Legendary Hacker: It Was 'a Huge Game'

Mitnick reflects on the road from 'computer terrorist' to consultant
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 22, 2009 12:00 PM CDT
Computer hacker Kevin Mitnick appears outside Los Angeles Federal Court building June 26, 2000.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Tagged a “computer terrorist,” Kevin Mitnick served jail time after eluding the FBI for 3 years; today, he’s a security consultant. The best-known hacker ever tells CNET his infiltration of firms like Motorola and Sun “was like a huge game”: “thrilling, adventurous,” and “all about solving the puzzle.” But to aspiring hackers, he says: “Don’t follow in my footsteps.”

“It was the wrong thing to do,” he says. But it was necessary as a way to learn. “At the time there was no such thing as penetration testing and no school curriculum on security. You had to be self-taught.” Today, he’s happy doing “ethical hacking” on companies’ behalf. How often, he asks, can you “take a criminal activity, legitimize it, and get paid for it?”