1. Kevin Mitnick
Unlike many other hackers, Kevin Mitnick didn't use any computer programs or savvy tech-skills to gain access to networks. Rather, he essentially phished passwords, security codes, and the like by essentially hustling actual people. Still, he was convicted and spent five years in prison for unauthorized access to various computer networks in the late '90s. He was released in 2003 and now runs a computer security consulting firm called, naturally, Mitnick Consulting.
2. John Draper (AKA Captain Crunch, Crunch, or Cruncherman)
John Draper is often seen as a legend from the early days of hacking. His expertise was phreaking -- he used a toy whistle (and later, other custom-built devices) to emulate signal tones that effectively hacked AT&T's phone system into rerouting phone calls around the world for no charge.The original whistle was found inside a box of Cap'n Crunch cereal, hence the name. In 1971, several months after the publication of an article in Esquire Magazine on phone phreaking, Draper was arrested for wire fraud. Steve Wozniak, of Apple fame, noticed the article and hired Draper at Apple Computer. Draper went on to write the first word processing application for the Apple II computer. Draper is still a software developer today and he hosts an Internet TV show, Crunch TV.
3. Jonathan James (c0mrade)
In 1999, at the age of 15, Jonathan James gained notoriety for breaking into the computer systems of the Department of Defense. Once in the system, he installed a sniffer application that allowed him to monitor employee usernames and passwords. He later admitted to the deed, but was able to plead out of the resulting wiretapping charges. A previous computer invasion at NASA was later traced back to James, and he was arrested and sentenced to six months of house arrest in 2000. James' arrest marked the first time a juvenile was sentenced for cybercrime in the U.S.
4. Eric Corley (AKA Emmanuel Goldstein)
In 1984, Eric Corley founded '2600 Magazine,' one of the world's most popular hacker publications. He was named a defendant in the DeCSS (a computer program that could decrypt encrypted DVDs) case in 1999 after the 2600 Web site (2600.com) posted links to the software. The movie industry obviously wasn't pleased, and Corley ultimately lost in court. Corley continues publishing '2600' today and hosts several radio shows.
New York Times
5. Adrian Lamo
Dubbed "the Homeless Hacker," Adrian Lamo backpacked across the country for three years around the turn of the millennium, hitting Wi-Fi hotspots and public library computers, which he used to gain access to the computer networks to some of the world's most well-known companies (Yahoo!, Microsoft, Bank of America, and McDonald's, to name a few). He's probably best known for his 2002 infiltration of the New York Times' internal network -- where altered confidential databases and found the home phone numbers of contributors like Warren Beatty and Rush Limbaugh. In 2003, he was arrested by U.S. marshalls, and pleaded guilty to one count of computer crimes against Microsoft, the New York Times, and Lexis-Nexis. In the end, he was sentenced to six months house arrest for the stunt. Lamo has since become a successful journalist.
6. Vasily Gorshkov and Alexey Ivanov
In a sting operation in 2000, the FBI, operating under the guise of Invita Security (a dummy computer security company) contacted Vasily Gorshkov and Alexey Ivanov, two known Russian hackers. They were lured to the U.S. for an employment 'interview' with Invita, and were arrested and imprisoned on multiple counts of conspiracy, computer crime, and fraud, as they had already stolen over 50,000 credit card numbers from Internet service providers (ISPs) and online banks throughout the late '90s.
7. Kevin Poulsen
Kevin Poulsen's most famous hack involves taking over all of Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM's telephone lines in order to ensure his place as the 102nd caller. The prize? A cool new Porsche 944 S2. In 1991, the feds tracked Poulson down for the Porsche stunt and other cybercrimes, and he was sentenced to four years in prison, a three-year ban on computing after release, and a $58,000 fine. Following hid release from prison, Poulsen began a successful career as a journalist and now works at Wired Magazine.