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Mitnick In The News


Kevin Mitnick, the most famous hacker in history.

Mar 14, 2016 - JAVAHEROS, by Tamtata

(Google Translation)

This is his story: Kevin David Mitnik, alias "El Condor", was born on August 6, 1963 in Van Nuys, a small town south of California. 41 years ago. Kevin did not have an easy childhood. His parents divorced, and the environment in which they grew represented one of the causes that led him to lock himself at home and stay in solitude, time (1970s) which was seduced by the sweetness of computing; in particular, by the power that he could get glimpsed through telephone networks. In fact, even though Kevin has received epithets as diverse as hacker, cracker, hacker and other nice words that I avoid anything to mention, the fact is that in essence, Mitnik has always been a Phreaker; phreaker the best in history, according to many.

From a young age he was intrigued by electronic communication systems, cultivating and developing a quasi obsessive desire to research, learn and achieve seemingly impossible goals. In adolescence Mitnick had already become a phenomenon. At 16 marks its first line behind the barrier the "dark side", which we never separate: security management system skipped his school; however, he did to alter grades, as you might think, but "just to look".

Henceforth he begins his career as a criminal. The date, 1981. Kevin and two friends broke into the offices of Cosmos (Computer System for Mainframe Operations) company Pacific Bell, which was a database used by most US phone companies to control logging calls. Once there they obtained the list of security keys, the combination of the doors of several branches, and manuals COSMOS system, among other things. In fact, he said the stolen by Mitnick and his friends had a value equivalent to 170,000 euros.

Using social engineering used their pseudonyms and phone numbers on one of the desks in the room. So, they used the false name of "John Draper," who was a well-known computer programmer, and also a legendary phreaker known as "Captain Crunch". Telephone numbers were referred to other routes. However, this performance was far from being a success. A manager of a telephone company soon found these phone numbers and put it in knowledge of the local police started investigating. Because the girlfriend of one of his friends, intimidated by what might happen betrayed them to the police, Mitnick was sentenced by a juvenile court to three months in prison and one year under probation, because it was still a minor . That was his first time in prison, not the last.

One of the curious stories related to this stage of Mitnick has to do with the officer in charge of your case. At age three months in prison, Mitnick first thing he did was leave a "surprise" to the above. The officer found that his phone had been disconnected and all log data in the telephone company had been deleted. From here, it all happened with disturbing speed.

It is said that Mitnik adopted its nickname or nom de guerre ( "Condor") after seeing the movie starring Robert Redford's "Three Days of the Condor" because somehow he was identified with the protagonist. Redford portrayed an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency US (CIA) who becomes embroiled in a murky affair that continues with relentless persecution. His codename "Condor" and Redford uses his experience to manipulate the phone system and avoid capture.

His next arrest came shortly after; in 1983, by a police University of Southern California where he had some problems a few years earlier. Mitnick was captured by using a university computer to gain access (illegal) to the ARPAnet (the predecessor of Internet). In fact it was discovered entering a Pentagon computer through ARPAnet, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment in a juvenile prison in California (California Youth AthorityŽs Karl Holton Training School). Once released, he obtained the license of "X Hacker".

In 1987 Mitnick seemed to be making a change in your life, and began to live with a young woman who was taking computer classes with him at a local school. After a while, anyway, his obsession emerged ys use of numbers credit cards illegal phone led police to the apartment he shared with his girlfriend Mitnick in the village Thousand Oaks, California. Mitnick was accused of stealing software Microcorp Systems, a small Californian software company, and that same December he was sentenced to three years probation.

After this Mitnick, she applied for a job at the Security Pacific Bank in charge of the security of the bank's network, but this rejected precisely because of his criminal record. Mitnick's response was to falsify a balance sheet of the bank where losses were $ 400 million they showed and tried to spread it over the network. However, the network administrator stopped this action on time.

