The Most Famous Instances Of Hacking In History

This is a guest post by Sally Smith.

Many of the most famous hacking events in the history of computers and networking are well-known because they were the first occurrences of programmers using knowledge to commit criminal activities or cause general chaos. Very few hackers who have successfully cracked systems have ever been able to escape eventual legal prosecution. Some of the most famous hackers were able to bypass expensive security systems with only the most minimal technology.

One of the first recorded hacking events was performed by Ian Murphy. This individual managed to break into one of the largest telecommunications networks in the world. Murphy modified many of the billing parameters of the phone switching and recording software. These changes caused discounted rates to be applied to phone calls that were placed during the busiest hours of the day. This hack was equivalent to cracking an automatic teller machine (ATM) with nothing more than an iPhone 4 screen protector.

A major hacking event that did not come with any harmful ramifications occurred in 1983 when Fred Cohen created the first computer virus or worm for academic purposes. This piece of software was able to replicate and travel from computer to computer hidden on floppy disks. The spread of this benign virus was evidence that computers were vulnerable to infestation from malicious pieces of software.

In 1988 a man name Robert Morris create a worm with the intent of infecting and then destroying all of computer networks that were connected to the Internet. The worm managed to crash thousands of networks before it was caught and remedied. Morris and his worm were one of the major reasons that the United States government developed the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The first person that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) publicly pursued for computer fraud was named Kevin Mitnick. Mitnick stole credit card numbers, proprietary project data and personal information from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is also thought that Mitnick was able to crack the computers of the North American Air Defense (NORAD) network. Mitnick was pursued as one of the FBI’s most wanted.

David Smith created the Melissa email virus in 1999. The virus was able to use the emerging bandwidth of the Internet to self-replicate until it had infected business systems and home computers around the world. The Melissa virus caused chaos for many months. David Smith is the only hacker who was sent to federal prison for hacking.

Michael Calce used a series of different scripts in the year 2000 to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks against many major websites. The scale and aggressiveness of the attacks forced the sites to shut down and changed the way that businesses viewed Internet security. The defeat of the largest Internet sites by a single individual created new and modern online security methodologies that are still in use today.

About the author:

Sally Smith writes about technology. In her spare time she likes to cook and run marathons.

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