CNET interviews Kevin Mitnick, Part 1


Kevin Mitnick
Image by LuisCarlos Díaz via Flickr

CNET is doing a three part interview with the most famous of hackers, Kevin Mitnick.

There is no question who the most famous hacker is. One of the first computer hackers prosecuted, Kevin Mitnick was labeled a “computer terrorist” after leading the FBI on a three-year manhunt for breaking into computer networks and stealing software at Sun, Novell, and Motorola.

Known more for social engineering his way into networks than actually hacking them, Mitnick frustrated law enforcement not only by staying one step ahead of them but also with pranks like leaving doughnuts for them to find when they raided his empty home.

Finally arrested in 1995, Mitnick pleaded guilty to wire and computer fraud charges and was released from prison in 2002. His notoriety has helped him get lucrative speaking engagements and launch a security consultancy, where he gets paid for doing some of the very actions that landed him in jail.

In the first in a three-part Q&A series with hackers, CNET News talked to Mitnick, now 45, about what got him interested in computers in the first place, the differences between hacking today and three decades ago, and whether it’s wise to hire a former black hat hacker to do security work.

The first part of the interview is very forthcoming about his past and advice to young hackers.  And an interesting response when it comes to companies hiring former black hackers.

Some people say companies shouldn’t hire former black hat hackers. What are your thoughts on that?
I’m hired all the time. So far it has not really been an impediment. You have to evaluate the person’s skill set, their maturity, and what they did before as a hacker. Were they getting credit card numbers and buying merchandise on the Internet? Or were they hacking systems for their own intellectual curiosity? You can’t just lump black hat hackers into one category. You have to look at what they did in the past, what they’ve done since then, and what credentials they have to get the job done. People who have operated on the other side of the law, like Frank Abagnale, he is a prime example. He reformed himself and now is the leading authority on counterfeit money and checks. Look as Steve Wozniak. He even started out as a phone phreak (and sold blue boxes on UC Berkeley campus). But he took a whole different direction. He’s done a lot of good for the community. That’s another factor–what good has that person done for the community and industry since the transgression? (Source: Q&A: Kevin Mitnick, from ham operator to fugitive to consultant – CNET Security)

Go to the source and read the whole thing.

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About brvanlanen

Just a thirty-something guy currently hanging it up in the greater Green Bay area. My post-high school educational background is mainly in the Information Technology field. Specifically I have an A.A.S. in Computer Network Systems and a B.S. in Information Systems Security, both from ITT Technical Institute, in addition to A and MCDST certifications. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking and sports. My Christian faith is also important to me as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and all my children attend a Lutheran grade school. When it comes to political leanings I am a conservative first and foremost which you will discover rather quickly. As for sports I am a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers.

Posted on June 22, 2009, in Hacking, Security, Technology News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on CNET interviews Kevin Mitnick, Part 1.

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