That same year started the scandal that launched him to fame. From 1987 to 1988 Kevin and his friend, Lenny DiCicco, got into a continuous electronic anti scientists digital research lab in Palo Alto. Mitnick was blinded in obtaining a copy of the prototype of the new operating system called VMS security and was trying to get obtaining entry to the corporate network of the company, known coo Easynet. Digital computers Palo Alto lab seemed simple, so every night and inestimable persistence Mitnick and DiCicco launched their attacks from a small Californian company (Calabasas), where DiCicco worked as a technician. Although the company discovered the attacks almost immediately, they did not know where they came from. In fact neither the FBI could rely on the data obtained from telephone companies because Mitnick was concerned with not a trace altering the program manager to track the origin of the calls and diverting track of your call to other places. On one occasion, the FBI, believing he had found Mitnick broke into the home of immigrants who were watching television, to the astonishment of these and those.

However, were already on the track Mitnick, who, frightened by the possibility of being caught, betrayed his companion and tried to put the feds on track DiCicco, making anonymous calls to the head of this working in a software company as technical support. Seeing the betrayal of Mitnick, DiCicco finally confessed everything to his boss who notified the DEC (Digital Equiment Corporation) and the FBI. Soon, a team of agents telephone security department managed to capture him. It was 1988. 

Although DEC claimed that Mitnick had stolen software worth several million dollars, Kevin was charged with computer fraud and illegal possession of access codes for long distance. It was the fifth time that Mitnick had been arrested for a case of computer crime and the case attracted the attention of the whole nation, thanks to an unusual tactic of defense. The defense requested a year in prison and six months in a rehabilitation program to treat his addiction to computers. It was a strange defense tactic, but a federal court, after hesitating, he thought there was some kind of psychological relationship between the obsession Mitnick to enter computer systems and drug addiction or slots and was given the go good. After the prison period and season with psychologists, where he was forbidden to approach a computer or phone (he lost 45 kilos of weight), Mitnick went to Las Vegas and got a job as a computer programmer low level in a company shipping mailing lists. 
In 1992, Mitnick moved to the area of the San Fernando Valley after his half brother died of an apparent heroin overdose. There he had a short construction job that left at getting a job through a friend of his father in Detective Agency Tel Tec. As soon as I started working, someone was discovered illegally using the system base commercial agency data and why Kevin was the subject of an investigation under the baton of the FBI.

In September they searched his apartment as the home and workplace of another member of his group phreakers. Two months after a federal court ordered the arrest of Mitnick for violating the terms of his freedom in 1989. When they went to arrest him, Mitnick had disappeared without trace since becoming a fugitive hacker. 

One of the theories being considered reflecting on the echo had Mitnick in society and among themselves hackers was that computer security at that time was no man's land; the computer had just awakened and computer literacy of users and technicians do not represent the current abyss.

In 1991 the famous showdown with New York Times reporter, John Markoff who led from the 88 writing about business and technology occurs. In fact, the same year he received the award from the Software Publishers Association to the best report. Kevin has always insisted that Markoff called him to collaborate on a book he was writing about him; Mitnick refused and Markoff published his exemplary exposing Mitnick as a true computer criminal. According to Mitnick, "it all started with a series of articles by John Markoff on the cover of The New York Times, full of false accusations and defamatory, which later were denied by the authorities. Markoff had it in for me because I refused to collaborate in his book and created the myth of Kevin Mitnick, to transform Takedown [his book] into a bestseller. " After that hunt by the authorities had begun. Mitnick has defended this hunt stating that "The authorities took the opportunity to transform the scapegoat of all the hackers of the earth. And to self-justification, to the improbable exaggerated the damage that could cause." 

In 1994 with the boom in mobile telephony, Mitnick found this ideal can not be located and wander from one place to another platform. But he needed to use a number of programs that would allow it to move with the same ease with which he had done before (via the telephone network). Thus, through its refined and successful social engineering techniques, he manages to take the key of the personal computer of Tsutomu Shimomura thanks to the technique of IP Spoofing (distortive ip), that precipitous lucky Mitnick, was a Japanese specialist computer, belonging to the Netcom on-Line Communications security. His encounter with Shimomura would lead to the decline. 
Shimomura was considered a white hat hacker (whitehats), a hacker of good, that when discovered a vulnerability made him aware of the police or the competent entity rather than spread it to other hackers on the Web. When he realized they had violated the security of his own computer, he began researching it, and given the immodest Mitnick character, Shimomura was launched in personal crusade against already called "superhacker" and said that "entrap the stupid American" , would not stop until catch him. And so it was. 

