises users to conduct frequent backups. He also advocates use of a firewall. Mitnick strongly recommends applying all security patches to your operating system and software. Finally, Mitnick recommends a host of software such as AVG or Norton, PGP, and SpyCop. Time to download some of these goodies.