Kevin Mitnick is a liar. In fact, he wrote the book on lying (well, a book on lying, called The Art of Deception). I’m not trying to call his character into question, but the fact should be noted. In his younger days, Mitnick’s obsession with exploring telephone and computer systems allowed him to maintain a very casual relationship with the truth, one that found him impersonating cops and telephone company employees alike. His hacking was always more than just knowing his way around an operating system and exploiting security vulnerabilities — he could think on his feet and weave fictions out of thin air, which made him a natural “social engineer.” He probably spent as much time on the phone talking telephone companies and state agencies out of sensitive information as he did behind the keyboard, exploiting vulnerabilities in software.
While we can’t be certain of the extent of his exploits, an approximate list could include: breaking into computer systems owned by Sun Microsystems, DEC, NEC, Motorola, and Nokia; getting his hands on documents relating to Pacific Bell’s SAS (Switch Access Services, which could be used to wiretap phone lines); and of course a number of crimes related to his being a fugitive (including identity theft). Mitnick has always maintained that he never profited from his crimes — and there is no proof that he ever did. So how did he become “the most dangerous hacker in America?”