Kevin Mitnick is going to tell his side of the story. And he’s going to get paid for it.
Speaking to an adoring crowd of 800 at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference, Mitnick, once described as the “most wanted computer hacker in the world,” announced that he had signed a deal with Little, Brown and Company to tell his life story. “Finally I get to tell my side,” he said, saying the conditions of his parole kept him from profiting from his crimes — including writing a biography — for the past seven years.
Mitnick was convicted of computer crimes in 1999. At sentencing, prosecutors argued Mitnick should be subject to special treatment while incarcerated because the hacker could “start a nuclear war by whistling into a telephone.” A judge agreed, and Mitnick was sentenced to solitary confinement. The perceived unfairness of the sentence made Mitnick a cause célèbre within the hacker community, and sites like freekevin.com sprang up on the Internet.
Mitnick promised the new book will be a tell-all about his hacking stunts, which relied on his speciality of “social engineering” — hacker-speak for tricks that rely less on technical wizardry and more on duping human beings into giving up information. But Mitnick, who now makes an honest living as a computer security consultant, also enjoys finding holes in software. At HOPE, he showed off his latest hack, which involves scripting the “asterisk” open-source telephony program to show Caller ID information for anyone who calls him, even if that phone’s Caller ID is set to “private.”
Photo: Eric Krangel / Silicon Alley Insider