Photo: via azillionmonkeys
Many big name companies have started snatching up hackers to try to develop their talents for safe and legal use. These hackers often get notoriety by hacking the systems of big name companies like Apple, Google, or Microsoft.
Either way, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest hackers who got recruited by big name companies.
Chris Putnam built some annoying worm-like pranks that spread like wildfire from Facebook profile to Facebook profile. He was a student at Georgia Southern University looking for something fun to do.
He also built a hack that made Facebook profiles look like horrible MySpace profiles when you'd view an infected profile.
Dustin Moskovitz at Facebook contacted Putnam with a friendly, but slightly peeved tone. They continued talking for a month or so. Before he knew it, Putnam was in an interview with Moskovitz and was offered a job.
Michael Mooney was a 17-year-old Brooklyn high school senior when he wreaked a bit of havoc on Twitter in April of 2009.
Twitter had to fix more than 200 infected accounts and delete 10,000 tweets because of the spam-inducing worms Mooney created called 'Mikeyy' and 'StalkDaily.'
Mooney did it to 'get his name out there,' and was subsequently contacted by a few companies regarding a job. He accepted an offer at exqSoft Solutions, a web app development company.
Owen Thor Walker helped an online hacker gang steal $20 million from over 1.3 million computers around the world.
He did it by skimming money off the top of bank accounts and by infiltrating damaged computer systems. He pleaded guilty to the charges at age 18, but they were dismissed after he forfeited all the money he earned by helping the hacker gang. (And paying a fine.)
After the incident, Walker was hired as a security consultant for TelstraClear, a New Zealand telecom, and even participated in an advertising campaign for them.
Ashley Towns was a 21 year old student when he built the first ever iPhone worm, a non-malicious program that changes a jailbroken iPhone user's wallpaper to an image of Rick Astley, the 80s pop star.
It spread to nearby jailbroken iPhones in a similar way. Towns' hack inspired a more malicious worm that uses the same exploit to steal bank account information.
Towns (pictured at right) was hired by Australian digital publishing firm Mogeneration.
Jon Lech Johansen, more commonly known as 'DVD Jon,' rose to fame because of his work on DeCSS, an encryption cracker that pissed off Hollywood.
He has also come up with numerous hacks for iTunes and Windows Media Player that have earned him attention.
Famous tech entrepreneur Michael Robertson, who built MP3.com offered him a job working on a new digital music initiative because Johansen's 'skill set would work perfectly.'
Peter Hajas, a well known developer/hacker for jailbroken iOS devices, was just hired by Apple. He didn't cause any trouble, however.
He caught their attention after developing MobileNotifier, an incredible jailbreak tweak that fixed notifications and made them unobtrusive.
Sven Jaschan created the NetSky virus at age 18, and was hired by German security company Securepoint
Sophos, the anti-virus software maker, claimed that Jaschan's NetSky virus accounted for 70% of computer infections they heard about in the first half of 2004.
The virus was so prevalent that Microsoft put up a bounty of $250,000 for anyone who could identify the virus's creator.
Jaschan was publicly accused of creating the virus in August of 2004, and while he was awaiting trial, was hired by big German security firm Securepoint.
Adrian Lamo gained notoriety for breaking into the New York Times, Yahoo, and Microsoft, then he uncovered a WikiLeaks leaker
Lamo hacked The New York Times in 2002 to do research using the company's LexisNexis database. They hunted the culprit for over a year, and finally figured out it was him.
He was sentenced to six months detention at his parents' home, two years probation after that, and $65,000 in restitution.
In June 2010, Lamo told the US government that Bradley Manning leaked 260,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Forbes speculated in August of 2010 that Lamo operated as a security specialist on a top secret government program that worked with the FBI and NSA. Chet Uber, the director of Project Vigilant, said he reached out to Lamo and asked him to help find the source of a video published on WikiLeaks.
Frank Abagnale is the man the film 'Catch Me If You Can' is based on.
Abagnale forged $2.5 billion in checks over the course of five years across 26 countries. He assumed eight separate identities, such as that of a doctor, lawyer, and even as an airline pilot.
He was finally caught, and served almost five years in prison before the US government bailed him out to work in its security fraud department.
Abagnale later became a millionaire by starting his own security consulting firm, Abagnale & Associates. He continues to aid the FBI today.
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