A history of hacking
Hacking has been around for more than a century. In the
1870s, several teenagers were flung off the country’s brand
new phone system by enraged authorities. Here’s a peek at
how busy hackers have been in the past 35 years.
University facilities with huge mainframe computers, like
MIT’s artificial intelligence lab, become staging grounds
for hackers. At first, “hacker” was a positive term for a person
with a mastery of computers who could push programs
beyond what they were designed to do.
John Draper makes a long-distance call for
free by blowing a precise tone into a
telephone that tells the phone system to open
a line. Draper discovered the whistle as a
give-away in a box of children’s cereal.
Draper, who later earns the handle “Captain
Crunch,” is arrested repeatedly for phone tampering
throughout the 1970s.
Yippie social movement starts YIPL/TAP (Youth International
Party Line/Technical Assistance Program) magazine to help
phone hackers (called “phreaks”) make free long-distance
Two members of California’s Homebrew Computer Club
begin making “blue boxes,” devices used to hack into the
phone system. The members, who adopt handles “Berkeley
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Blue” (Steve Jobs) and “Oak Toebark” (Steve Wozniak), later
go on to found Apple Computer.
Author William Gibson coins the term “cyberspace” in a
science fiction novel called Neuromancer.
In one of the first arrests of hackers, the FBI busts the
Milwaukee-based 414s (named after the local area code) after
members are accused of 60 computer break-ins ranging
from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to Los Alamos
Comprehensive Crime Control Act gives Secret
Service jurisdiction over credit card and
Two hacker groups form, the Legion of Doom
in the United States and the Chaos Computer
Club in Germany.
2600: The Hacker Quarterly is founded to share tips on
phone and computer hacking.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act gives more clout to
Computer Emergency Response Team is formed by U.S.
defense agencies. Based at Carnegie Mellon University in
Pittsburgh, its mission is to investigate the growing volume of
attacks on computer networks.
At 25, veteran hacker Kevin Mitnick secretly monitors the
e-mail of MCI and Digital Equipment security officials. He is
convicted of damaging computers and stealing software and is
sentenced to one year in prison.
First National Bank of Chicago is the victim of a $70-million
An Indiana hacker known as “Fry Guy” — so named for
hacking McDonald’s — is raided by law enforcement. A similar
sweep occurs in Atlanta for Legion of Doom hackers known
by the handles “Prophet,” “Leftist” and “Urvile.”
After AT&T long-distance service crashes on Martin Luther
King Jr. Day, law enforcement starts a national crackdown
on hackers. The feds nab St. Louis’ “Knight Lightning” and in
New York grab Masters of Deception trio “Phiber Optik,” ”
Acid Phreak” and “Scorpion.” Fellow hacker “Eric Bloodaxe”
is picked up in Austin, Texas.
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Operation Sundevil, a special team of Secret Service agents
and members of Arizona’s organized crime unit, conducts
raids in 12 major cities, including Miami.
A 17-month search ends in the capture of hacker Kevin Lee
Poulsen (“Dark Dante”), who is indicted for stealing military
Hackers break into Griffith Air Force Base, then pewwwte
computers at NASA and the Korean Atomic Research
Institute. Scotland Yard nabs “Data Stream,” a 16-year-old
British teenager who curls up in the fetal position when seized.
A Texas A&M professor receives death threats after a
hacker logs on to his computer from off-campus and sends
20,000 racist e-mail messages using his Internet address.
In a highly publicized case, Kevin
Mitnick is arrested (again), this
time in Raleigh, N.C., after he is
tracked down via computer by
Tsutomu Shimomura at the San
Diego Supercomputer Center.
Hackers break into and deface
federal Web sites, including the
U.S. Department of Justice, U.S.
Air Force, CIA, NASA and
Report by the General Accounting Office finds Defense
Department computers sustained 250,000 attacks by hackers
in 1995 alone.
A Canadian hacker group called the Brotherhood, angry at
hackers being falsely accused of electronically stalking a
Canadian family, break into the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Web site and leave message: “The media are liars.”
Family’s own 15-year-old son eventually is identified as
Hackers pierce security in Microsoft’s NT operating
system to illustrate its weaknesses.
Popular Internet search engine Yahoo! is hit by hackers
claiming a “logic bomb” will go off in the PCs of Yahoo!’s
users on Christmas Day 1997 unless Kevin Mitnick is released
from prison. “There is no virus,” Yahoo! spokeswoman Diane
Since the introduction of personal computers in the 1970's, the art of computer hacking has grown along with changing roles of computers in society. Computers have taken over our lives. People could not function without them; our electricity is run by computers, the government could not function without computers, and there are many others. Hackers are people who illegally gain access to, and ...
Anti-hacker ad runs during Super Bowl XXXII. The Network
Associates ad, costing $1.3-million for 30 seconds, shows two
Russian missile silo crewmen worrying that a computer
order to launch missiles may have come from a hacker. They
decide to blow up the world anyway.
In January, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics is inundated
for days with hundreds of thousands of fake information
requests, a hacker attack called “spamming.”
Hackers break into United Nation’s Children Fund Web
site, threatening a “holocaust” if Kevin Mitnick is not freed.
Hackers claim to have broken into a Pentagon network and
stolen software for a military satellite system. They threaten
to sell the software to terrorists.
The U.S. Justice Department unveils National Infrastructure
Protection Center, which is given a mission to protect the
nation’s telecommunications, technology and transportation
systems from hackers.
Hacker group L0pht, in testimony before Congress, warns it
could shut down nationwide access to the Internet in less
than 30 minutes. The group urges stronger security measures.