A hacker is a computer aficionado, a modern day Robin Hood, or an educated thug who breaks in to corporate and government computer systems using their home computer and a telephone modem. Despite this flurry of attention, their everyday life and social world remains largely unknown. They have needs, motives and individual characteristics that made them the criminals of the information age. Our current knowledge derive form hackers who have been caught by enforcement agents and computer security specialists. But, what makes a hacker tick?
What drives them to crack security codes, steal highly sensitive data and become digital renegades? They are firm believers of the power of information. Computer hackers are driven by curiouslty to gain more knowledge and power. Most hackers like to use outrageous handles or aliases like “Phiber Optik” or “Emmanuel Goldstein” to hide their real identities. On February 15, 1995, a hacker by the alias, “Condor” whose real identity is Kevin David Mitnick became one of the most notorious hackers ever to be captured.
He was America’s most wanted computer outlaw, charged with 25 counts of alleged federal computer and wire fraud violations. His downfall was on Christmas of 1994 when he broke in to Tsutomo Shimomura’s computers in San Diego, California. Shimomura had tracked him down less than two months later, after a grueling cross country electronic pursuit. The FBI and the US Marshall’s finally caught up with Kevin in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kevin broke into countless computers, intercepted private electronic communications, and copied off personal and confidential materials.
Much of the software he stole were trade secret source codes to key products in which companies have invested millions of dollars for development. He tried to stay a step ahead of the law by using cloned cellular phones and stolen cellular and internet service for many of his intrusions. Kevin was in his late twenties when he was arrested. Today, most of the hackers that have been apprehended by federal authorities are teenage males, ranging from the ages 14 to 19. The older, more elite hackers have a term for these hackers as the “script kiddies”, in other words, amateurs.
They have been accused of vandalizing and defacing websites, altering information, “Denial of Service” attacks and stealing internet service acounts and passwords. A new breed of computer criminals has evolved. Another hacker by the alias, “Chameleon” whose real identity was never revealed because he was a minor. At 16, Chameleon left high school to become a superstar of the hacking underground. He hacked into several military computer systems and defaced government websites such as NASA.
It was rumored all over the hacking world that he had stolen a software that controlled the military’s spy satellites. This caught the attention of a known middle eastern terrorist Osama Binladen. Chameleon faced off with one of America’s most dangerous enemies. He received a piece of mail from someone he didn’t know, who lived overseas wanting to buy the software that he allegedly stole. The man also sent Chameleon twenty five hundred dollars in cash to convince him that he was serious about the purchase. Soon enough, the FBI found him and raided his home.
They later found out that he did not have the sought satellite software from the evidence they have collected. He was still arrested with intrusion charges. He was on probation for two years, prohobiting him from the use of a computer and did countless hours of community service. Although these hackers did not pose as harm to soceity nor did they hack with malicious intent to damage or destroy other people’s property. They are hackers who never sought monetary gain from their hacking, though it could have been extremely profitable since they stole propreitary copyrighted software.