Kevin Mitnick- One of The Greatest Showmen in the Cyber World!

by Duocircle


Kevin Mitnick is an unforgettable name in the history of cyber crimes. He was known by the name of “The World’s Most Famous Hacker.” An American computer security consultant, bestseller author as well as famous security speaker, Kevin David Mitnick created ripples in the cybersecurity world with his notorious hacking stints.

This article covers the story of this elusive cyber criminal who gave a tough time to the security experts with his extraordinary hacking skills.


Life and Background

Kevin was born on 6th August 1963. His childhood and teenage years were surrounded by a time of booming computer technology. Phones and computers fascinated him like nothing else. Quite different from other kids of his age, Kevin used to happily immerse himself in the latest technology of his time. Even his friend circle was comprised of “phone phreaks” who used to spend time together discussing about the landline pranks, computer technology, and so much more.

With each passing day, Kevin’s hunger and passion for technology grew manifold. He educated himself about computers, phones, programming and ham radios. He even managed to get his hands on an unrestricted FCC license, which he used to listen to the local police communications.

Soon, he became an invincible expert in gaining unauthorized access to vital details and sensitive information. 

But here’s the catch! He entered the world of hacking for pure adventure. He had no intention to harm others. Neither was he interested in making quick money through his hacking stints. 


Kevin’s hunger and passion for technology


Kevin loved that adrenaline rush of breaking into others’ systems. He was this “trophy hunter” who kept persuading big wins, shiny prizes, and accolades. He loved the idea that his intelligence and passion allowed him to overshadow the established norms and regulations. 

He once said, “I saw myself as an electronic joy rider.”

Kevin died in 2023 due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 59. 


The First Ever Hack by Mitnick

Kevin’s first-ever hacking stint was in 1979. He managed to break into the computer system of the University of Southern California (USC). The computer system was meant to run day-to-day administrative tasks for the University. Kevin gained illegitimate access to it and carried on with his deceit without raising any suspicion.

In the following years, Mitnick continued to hone his skills around social engineering. He became a known figure as a legendary hacker who was adept at penetrating into systems and evade the security setups just like that!


Mitnick’s Glorious Hacking Career

After his first hacking adventure, Mitnick, at the age of 16, broke into Digital Equipment Corporation’s computer network and successfully copied the company’s software

He got arrested for the first time in 1988 and was sentenced to 12 months, which was further followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Just before he got the supervised release, Kevin broke into the system of the Pacific Bell. When an arrest warrant was issued against Kevin, he became a fugitive for two and a half years. During this phase, he hacked multiple networks and cloned different cell phones to go untraceable. 

Mitnick was highly elusive because he managed to access phone system control in California, which further enabled him to wiretap the FBI communications. Because of his smart moves, the FBI agents got confused and ended up raiding an innocent immigrant from the Middle East.


The Infamous 1995 Arrest

The FBI arrested Mitnick in 1995 and that was pretty much the end of his hacking career. This arrest, however, led to a “Free Kevin Movement.”

Arresting Kevin would not have been possible if he had not left behind pieces of evidence carelessly. The FBI charged him with multiple cyber crimes. He was imprisoned for five long years.

Eventually Kevin pleaded guilty for all the cyber crimes and as a result, his punishment got reduced. He tasted freedom once again in January 2000.


Life After Imprisonment

Once he was out of prison, Kevin decided to change his life for good. Mitnick aimed at becoming a white hat hacker. He started leveraging his knowledge and skillsets to build up a respectable life. Soon, he started working as a cybersecurity consultant. Mitnick used to run Mitnick Security Consulting LLC and was the co-owner of KnowBe4. He also offered penetration testing services for the FBI as well as some of the Fortune 500 companies.



Because of his raw experiences as a seasoned hacker, he was also invited to multiple events as a guest speaker. He wrote a couple of books on cyber security, such as “The Art of Invisibility,” “The Art of Deception,” and “Transformational Security Awareness,” and became a bestselling American author.


Tips and Tricks From The Horse’s Mouth

Kevin was highly vocal about personal privacy in the digital world. He shared some of the useful measures and hacks to maintain user privacy online:


User Anonymity

Kevin believed in defending user anonymity. So, he shared the following tips to stay invisible online:

  1. Safeguarding your original IP address: You can use an anonymous remailer that will hide your email’s IP address. Or you can try using the Onion router or Tor for browsing the internet. Tor constantly keeps changing the path between you and the website you are searching for.
  2. Obscuring hardware as well as software: You can obscure your IP address by using Tor on a separate device. Avoid using Tor on the device that you use all day for general browsing. 
  3. New account creation: Try to create a new account by leveraging Tor. This will help you set up an account without associating it with your original IP address.
  4. Isolate activities: Never browse the internet while you are logged into an anonymous email account. Otherwise, you can unknowingly search for something that may reveal your true identity.


password security tips

Image sourced from


Encrypted Emails

Kevin suggested end-to-end encryption for emails. He insisted users to leverage publicly available encryption algorithms. When you use a public algorithm, it means that your emails are safe and secure, and have been “vetted for weaknesses.” He suggested to go for the apps that actually offer end-to-end email encryption services. 

Kevin also laid emphasis on private key management and metadata protection. In order to keep your emails safe, you are required not to share your private key with anyone. Also, the metadata plays a crucial role in keeping you invisible and safe in the digital world.


A Criminal or a Genius?

Kevin was charged for accessing 20000+ credit card numbers and stealing software for obscuring his identity. However, the FBI and other related authorities did not find any evidence of Kevin using the data for monetary gains.

Mitnick wrote in his memoir “Ghost In The Wires” that “Anyone who loves to play chess knows that it’s enough to defeat the opponent. You don’t have to loot his kingdom or seize his assets to make it worthwhile.”

Kevin enjoyed hacking purely for the adventurous feel. He never wanted to exploit his skills to mint illegitimate money.


genius hacker


The hacker community across the globe still respects his legacy and remembers him with great respect and admiration. They consider him the greatest showman of the cybersecurity world.

Even though Kevin Mitnick will always be known as a cyber criminal in the FBI records, the world will remember him as a genius who dared to challenge the established cyber security regulations with his extraordinary skills demonstrating the importance of phishing protection.

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