Remembering Kevin Mitnick: A Cybersecurity Luminary’s Legacy and Impact on the Industry

Xavier Roger
Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty

Kevin Mitnick, the renowned hacker and social engineer, has passed away peacefully at the age of 59 after battling pancreatic cancer for 14 months. The news of his death was confirmed by his family and senior staff members at KnowBe4, a security awareness and training company where Mitnick was a part-owner and held the position of chief hacking officer.

Mitnick, known as the world’s most famous hacker, was celebrated for his intelligence, humor, and exceptional talent in social engineering. His early interest in hacking and social engineering began at the age of 12 when he convinced an LA bus driver to reveal the location of a mechanical ticket punching device, which he used to ride buses for free. As he grew older, he delved deeper into phone phreaking and hacking computer systems, eventually breaking into the network of Digital Equipment Corporation at the age of 16.

The legal troubles for Mitnick started in 1988 when he was charged and convicted for breaking into the network of Pacific Bell phone company while on supervised release. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he went on the run, leading to a two-year manhunt. He was arrested in 1995, facing multiple charges related to wire fraud, unauthorized access to computer systems, and causing damage to a computer.

Throughout his legal battles, Kevin Mitnick maintained that he was not a malicious cybercriminal and argued that the media had misconstrued his actions. Despite ongoing support from his followers during the famous “Free Kevin” campaign, he eventually pleaded guilty to some charges and served a 46-month jail term, plus an additional 22 months for violating his supervised release arrangement.

Upon his release, Mitnick established his own security consultancy and became a prominent consultant, public speaker, and author in the cybersecurity field. He contributed to the industry through his writings and was portrayed by Skeet Urich in the movie “Takedown.”

In more recent years, Mitnick collaborated with KnowBe4 to develop the Kevin Mitnick Security Awareness Training (KMSAT) security education package, which became one of the company’s most popular offerings.

A memorial service for Kevin Mitnick is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on August 1, 2023, where he will be laid to rest alongside his mother and grandmother. Further information, including virtual attendance details, will be shared for friends and colleagues who wish to pay their respects.

In lieu of flowers, Mitnick’s family has requested donations to be made to the US National Pancreas Foundation or the Equal Justice Initiative in his memory. The cybersecurity world mourns the loss of a true luminary and pioneer in the industry, whose legacy will continue to inspire future generations.


Source : Computer Weekly


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