The greatest hackers have been known to hack into some of the hardest websites to get into while they’re still only teenagers. They often do this just for fun, curiosity, money, or just to make a point. Hackers have caused billions in damages across the world, and caused major panic as well as annoyance. This is a list of the top 10 hackers.

Gary Mckinnon

Gary Mckinnon was responsible for what was called the biggest computer hack in history. He wanted to gain information of UFO’s and so hacked into NASA’s website. He then shut down their 2000 computers for 24 hours and wrote “your security is crap” on their website to taunt them. What he claims to have found out about UFO’s is shocking. On the website he witnessed pictures of extraterrestrial UFO’s which the government used to cover up aliens. While inside, he read through something called “The Disclosure Project”, which is a collection of over 400 credible testimonials citing the existence of aliens, or alien technology. He only wanted to look up information about free energy suppression and UFO cover-ups.

Adrian Lamo “The Homeless Hacker”

Lamo became famous in 2003 for hacking into several websites including Yahoo!, the New York Times, and Microsoft. He was nicknamed “The Homeless Hacker” by the media, and was responsible for outing Chelsea Manning to the FBI. Chelsea Manning was a hacker who released many important documents about the US government. Lamo has now been institutionalized for mental illness and diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. He was praised by the first website he hacked into, which likely emboldened him do it again, but the next one didn’t go so well. He hacked into the New York Times, perhaps expecting them to praise him as well, instead, they filed a warrant for his arrest. He went into hiding, but eventually was caught. “Anything I could say about my person or my actions would only cheapen what they have to say for themselves”.

Jonathan James

Jonathan James hacked into NASA when he was only 16 years old. This is a monumental feat for someone so young, especially considering NASA is seen as one of the hardest things for someone to hack into. He was the first child to be incarcerated for cybercrime in the United States. He stole defense secrets which are considered to incredibly valuable, and if he were an adult, he likely would have faced around 10 years in prison. NASA had to take desperate measures when he hacked them, and they even shut down the entire system just to stop him. This cost them $47,000.

He committed suicide in 2008 for fear of being convicted for a crime he did not commit. “I, honestly, honestly had nothing to do with TJX,” James wrote in his suicide note, “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”

Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick is the most famous hacker in the world, and seen by many as one of the greatest hackers of all time. The US Department of Justice described as “most wanted computer criminal in U.S. history”. Mitnick compromised databases across America, and then went into hiding for two years just for the fun of it. He had access to credit cards of people from all over America, but never stole a single dollar, he simply enjoyed himself. After eventually getting caught and spending some time in prison, he now works as a security consultant.

Kevin Poulsen

Poulsen, like many of the greatest hackers, used his skills more for fun than anything else. He hacked into a radio station’s phone line just to win a Porsche. He also reactivated the phone numbers of yellow page escorts. After getting caught by the FBI and sent to prison for five years he became a journalist and white hack hacker. He released the names of 744 people attempting to use MySpace to manipulate children into sleeping with them with them. He’s now an editor at Wired, and helped create SecureDrop.

Loyd Blankenship

Loyd Blankenship was part of the Legion of Doom, whose sworn enemy was the hacker group, the Masters of Deception. His online name was The Mentor. The LOD was part of the Great Hacker War, an online battle that took place from 1990 to 1991, against the Masters of Deception. Blankenship wrote “The Conscience of a Hacker”, a philosophical book on the nature of hacking. In it, he claims that a hackers only crime is curiosity. It’s one of the biggest books in hacker philosophy, and still inspires hackers today. He’s been a hacker since of the 1970’s and is one of the most famous hackers around today.


Astra was the name of a Greek hacker, and mathematician who sold millions of dollars of information to people for money. After gaining access to Dassault Group computers who stole information on jet fighters and military aircrafts and sold that information to numerous countries. He cost the company $360 million dollars in damages. After being caught he was sentenced to six years in prison. He was caught in January 2008. His real identity wasn’t revealed to the media. He was caught after Dassault put on a determined manhunt to catch him.

Albert Gonzalez

Albert Gonzalez is responsible for one of the biggest hacks in history. Using his skills, he masterminded a large credit card scheme which stole about $200 million, from 170 million credit cards, and ATM numbers. He did all this in only 2 years, it was the biggest credit card theft in human history, securing him his place as one of the greatest hackers of all time. Eventually he was caught and sent to prison for a total of 20 years. Chat logs revealed that his goal was to gain $15 million, buy a yacht and retire. While committing this scheme he was actually working for the US Secret Service, and earning $75,000 a year.

Sven Jaschan

Jaschan was responsible for 70% of the malware spreading online in 2004. He did this by creating the Netsky and Sasser worms in 2004. After being caught, he served a sentence and now works for a security company, like so many of the greatest hackers do. He confessed to German police when he was arrested in 2004, after a three month investigation. Microsoft had also offered a bounty of $250,000 for information on him. Jaschan confirmed that one of his classmates had tipped off Microsoft to gain the bounty. This was after Jaschan had boasted to him about what he had done.

Michael Calce

Also known as Mafiaboy online, became famous for a series of DDOS attacks on multiple famous websites like, eBay, and Mafiaboy had a troubled childhood, but became fascinated by computers at the age of six. Later in life he initiated operation Rivolta, which aimed to shutdown many websites in order to show his group’s dominance in the cyberworld. However, he claims he only intended to shut down Yahoo!, but accidentally shut down the others while he was at school without even realising. The FBI noticed him bragging about what he had done in chatrooms online, and became especially suspicious when he claimed responsibility for shutting down Dell. It hadn’t been publicised that Dell had been shut down. It’s possible he cost the US $1.2 billion in damages. His sentence was light, because he was only a child.

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