Top 10 Best Ever Hackers

Next Story

Microsoft opens up the floodgates for indie development

The good computer hackers are similar to war veterans in that they spend hours talking about how great the scene used to be “back in the day”. I first heard similar stories way back in 1995 but today it is actually somewhat true as the final HOPE conference has now been held, Black Hat is now a corporate event, the good e-zines are long gone and hacking is now associated with Russian crime gangs.

Now is a good time to go back and list the top 10 hackers who shaped both the computer and security industries and who have left their mark.

1. Shawn Fanning – What was once an IRC handle became synonymous with the free exchange of music files. Along with Jordan Ritter and Shaun Parker changed the music industry forever and set the course for the next decade of online media. Managed to turn a cool rock metal band into a bunch of whining babies and had his high moment when he appeared on the MTV music awards wearing a Metallic t-shirt. ADM were also the best and most consistent group ever (wikipedia).

2. Robert Morris – Discovered the buffer overflow and exploited both sendmail and fingerd with the first ever internet worm – now known as the Morris Worm. Went on to become a co-founder of ViaWeb with Paul Graham. Downside is that his story was responsible for Dade Murphy and the Gibson OS, but it also bought us Angelina Jolie. (wikipedia)

3. VallaH – jolt.c and the ping-of-death kept kids around the world amused for years and big corporations on their knees. The first smart denial-of-service attack.

4. Gordon Lyon / Fyodor – Created Nmap, the
first tool in every hackers arsenal that has since gone on to make cameo appearances in both The Matrix and the Bourne Ultimatum. Nmap pioneered OS and service fingerprinting. Also behind (wikipedia)

5. Kevin Mitnick – Most famous real-life hacker who could have used a few tips on how cellular triangulation works. Imprisoned by the government without charge for years and restricted with a gag order thereafter. FREE KEVIN became a hacker freedom call for years. (wikipedia)

6. The Mentor – Wrote the Hacker Manifesto which was published in Phrack magazine. Inspired kids worldwide to hack to learn (myself included). Phrack magazine deserves a mention as it was the best and most consistant e-zine in the past two decades. Ran for 65 issues until 2005.

7. Karl Koch / August Diehl – German hacker in the 80s who drove himself insane with cocaine abuse, obsession over the number 23 and paranoia over the Illuminatus. (wikipedia)

8. Electron / Richard Jones – Aussie kid who wrecked havoc all over the world with nothing more than a modem. Arrested by the Australian Federal Police in 1990. Went on to become a security researcher and consultant.

9. Kevin Poulson / Dark Dante – Phreaked his way to a new Porsche with a radio contest on an LA station. Arrested and jailed and went on to become a journalist and editor at Wired. (wikipedia)

10. Adrian Lamo – showed the world (literally) that you can take down large websites with just URLs (such as Worldcom). Now also a journalist. (wikipedia)

What is amazing is just how many of the same guys who used to sit on IRC day and night discovering security holes and breaking into servers for fun ended up shaping and influencing the IT industry as a whole. There are hundreds of thousands of hackers who you have never heard about, mostly because they never got caught, who went on to start companies and attain high positions within corporations.

  • Ryan Collins

    The wikipedia for Robert Morris is wrong. It should point to the page about Robert Tappan Morris, not Robet Morris, which doesn’t exist.

  • Adrian Lamo

    I created an appropriate redirect on Wikipedia, so that the b0rken link for RTM within this article will work for now.

    • Abruzzi

      Hello there..This actually goes to any hacker in this room..Please i need your help..Its urgent and i know if you are in my shoes you will ask for help also.Hope to read from you.
      my email is —

  • Nik Cubrilovic

    Thanks Ryan

    Hey Adrian!

    • razor stone

      i fuck top hacker when i became a hacker not for hacker antihacker also i fuck u u suck me

  • Some Guy

    There are maybe two or three actual hackers on this list.

  • Sebastian

    6. to learn to hack.
    thanks for the history lesson, all I know about hacking comes from watching War Games

  • Steve

    I hate to detract from the gravitas of the sentiment, but Emmanuel did mention in the closing ceremonies that there’ll be a “The Next HOPE” in 2010–but I’ll certainly agree that we cannot allow the Hacking Gap with Asia to widen.

  • Loyd Blankenship

    Woot! I’m #6. :) In all seriousness, thanks, and especially thanks for giving Phrack a shoutout. It was a great publication, and I was always honored to be in it.

  • Top 10 Best Ever Hackers « Toplists

    […] is a good time to go back and list the top 10 hackers who shaped both the computer and security industries and who have left their […]

  • Best Hackers Ever

    […] on Friendfeed as google shared item. And I must admit I very much liked the hacker collection from TechCrunchIt that Louis shared. I use to be Kevin Mitnick’s fan back in 2000 which lead me to start […]

  • Live crunch

    I liked your collection, even wrote about it my self on todays blog post. Anyways I was wondering where you are from Nik, sounds to me like Nikola but I might be wrong.

  • Brian

    This post is rife with grammatical and spelling errors. Get your life together.

  • Nik Cubrilovic

    Anyone know what ended up happening with ADM and w00w00? I found an archive online but not much else. I dropped of IRC in ’01

    @10 Ye its Nikola

  • WinExtra » From the Pipeline – 7.23.08

    […] Top 10 Best Ever Hackers [nw] :: TechCrunchIT – like most lists this one has some obvious flaws but still fun to look through anyway […]

  • Daily Digest | Get A New Browser

    […] Top 10 Best Ever Hackers Now is a good time to go back and list the top 10 hackers who shaped both the computer and security industries and who have left their mark. (tags: hackers history) […]

  • kilo

    isn’t this a list of top 10 cracker-likes, not hackers … ? eric raymond is going to flame you to a crisp for abusing the work ….
    now, sventek was a hacker …

  • kilo

    ‘word’ i meant , not ‘work’

  • pier0

    What about Gary McKinnon ?

  • ax0n

    I concur with the statement that there are maybe two or three names that belong on this list. Most of them are “hackers” but Top Ten material? No. By the way, nmap initially used OS fingerprinting based on a tool called QueSO (Que Sistema Operativo?) or “What Operating System?” written by someone (or group?) in Mexico.

    I could pick the list apart, but I’m too lazy. Plus “best ever hackers” is pretty vague, simply because “hacker” means so many things.

    • AlwaysInC

      “I could pick the list apart, but I’m too lazy….”

      @ax0n your too lazy but you decided to write two paragraphs anyway? being lazy is not even bothering to finish the damn sentence like, maybe you don’t know what the …

  • Feeds mobile edition

    […] Arrington’s TechCrunchIT is a little bit closer (though I still take issue with its ridiculous “10 best ever hackers” piece) but notice how little Arrington writes for it? As for iJustine aka Justine Ezarik, she’s […]

  • Scott Diedrichs

    Hi there,

    I am urgently trying to get in contact with Nik Cubrilovic.

    Can someone help me with an email address or contact number?


  • Leslie V
  • mithilesh pandey

    hi big brother u verry creative it man……………….

  • HaCkER.9


  • raj

    hiee..i think u hav so much quality so u just sit on the chair and im sitting now in cybercafe.actually i hav some problem.would u like to tell me that how can i hack the orkut id or how can i got the password of any orkut and yahoo id.plz help me…..

  • raj kumar

    plz tell me how doing hacking

blog comments powered by Disqus