Once most-wanted cybercriminal, world’s top hacker Kevin Mitnick passes away

A once most-wanted cybercriminal and a reformed hacker, Kevin Mitnick can be seen using his computer. — Twitter/@kevinmitnick

A once most-wanted cybercriminal and a reformed hacker, Kevin Mitnick, passed away at 59. He was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Mitnick was incarcerated for five years after being charged with computer and wire fraud before a two-year federal manhunt in 1995.

But after his release in 2000, he reinvented himself, becoming a renowned “white hat” hacker, cybersecurity consultant and author.

“Kevin was an original; much of his life reads like a fiction story,” his obituary reads.

“He grew up brilliant and restless in the San Fernando Valley in California, an only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude toward authority, and a love for magic.”

The 59-year-old former hacker came into the limelight after he penetrated government and big corporations’ websites and accessed a large amount of information in the 1990s.

He carried out the theft of thousands of credit card numbers and data files across the country, damaging corporate, government and university computer systems.

Investigators dubbed him the “most wanted” computer hacker in the world.

In his 2011 memoir, Ghost in the Wires, Mitnick denied that he stole or exploited information for financial gain.

“Anyone who loves to play chess knows that it’s enough to defeat your opponent. You don’t have to loot his kingdom or seize his assets to make it worthwhile,” he wrote.

After his arrest, the hacking community started a movement ‘Free Kevin’, and conducted rallies outside the prison where he was detained.

After he was released, he became a “white hat” hacker — using skills to identify vulnerabilities in the systems — writer and public speaker.

He founded Mitnick Security Consulting in 2003 where he provided services to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies on cybersecurity.

“Kevin will always remain ‘the world’s most famous hacker’ and was renowned for his intelligence, humour and extraordinary skill with technology, surpassed only by his talent as the original ‘social engineer,'” the company said in a statement Thursday.

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