Kevin David Mitnick, a hacker once on the FBI’s most wanted list of hackers and known to be one of the world’s best hacker.
Best known for his high-profile 1995 arrest and five years in prison for various computer and communications-related crimes, has died at the age of 59.
He was suffering from pancreatic cancer and succumbed to his death on July 16, 2023.
The news was confirmed to the New York Times by a spokeswoman for KnowBe4, the cybersecurity company where Mitnick worked. His passing has also been reported in an obituary posted at Dignity Memorial, a Las Vegas funeral home.
About Kevin Mitnick
Born on August 6, 1963, in Van Nuys, California, Mitnik was an only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude toward authority, and a love for magic. In time, he transitioned from pranks and learning magic tricks to phone phreaking, social engineering, and computer hacking.
His hacking career of Mitnick started at the age of 16 when he first gained unauthorized access to Digital Equipment Corporation’s computer network and downloaded the company’s software illegally. This hacking gained him a lot of popularity.
Mitnick’s first conviction came in 1988 when he was sentenced to jail for 12 months, followed by three years of supervised release for acquiring unauthorized access to many computer systems.
When Mitnick was nearing the end of his supervised release, he hacked into Pacific Bell’s voicemail computers. After a warrant was issued for his arrest, he fled, becoming a fugitive for two-and-a-half years. While Mitnick was a fugitive, he had gained unauthorized access to dozens of computer networks.
He landed himself at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list for hacking into dozens of major corporations. Mitnick was finally arrested by the FBI on February 15, 1995, on federal offenses related to a two-and-a-half-year period of computer hacking, which included computer and wire fraud.
As per Wikipedia, Mitnick was charged with wire fraud (14 counts), possession of unauthorized access devices (8 counts), interception of wire or electronic communications, unauthorized access to a federal computer, and causing damage to a computer.
United StateIn 1999, Mitnick pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud, two counts of computer fraud, and one count of illegally intercepting a wire communication, as part of a plea agreement before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison along with 22 months for violating the terms of his 1989 supervised release sentence for computer fraud.
After serving five years in prison — four-and-a-half years’ pre-trial and eight months in solitary confinement, Mitnick was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was prohibited from using a computer or cell phone other than a landline telephone without the permission of his probation officer for the three years following his release.
Mitnick was a changed individual after his release and started a new career as a White Hat hacker and security consultant, author, and public speaker. He carried out security consulting, penetration testing services and taught social engineering classes to companies and government agencies.
Mitnick also wrote a series of books dedicated to hacking and cybersecurity. Some of his prominent works include “The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security,” “The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers,” and his autobiography, “Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker.”
He went on to establish the successful Mitnick Security Consulting in 2003. In November 2011, he became the Chief Hacking Officer and part owner of the security awareness training company KnowBe4, founded by his close friend and business partner, Stu Sjouwerman.
At the time of his death, Mitnick was working as a security evangelist and Chief Hacking Officer at KnowBe4.
He is survived by his wife, Kimberley Mitnick, who is pregnant with their first child, according to the published obituary.