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Jonathan James became famous for being the first juvenile to be carted off to prison for illegal computing activity. At 16 years old, James targeted high-profile organizations including an agency of the Department of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and NASA.
In an interview, he said:
"I was just looking around, playing around. What was fun for me was a challenge to see what I could pull off."
It ended up being a little more than a few challenges. James installed a backdoor into the DTRA's server so he was able to view sensitive emails and catch profile details, and in the case of NASA, he hacked into computers and stole software worth approximately $1.7 million, according to reports.
NASA ended up shutting down its computer systems, resulting in costs of $41,000 according to the Department of Justice. James aka 'c0mrade' would have possibly faced a minimum of ten years in prison if he was an adult at the time. Instead, he was banned from recreational computer use, and after breaking a house arrest parole, ended up in prison for six months.
Kevin Mitnick, described by the U.S. Department of Justice as "the most wanted computer criminal in United States history", was known as a self-styled 'poster boy' for hacking.
Famous for allegedly accessing high-profile computer systems of companies including Nokia, Fujitsu and Motorola, Mitnick became a player in a highly publicized dance and chase by authorities before being arrested in 1995.
Mitnick was convicted for breaking into the Digital Equipment Corporation's computer network and stealing software. Before that particular stunt, he was known for exploiting bus punch card systems in LA and phone phreaking.
He pleaded guilty to several charges as part of a plea bargain and served a 5-year sentence -- 8 months reportedly in solitary confinement -- before being released on parole. Today, Mitnick runs a computer security consultancy and is a public speaker and author.
Loyd Blankenship, also known as 'The Mentor', was a member of several hacker elite groups in the 1980s. The most famous was called the 'Legion of Doom' -- a group who stipulated they fought against rivals the 'Masters Of Deception' for online supremacy.
However, Blankenship is more famously known for writing the 'Hacker Manifesto' -- The Conscience of a Hacker -- which was written after his arrest in 1986. The book in question is still used by hackers today, and by some is considered a cornerstone of hacker philosophy -- namely that curiosity is the main crime of hackers, rather than simply conniving to break the law.