The godfather of computer hackers, Kevin Mitnick, can't say it often enough: social engineering is the easiest way to hack into computer networks. Simply put: why crack the security code if you can ask an employee to give up his password?
"What you can find in the trash is simply amazing," Mitnick said at a convention in Australia, according to Cnet. "People throw out notes, drafts of letters, printouts of source code, printouts of project documentation they're working on. In some cases they even write down passwords and access information, or calendars that list every person that person has talked to or met with."
Mitnick became an instant celebrity after het allegedly hacked into the North American Defense Command (NORAD), a feat that inspired the 1983 film War Games. The hacker allegedly was able to start nuclear holocaust simply by whistling into a telephone.
No proof was ever presented linking Mitnick to the NORAD hack. But when authorities finally caught him in 1988, they locked him up in solitary confinement. Can't have missiles flying around now, can we?
Mitnick gets out after his lawyer pleads that the 25-year old is addicted to computers. When the hacker is caught again in 1995, he finally pleads guilty and is released in 2000. He wasn't allowed to physically touch a computer until 2003 and can't sell his story through book or movie deals until 2007.
Mitnick currently works as a consultant for Defensive Thinking, a company he co-founded that helps companies to protect themselves against social engineering attacks.
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