Kevin David Mitnick (born on August 6, 1963) is an American computer security consultant, author, convicted criminal, and hacker. In the late 20th century, he was convicted of various computer and communications-related crimes. At the time of his arrest, he was the most-wanted computer criminal in the United States.
Mitnick grew up in Los Angeles and attended James Monroe High School. He was enrolled at Los Angeles Pierce College and USC. He worked as a receptionist for Stephen S. Wise Temple for a while. He now runs a security firm named Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC that helps test a company’s security strengths and weaknesses.
After a well-publicized pursuit, the FBI arrested Mitnick on February 15, 1995, at his apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina, on federal offenses related to a 2½-year period of computer hacking.
In 1999, Mitnick confessed to four counts of wire fraud, two counts of computer fraud and one count of illegally intercepting a wire communication, as part of a plea agreement before the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison plus 22 months for violating the terms of his 1989 supervised release sentence for computer fraud. He admitted to violating the terms of supervised release by hacking into PacBell voicemail and other systems and to associating with known computer hackers, in this case co-defendant Lewis De Payne.
Mitnick served five years in prison — four and a half years pre-trial and eight months in solitary confinement — because, according to Mitnick, law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to “start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone”. He was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was initially forbidden to use any communications technology other than a landline telephone. Mitnick fought this decision in court, eventually winning a ruling in his favor, allowing him to access the Internet. Under the plea deal, Mitnick was also prohibited from profiting from films or books based on his criminal activity for seven years. Mitnick now runs Mitnick Security Consulting LLC, a computer security consultancy.