The Internet is one of mankind's greatest achievements, but it also gave birth to a completely new bread of criminals named hackers. While most of them resort to hacking in order to make some kind of political statement (see Anonymous, The Syrian Electronic Army or The Legion of Doom), there are others who are in it simply for money or the thrill of outsmarting everyone else. Here are the most notorious 11 cyber-criminals to ever get caught.
Let's begin with Ehud Tenebaum. This infamous Israeli cyber-criminal created his own hacker group at the young age of 19 and cracked the computer systems of the US Air Force, US Navy, Pentagon, NASA, Knesset, MIT and some of the other largest American institutions. His light-side work includes breaking into computers and networks of various terrorist groups based in Palestine and taking down several of Hamas's websites.
This hacker from New York has been a known member of not one, but several of the most notorious hacker groups in history, including both the Legion of Doom and the Masters of Deception. One of the most prominent cyber-criminals of his time, Mark Abene mostly targeted large corporations. His hacking skills went beyond computers, as he also cracked into some the biggest telecommunication systems in the United States.
One of the most unusual hackers on our list, Vladimir Levin stands out due to the fact that he didn't use the Internet for his hacking activities. Instead, the Russian hacker cracked into CitiBank’s telecommunication systems in 1995, listened in on the conversations with clients and intercepted their confidential account information. Once he had all the data he needed, he stole approximately $10 million USD, but was caught shortly after and pleaded guilty to just one charge of making a $3.7 million illegal transfer. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail and forced to pay $240,000 in damages to CitiBank. The authorities were able to recover almost all of the money. (About 400,00 are still missing.)
Max Ray "Iceman" Butler
Another notorious hacker, Max Ray Butler, a.k.a. Iceman, started out as a security engineer before turning dark and becoming one of the greatest hackers that the world has ever seen. Throughout his prolific career Mr. Butler managed to get a hold of over 2 million credit card numbers, stealing around $86 million USD. (That's not so much actually, an average of $43 per card.) He is now serving a sentence of 13 years in prison after being also charged with running a forum which dealt exclusively in transactions of stolen cards.
Michael Demon Calce
Mafiaboy, known by his real name Michael Calce, is a nickname that will stay associated with DDoS attacks for a long time. While he was still in high school, he took down big-time websites such as Yahoo!, Ebay, Amazon, Dell or CNN. His arrogance turned out to be his weak point, as the FBI caught him after he bragged about his actions on IRC, providing details not disclosed to the public. Calce was sentenced to 6 months of open custody and one year of probation. He is now writing books about Internet security.
One of the enigmas of hacking, the man known as Astra had broken into the network of French aviation company Dassault Group and was stealing plans and other data for no less than 5 years. This Greek cyber-criminal sold stolen information to any interested party, causing losses of somewhere around $360 million for the aviation company. What's even more interesting is that, even though he was apprehended back in 2008, his actual identity remains a mystery. All I know is that he was a 58-year old mathematician.
If you think the Iceman was bad, Mr. Albert Gonzalez managed to steal approximately 170 million credit card numbers. He used SQL injections and ARP spoofing attacks in order to reach his nefarious purposes. He was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to the charges. Up until now, his operation is the biggest card fraud ever recorded.
Boy-genius Gary McKinnon has found asylum in his native UK, but if his country ever decides to extradite him, he would probably be locked up in a federal jail. This Scottish hacker managed to break into no less than 97 American military networks within a year (between 2001 and 2002) and, according to unconfirmed rumors, he also left messages about the lackadaisical security measures encountered. Mr. McKinnon stated that he broke into the servers searching for proof of alien life cover-ups (which explains the asylum part in more ways than one), and that he even found photographic evidence, but because of the bad Internet connection he was unable to download it.
Julian Paul Assange
This is a name that most of you should know, as Jullian Paul Assange has become a real celebrity after the WikiLeaks scandal. However, before becoming publicly known for founding the website that publishes top secret information, this Australian-born man was quite the hacker. At the young age of 16, Mr. Assange broke into various systems belonging to the US army and published the documents that he had stolen. He was also part of hacking group called International Subversives using Mendax as his nickname
I'm all for equality and all, but the fact that she's a woman has nothing to do with why Kristina Vladimirovna Svechinskaya appears on this list. Born in 1989, this Russian hacker is much more than just a pretty face, as she managed to steal around $3 million USD. According to her charges, she and her accomplices went after the Bank of America and a few banks from the UK, infecting their networks with a Zeus Trojan and managing to open thousands of accounts. She was arrested, but never actually went to jail.
Karl Koch isn't on this list because of the amount of money he stole. What makes him stand out is the fact that he's one of the very hew hackers to get involved in the Cold War. This German-born cyber-criminal became a publicly known figure all the way back in the 1980s when he stole top secret documents from the US military computers and sold them to the USSR (namely, the KGB). He was also a member of several infamous hacking groups including the Chaos Computers Club (CCC).