One time most wanted cyber criminal and a reformed hacker, Kevin Mitnick passed away at the age of 59. He was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Mitnick was jailed for five years in 1995 after being charged with computer and wire fraud before serving two years of federal probation.
But after his release in 2000, he reinvented himself and became a well-known “white hat” hacker, cyber security consultant and author.
His obituary read, “Kevin was an original man; much of his life seems like a fictional story.”
“He grew up brilliant and restless in the San Fernando Valley in California, an only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude toward authority, and a love of magic.”
The 59-year-old former hacker came into limelight in the 1990s after he gained access to vast amounts of information by breaking into government and large corporate websites.
He carried out the theft of thousands of credit card numbers and data files across the country, damaging corporate, government and university computer systems.
Investigators dubbed him the world’s “most wanted” computer hacker.
In his 2011 memoir, ghost in the starsMitnick denies that he stole or misused the information for financial gain.
He wrote, “Anyone who likes to play chess knows that this is enough to defeat your opponent. You do not need to plunder his kingdom or confiscate his property to make it worthwhile.”
Following his arrest, the hacking community launched the ‘Free Kevin’ movement and held rallies outside the prison where he was detained.
After being released, he became a “white hat” hacker – using skills to identify vulnerabilities in systems – author and public speaker.
He founded Mitnick Security Consulting in 2003, where he provided services on cyber security to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
“Kevin will always be the ‘world’s most famous hacker’ and was renowned for his intelligence, humor and extraordinary skill with technology, surpassed only by his talents as the original ‘social engineer,'” the company said in a statement on Thursday.