In 1995, after discovering software Shimomura an account The Well (he used to launch attacks on known companies such as Apple, Motorola and Qualcomm), an isp California, took about two weeks to determine that the calls They came from Raleigh (California). After also go through the isp Internex, Shimomura contacted the FBI and they sent a group of trace equipped with a cell simulator (a computer usually used to test mobile) which dealt with the phone is registered Mitnick whether it was on or not. A good radar to locate the hacker. At the stroke of midnight began the search for origin of the signal. A few hours later they located the signal in a group of apartments, but still not know which of them could be found Mitnick.

Meanwhile, Shimomura and the FBI planned to capture the hacker for the next day (February 16), but an error in the coded message that Shimomura referred to the charge of Netcom precipitated his capture, as this had orders to backup all the material that had Mitnick and then proceed to erase once was captured. And that interpreted. The FBI was doomed to make swift action if they did not want to lose again, so as not suspect that Mitnick could be armed, they announced their presence to the apartment door that Mitnick was. This quietly opened the door and was immediately arrested. The hacker had been captured. It was February 15, 1995. 

But Shimomura still one more surprise awaited him that day. Upon returning home and review the messages he had received on his answering machine, bowled heard several messages left by Mitnick; messages he had received several hours after capture Mitnick. The realization of these calls still remains a mystery that is part of the interesting history of this hacker. 

Kevin Mitnick was accused of software theft, wire fraud, damage to the computers of the University of Southern California, theft of files and interception of emails. Among the affected companies included Nokia, Fujitsu, NEC, Novell, Sun Microsystems, Motorola, Apple ... He pleaded not guilty and sentence sentenced to 5 years in prison without bail, which unnerved the thousands of hackers still passionate about the history of the Condor and began the popular campaign "Free Kevin" (Liberate Kevin) altering well-known websites: Unicef, New York Times, Fox TV and so on. 

Mitnick, who was released in January 2000 after spending almost five years in federal prison, was paroled until January 2003, where the investigating judge in the case, Mariana Pfaelzer forbade Mitnick accerder to any type of computer, mobile phone , television, or any electronic device that could connect to the Internet, which your computer abstinence also accompanied him during the three years after their release from prison. 

Despite this, Mitnick did not waste time. He launched his own company, Defensive Thinking, a security consulting, and began writing a book about its history. Although according to court judgment is prohibited obtain economic benefit from it until 2010, on 4 October 2002 it came to light "The art of deception" (The Art of Deception), which describes techniques of manipulation and persuasion through which you can obtain the necessary codes to enter the company network and impersonating another person, for example. Its release explained the grounds that the book had educational purpose. "Certain techniques and tricks have you used them against some companies, but all the stories in the book are fictitious," he said. 

In late 2003, Kevin announced his second book, "The Art of Intrusion". The announcement was made in a very peculiar way, as Kevin claimed to be looking for stories that can be proven and that tell the way they did, preserving the identity of the assailants. "Hackers" selected would receive as payment a copy of the first book of Mitnick, "The Art of Deception", a copy of the second, both signed by the author, and the option of getting the award for best assault, worth 500,000 dollars.

As fun facts, Mitnick participated in some television series; among them, he appeared on "Alias" ABC playing a CIA computer; a radio show produced and sold some of his possessions (a Toshiba Satellite 1960CS 4400SX and Toshiba). 

Movies have been made about his life as Takedown (Assault Final) in 2000, also known as Hackers 2 and some books as "Cyber Alert: Portrait of an ex-hacker" The Fugitive Game: Online With Kevin Mitnick, The Cyberthief and the samurai, or "Takedown". 

Today, Mitnick is a security consultant, is dedicated to lecture on the protection of computer networks, social engineering, etc., throughout the world, to continue writing books, and collected many millions of dollars with it.