Science & Technology

Who Am I?

Kevin Mitnick


I'm Kevin Mitnick and I've got some major cyber-egg on my face. Or maybe that's some major egg on my cyber-face. Anyway you slice it, I've just suffered a major hosing.

Back in the day, I was the most feared hacker in world, charged with causing millions of dollars of losses to corporate America, even though none of my putative victims ever documented their actual losses for the feds. Perhaps more important, as a doughy, junk-food-scarfing geek, I helped define the dark side of computer nerd-dom, eventually serving five years in the clink and three years on probation for wandering around databases where I didn't belong. More recently, I tried to set that record straight. The scary geek character has mostly faded from the American consciousness since then, to the point that my own obscurity is now exceeded only by detective Tsutomu Shimomura, who famously played Holmes to my Moriarty. (For that matter, when was the last time you heard anything from Shimomura's own bumbling Dr. Watson, the widely reviled New York Times writer John Markoff?)

So why the look of embarrassment now? It turns out that the Web site of my online security company, Defensive Thinking got hacked twice recently, once courtesy of a fellow named "BugBear" and once by a fellow asking for a job.

As part of my probation, I wasn't allowed to directly have anything to do with computers. That all changed on January 20. But this much is likely to stay the same: As long as I'm using Microsoft software, I better keep updating those security patches.