Hacking: Fun or Criminal Activity?

Hacking is by no means a new phenomenon; it has existed in one form or another since the 1960s. It is only for a portion of the time since then that hacking has been viewed as a crime and a situation that needs to be addressed.

Here’s a look at some famous hacks over time:

  • In 1988, Cornell University student Robert T. Morris, Jr. created what is considered to be the first Internet worm. According to Morris, his worm was designed to count the number of systems connected to the Internet. Because of a design flaw, the worm replicated quickly and indiscriminately, causing widespread slowdowns across the globe. Morris was eventually convicted under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and was sentenced to community service in lieu of any jail time.
  • In 1999, David L. Smith created the Melissa virus, which was designed to e-mail itself to entries in a user’s address book and later delete files on the infected system.
  • In 2001, Jan de Wit authored the Anna Kournikova virus, which was designed to read all the entries of a user’s Outlook address book and e-mail itself out to each.
  • In 2004, Adam Botbyl, together with two friends, conspired to steal credit card information from the Lowe’s hardware chain.
  • In 2005, Cameron LaCroix hacked into the phone of celebrity Paris Hilton and also participated in an attack against the site LexisNexis, an online public record aggregator, ultimately exposing thousands of personal records.
  • In 2010 through the current day, the hacking group Anonymous also has attacked multiple targets, including local government networks, new agencies, and others. The group is still active.
  • In 2011, the hacking group Lulzsec performed several high-profile attacks against targets such as Sony, CNN, and Fox.com. The group still appears to be active from time to time despite their claims of retiring.