Kevin Mitnick

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Kevin Mitnick

Kevin David Mitnick (born August 6, 1963) is one of the most famous criminal hackers to be jailed. He was arrested by the FBI on February 15, 1995. Mitnick was convicted of wire fraud and of breaking into the computer systems of Fujitsu, Motorola, Nokia, and Sun Microsystems. He served five years in prison (four years of it pre-trial), 8 months of that in solitary confinement, and was released on January 21 2000. During his supervised release, which ended in 2003, he was restricted from using any communications technology other than a landline telephone.

Social Engineering

Although often portrayed as a technical expert, most of Mitnick's attacks were based on social engineering rather than technical exploits he discovered.

Mitnick discovered a large number of security vulnerabilities in the OpenVMS operating system by getting access to the voice mail system of security researchers at DEC.


Kevin Mitnick's criminal activities, arrest, and trial were controversial, and have caused some computer industry journalists to raise legal and ethical questions concerning the events surrounding him.

Mitnick continues to claim that his treatment was unfair and has alleged that at one time he was held in solitary confinement for 9 months because the authorities believed he might cause a nuclear attack. He is however by his own admission a liar skilled in social engineering.

The core of the controversy came from two books that presented view that were at odds with one another: John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura's Takedown, and Jonathan Littman's The Fugitive Game. In particular, Littman made allegations of journalistic impropriety against Markoff, of overzealous prosecution of Mitnick by the government, of mainstream media over-hyping of Mitnick's actual crimes, and of the legality of Shimomura's involvement in the matter. Further controversy came over the release of the movie Takedown, with Littman alleging that portions of the film were taken from his book without permission.

The case against Mitnick tested then-nascent laws that had been enacted for dealing with computer crime, and it raised public awareness of security issues involving networked computers. The controversy remains, however, as Mitnick is often used today as an example of the quintessential criminal hacker although his exploits are less notable than his notoriety suggests.

Recent activity

  • Mitnick usually makes semiannual appearances on the popular late-night radio show Coast to Coast AM.
  • Mitnick guest starred in a first season episode of Alias. The casting was an in-joke, since Mitnick played a CIA hacker. Due to the conditions of his parole, however, the computer he used in the scene was a prop.
  • Kevin Mitnick was a keynote speaker at the IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals) Privacy Academy in Las Vegas, NV, October, 2005.
  • He offers security consulting services through his company Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC and has co-authored two books on computer security.


  • Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw-By the Man Who Did It, by Tsutomu Shimomura (ISBN 0786889136)
  • The Fugitive Game: Online with Kevin Mitnick, by Jonathan Littman (ISBN 0316528587)
  • The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security, by Kevin Mitnick (2002)
    • (Hardback ISBN 0471237124)
    • (Paperback ISBN 076454280X)
  • The Art Of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind The Exploits Of Hackers, Intruders, And Deceivers, by Kevin Mitnick (2005) (ISBN 0764569597)

See also

External links

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