Famous Computer Network Crimes on the Internet

We often associate criminals with big cities or dark, remote locations. Some of the most interesting crime occurs in the virtual world, however, on computer networks on the Internet. Take a look at these cases for some famous examples. Believe it or not, network crime dates back at least least three decades!

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A Professional Security Consultant

Laptop wrapped in crime scene tape
Getty Images/Tim Robberts

Kevin Mitnick (a.k.a., "Condor") began his exploits in 1979 at the age of sixteen, logging into the network of Digital Equipment Corporation and copying some of their proprietary software code. He was convicted of this offense also spent five years in prison later in life for others. Unlike some other hackers, Mr. Mitnick primarily used social engineering techniques rather than algorithmic ‚Äčhacking method to obtain network passwords and other types of access codes.

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The Hannibal Lecter of Computer Crime

Kevin Poulsen (a.k.a, "Dark Dante") secured his place on this list in the early 1980s by breaking into the U.S. Department of Defense networks (ARPANet) from a TRS-80 personal computer. Being only seventeen, Mr. Poulsen wasn't convicted or charged with a crime. Mr. Poulsen eventually spent five years in prison for later criminal offenses related to hacking, including a clever scheme of telephone network re-routing that enabled he and his friends to rig prize giveaway contests at a Los Angeles, CA radio station.

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The Worm Turned Into Tenure

Robert Morris developed the first famous computer worm. Due to certain algorithm choices, the Morris worm caused much more widespread disruption to the Internet than intended, leading to his conviction in 1990 and several years of criminal probation. Since then, however, Mr. Morris has enjoyed a successful academic career as an M.I.T. professor and entrepreneur.

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Brains Behind the First Great Cyber Crime?

In the summer of 1994, a man named Vladimir Levin robbed up to $10 million dollars from Citibank over a dial-up network link halfway across the world. Though eventually convicted and sentenced for this crime, later events suggested that all the technical legwork behind the crime was carried out by others.