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Hijacking Lines: Mitnick At Work

The Fifteen Greatest Hacking Exploits

Like his predecessors, Kevin Mitnick also started hacking by modifying telephone lines in his neighborhood. In 1981, 17-year-old Kevin and a friend hacked a Computer System for Mainframe Operations (COSMOS) exchange belonging to Pacific Bell in Los Angeles. Once inside the system, he diverted the lines and intercepted all calls going through the exchange.

Subscribers quickly started to complain about what they thought were errors or practical jokes being played by operators. Kevin Mitnick would, of course, answer these calls himself, sometimes even using tasteless jokes.

Mitnick Sows Panic

But Mitnick did not stop there: he continued to latch onto Pacific Bell and its COSMOS system. He was able to enter the system's database, stealing the data of several subscribers. He easily gained access to billing statements, passwords, gateway combinations and even a system manual. He also profited from this access to divert lines for his personal use.

It was not until later that a Pacific Bell technician discovered abnormalities in the COSMOS system. An investigation was launched, quickly leading to the phone booth Kevin Mitnick used to make his calls and access the network; at that point, it was just a matter of waiting for him to appear and catch him in the act. Accused of data degradation and theft, Mitnick benefited from the judges' clemency, and was sentenced to three months in a reformatory and one year of probation.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 4, 2008 7:27 AM
    They should have very serious consequences for hackers. I'm tired of defaced websites, viruses, trojans, etc. Although it is fun to screw around with other people's computers..especially if they've done it to you...but either way there should be some huge penalties for hacking. I say chop off a thumb on the first offence. 2nd offence: chope off the rest of the fingers on that hand. Hackers along with script kiddies would cease to exist.
  • 3 Hide
    itadakimasu , September 12, 2008 7:20 PM
    sounds like you have been the victim of malware and virii while doing some questionable internet browsing...
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 16, 2008 4:41 AM
    Well, 'Anonymous', I hope you're using Tor to browse the 'intarweb', you worthless plebian.
    Here in the USA, we aren't barbarians, and the only people who would even deserve such harsh treatment would be rapists and their ilk. Even so, we just lock em up and release them on probation a few months/years later. :p 
    Not perfect, but I say cutting off fingers because you're too stupid to take basic steps to protect your system? Kinda harsh.
    The difference between a robber and a hacker, is that you can completely stop a hacker by unplugging your phone line from your modem.
    Do that, for the sake of humanity. :p 
  • 0 Hide
    arkadi , September 18, 2008 1:27 PM
    Well it is important info, but i don't think you can call them the best :)  they got basted after all. Governments got best hackers if you ask me.
  • 0 Hide
    Reynod , September 18, 2008 1:39 PM
    There are numerous other well documented hacks that probably deserved a mention.

    At least you did take the moral high ground.

    You neglected to mention Electron and Phoenix ... clearly they were better than most of these mentioned here.

  • 2 Hide
    deadliest , October 17, 2008 10:44 AM
    hmmm so this hacker list is not complete oh oh oh , you should have guys, it was most interesting reading about this. But i think hackers are a necessary evil without them how would i play my pirated games :D 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 13, 2010 11:03 PM
    @ Arkadi
    "Well it is important info, but i don't think you can call them the best :)  they got basted after all. Governments got best hackers if you ask me. "

    Lol, where do you think the Government found there hackers? They hired guys like this ^^Rofl
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2011 9:12 AM
    Script kiddies. Blegh.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2011 8:58 AM
    its good to be a hacker
  • 0 Hide
    jordanprogrammer , October 8, 2013 9:19 AM
    the best website for programming language: