Timeline of hacker history

From Academic Kids

This is a timeline of hacker history. Hacking and cracking appeared with the first electronic computers. Below are some important events in the history of hacking and cracking.





  • A woman who goes by the handle Natasha Grigori started out in the early starts running a bulletin-board system for software pirates. Now, at age “40-plus,” she’s the founder of antichildporn.org, a group of hackers who use their skills to track kiddie-porn distributors and pass the information on to law enforcement.
  • 1990Operation Sundevil introduced. After a prolonged sting investigation, Secret Service agents swoop down on organizers and prominent members of BBSs in 14 U.S. cities including the Legion of Doom, conducting early-morning raids and arrests. The arrests involve and are aimed at cracking down on credit-card theft and telephone and wire fraud. The result is a breakdown in the hacking community, with members informing on each other in exchange for immunity. The offices of Steve Jackson Games are also raided, and the role-playing sourcebook GURPS Cyberpunk is confiscated, possibly because the government fears it is a "handbook for computer crime". Legal battles arise that prompt the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • 1990 — LOD and MOD engaged in almost two years of online warfare — jamming phone lines, monitoring calls, trespassing in each other's private computers. Then the Feds cracked down. For Phiber and friends, that meant jail.
  • 1991
    • Rumors circulate about the "Michelangelo" virus, expected to crash computers on March 6, 1992, the artist's 517th birthday. Doomsday passes without incident.
    • Kevin Poulsen is captured and indicted for stealing military documents.
    • resulted in jail sentences for four members of the Masters of Deception. Phiber Optik spent a year in federal prison.
  • 1992 — Release of the movie Sneakers, in which security experts are blackmailed into stealing a universal decoder for encryption systems.
  • 1992 — Hackers break into GAFB, NASA and KARI
  • 1993
    • During radio station call-in contests, hacker-fugitive Kevin Poulsen and two friends rig the stations' phone systems to let only their calls through, and "win" two Porsches, vacation trips, and $20,000. Poulsen, already wanted for breaking into phone-company systems, serves five years in prison for computer and wire fraud.
    • Texas A&M University professor receives death threats because a hacker used his computer to send 20,000 racist e-mails.
    • The first DEF CON hacking conference takes place in Las Vegas. The conference is meant to be a one-time party to say good-bye to BBSs (now replaced by the Web), but the gathering is so popular it becomes an annual event.
  • 1994 summer — Russian crackers siphon $10 million from Citibank and transfer the money to bank accounts around the world. Vladimir Levin, the 30-year-old ringleader, uses his work laptop after hours to transfer the funds to accounts in Finland and Israel. Levin stands trial in the United States and is sentenced to three years in prison. Authorities recover all but $400,000 of the stolen money.
  • 1994 — Hackers adapt to emergence of the World Wide Web quickly, moving all their how-to information and hacking programs from the old BBSs to new hacker Web sites.
  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
    • Software Security Goes Mainstream In the wake of Microsoft's Windows 98 release, 1999 becomes a banner year for security (and hacking). Hundreds of advisories and patches are released in response to newfound (and widely publicized) bugs in Windows and other commercial software products. A host of security software vendors release anti-hacking products for use on home computers.
    • The Electronic Civil Disobedience project, an online political performance-art group, attacks the Pentagon calling it conceptual art. It said it was protesting U.S. support of the Mexican suppression of rebels in southern Mexico. Carmin Karasic, helped write FloodNet, the tool used by ECD to bombard its opponents with access requests in a symbolic, harmless version of the denial-of-service attacks that took down CNN and Yahoo.
    • Classified computer systems at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, come under attack from a number of locations around the world, but the attacks were detected and stopped by newly developed Defense Department systems.
    • U.S. Information Agency Web site is hacked for the second time in six months. The hacker circumvented the agency's Internet security and damaged the hard drive, leaving behind the message "Crystal, I love you" and the signature "Zyklon."
    • Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, says Defense Department computers are under a "coordinated, organized" attack from hackers. "You can basically say we are at war," he said.
    • U.S. President Bill Clinton announces a $1.46 billion initiative to improve government computer security. The plan would establish a network of intrusion detection monitors for certain federal agencies and encourage the private sector to do the same.
    • Kevin Mitnick, detained since 1995 on charges of computer fraud, signs plea agreement.
    • March: The Melissa worm is released and quickly becomes the most costly malware outbreak to date.
    • April: The U.S. Justice Department declines to prosecute former CIA Director John Deutch for keeping 31 secret files on his home computer after he left office in 1996.
    • October: American Express introduces the "Blue" smart card, the industry's first chip-based credit card in the US.
    • "Unidentified hackers seized control of a British military communication satellite and demanded money in return for control of the satellite
    • December: David L. Smith pleads guilty to creating and releasing the Melissa virus. It's one of the first times a person is prosecuted for writing a virus.


Jennifer Grannick is an in-demand lawyer who explains hackers’ rights to them at conventions.

  • A 19-year-old Midwestern law student who calls herself ViXen900 is a member of the HNC hackers’ group and advises them on legal issues.
  • Kevin Mitnick is released from prison


  • Microsoft becomes the prominent victim of a new type of crack that attacks the domain name server. In these denial-of-service attacks, the DNS paths that take users to Microsoft's Web sites are corrupted. The hack is detected within a few hours, but prevents millions of users from reaching Microsoft Web pages for two days.
  • February — A Dutch cracker releases the Anna Kournikova virus, initiating a wave of viruses that tempts users to open the infected attachment by promising a sexy picture of the Russian tennis star.
  • March — FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen is charged with using his computer skills and FBI access to spy for the Russians.
  • March — The L10n worm is discovered in the wild attacking older versions of BIND DNS.
  • April — FBI agents trick two Russian crackers into coming to the U.S. and revealing how they were cracking U.S. banks.
  • May
    • Spurred by elevated tensions in Sino-American diplomatic relations, U.S. and Chinese hackers engage in skirmishes of Web defacements that many dub "The Sixth Cyberwar".
    • Crackers begin using "pulsing" zombies, a new DDoS method that has zombie machines send random pings to targets rather than flooding them, making it hard to stop attacks.
    • AV experts identify Sadmind, a new cross-platform worm that uses compromised Sun Solaris boxes to attack Windows NT servers.
  • July — Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov is arrested at the annual Def Con hacker convention. He is the first person criminally charged with violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
  • August — Code Red, the first polymorphic worm, infects tens of thousands of machines.
  • September — The World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks spark lawmakers to pass a barrage of anti terrorism laws many of which group Hackers as terrorists. and remove many long standing personal freedoms in the name of safety.
  • September — Nimda, a new memory-only worm, wreaks havoc on the Internet, quickly eclipsing Code Red's infection rate and recovery cost.
  • November — Microsoft and its allies vow to end "full disclosure" of security vulnerabilities by replacing it with "responsible" disclosure guidelines.
  • November — The European Union adopts the controversial cybercrime treaty, which makes the possession and use of hacking tools illegal.





  • December — Brian Salcedo sentenced to 9 years in prison for his involvement in hacking into the corporate systems of Lowe's home improvement stores and attempting to steal customer credit card information. The sentence far exceeds the 5 1/2 years that hacker Kevin Mitnick spent behind bars. Prosecutors said the three men tapped into the wireless network of a Lowe's store in Southfield, Mich., used that connection to enter the chain's central computer system in North Wilkesboro, N.C., and installed a program to capture credit card information. No data was actually collected however.

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