Hackers have never slackened their pace. Some of them went so far as to infiltrate military computer systems. The following stories will open your eyes to the world of notorious or legendary hackers, who will definitely wow you with various tricks beyond imagination.

A hacker is defined as a skilled computer expert, especially a programmer, who is obsessed with computer technologies. In the early history of computers, this was a commendatory term in the computer community of USA. However, over time, the term has gradually taken the meaning of a software cracker in media coverage.


Robert Tappan Morris (American)

Robert Tappan Morris, with RTM as his alias, was a well-known hacker at the end of the 20th century. He created one of the first computer worms at Cornell University, which infected about 6000 major UNIX machines nationwide, slowing down their speed and rendering them unavailable, hence a financial loss of millions of dollars. According to public records, he was the first person to be indicted under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Morris said later that the “worm” was not written to cause damage, but to gauge the size of the Internet.

What he did crippled more than 6000 computers, with the cost of damage at $100,000–10,000,000. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, 400 hours of community service, and a fine of $10,500. After serving his time, he did not turn into a professional hacker. Instead, he embarked on the road to entrepreneurship, which turned out to be a success. He co-founded Viaweb, a company that made software for building online stores, in 1995 and then Y Combinator, a startup incubator, in 2005. Now he is a tenured professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Gary McKinnon (British)

Gary McKinnon was known to perpetrate the “biggest military computer hack of all time” in the USA. Over a 13-month period from February 2001 to March 2002, he hacked into 97 computers, including computer systems used by the Pentagon, NASA, Johnson Space Center, and the US Army, Navy, and Air Force, posing a severe threat to the US Government. He claimed that his motivation was to search for top secret information about extraterrestrial life and, specifically, UFOs. However, the US authorities stated that he deleted some critical files, rendering more than 300 computers inoperable and causing a loss of over $700,000. Worse still, he leveraged hacking techniques to paralyze the most critical national defense system of the USA in the febrile atmosphere after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

In March 2002, McKinnon was arrested by the UK police, thus ending his hacking career. He was then bailed out for £5000 on condition that he made no attempt to apply for international travel documents or to use a computer connected to the Internet.


Jonathan James

Jonathan James, one of the five best-known hackers in history with c0mrade as his nickname, led a tragic life. At the age of 16, he hacked into NASA computers, downloading NASA system’s software code valued at $1.7 million and trying to figure out how the system worked. In the wake of his breach, NASA had to shut down the system for three weeks and spent $41,000 on the remediation. This event thus became one of the most severe computer-related crimes at that time. James was then sentenced to seven months’ house arrest and probation for this offense.

Melissa was a computer virus put into the wild by David L. Smith in 1999. From a stolen AOL account, he posted a Word document infected with the Melissa virus to an alt.sex Usenet newsgroup. The virus spread fast via emails, overloading email servers and forcing companies, such as Microsoft, Intel, Lockheed Martin, and Lucent Technologies, to shut down their email gateways. This event caused $80 million worth of damage. James successfully tracked down him and helped FBI bring him to justice, thus coming to fame. In 2007, a slew of large companies were constantly targeted by malicious attackers. Even if James was not involved in any of these activities, he was still under suspicion and investigated. In 2008, James committed suicide because of depression, thus ending his painful life.


To be continued.


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