Who are the most famous hackers in history?



Since the beginning of the internet, there have been hackers who have used the Net to benefit at the expense of other users.  Some have managed to attack so many people, or companies and institutions so large, that they have become internationally infamous.  These are the great villains of the internet.

At Panda Security, we have spent the last 25 years successfully fighting against these cyber criminals. We work every day to protect all of our users from the threats these hackers create, making your Panda antivirus purchase more than worthwhile 😉

Today we are going to recall some of the biggest hackers, whose cyber-crimes made them famous and led to arrest and jail time. Some of them even switched sides, saying goodbye to the dark side of the Internet.

1. “Cracka”: The mysterious British teenager who hacked into the CIA director’s database

The latest cyber-criminal to draw international press attention is a 16-year-old British boy who managed to hack into the personal mailings of the CIA Director, FBI Director and the Director of National Intelligence.  He was also able to hack into the Director of National Intelligence’s phone bills, revealing the identities of 31,000 US government agents (CIA, Homeland Security, and FBI).

The true identity of this kid has not been disclosed but we know that he calls himself “Cracka” and claims to be a member of the group of hackers, “Crackas with Attitude”, who act in defense of the Palestinian movement. “Cracka” was arrested last month in the southeast of England.


2. “The homeless hacker” who betrayed Bradley Manning

Adrian Lamo is known as “The homeless hacker” because he was always traveling, connecting, and attacking via WiFi at Internet cafes and other public access points. Although he began his hacking career legally; analyzing security threats for large companies like Microsoft, Fortune 500, Bank of America or Yahoo!; he was later arrested for stealing data from more than 2,000 subscribers of The New York Times.

In 2002, he was sentenced to six months of house arrest and two months of probation for the above crime.  He is also remembered for his betrayal of US soldier Bradley Manning; in 2010 he reported Manning to the Federal Government for leaking classified information about the army and the Secretary of State to another famous hacker, WikiLeaks.


Adrian Lamo, Kevin Mitnick, and Kevin Poulsen (2001).


3. “Soupnazi”: 170 million credit cards hacked from Miami Beach

Albert Gonzalez is the hacker hiding behind the alter-ego “Soupnazi” and the person responsible for one of the largest identity thefts in the history of the Internet.  He gained access to accounts and stole more than 170 million credit cards from users worldwide.

This hacker was arrested in 2008 at a Miami Beach hotel and, in 2010, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a New Jersey Federal Court. It is believed that Gonzalez was working with hackers hiding in other countries, making them impossible to catch.




4. The St. Petersburg hacker who stole $10 million from Citibank network

After the end of the Cold War, St. Petersburg became one of the main hot-spots for cyber-crime.  This is where Vladimir Levin had a remarkable career that could be straight out of a James Bond film.

In 1994, after graduating from Saint Petersburg State Institution of Technology, Levin managed to steal $10 million from Citibank clients, all from his apartment in St. Petersburg.  Unfortunately for Levin, Interpol tracked him down and arrested him in London’s Stansted airport. He was extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to serve three years in prison and pay a fine of $240,015 (plus return all of the stolen money).  It is believed that Levin could be part of an organized group (leading it or taking orders) connected to the Russian mafia.


5. The Most Wanted cyber-criminal in the United States

Kevin Mitnick’s case is probably the most controversial in Internet history. In 1983, he managed to hack into the Pentagon network and into the systems of very large corporations (similar to Nokia or Motorola).  He combined social engineering practices by hacking both computers and telephone networks. This made him the most wanted cyber-criminal in the world, in a highly-publicized investigation that ended with his arrest two years later.

After serving five years in prison, Mitnick decided to leave the dark side of the Net. He became a security consultant for several companies and began to hold conferences about cyber security on universal forums. He currently runs his own security consulting company, Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC.


These are our Top 5 hackers. We are very well-informed about the malware these hackers create and we analyze it every day so that you can have the best virus protection. Who do you think is the worst hacker?


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