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Black hat hackers are people who are both respected and feared. They are "the bad guys" that exploit weaknesses in coding, wreak havoc, and just do whatever they want simply because they can.
They are people who can upend major businesses, cause billions of dollars in loss, and easily ruin lives if they choose to do so on a whim. Over the years, there have been many people who have made international headlines with their hacking skills.
Over the years, many black hat hackers have tried to show their skills. Many of them actively try to become legendary hackers, or do this as a way to get offered a cybersecurity job by an elite company like Google.
However, only a select few can really call themselves one of the best black hat hackers in the world. The guys below made history, and definitely proved their skills with insane stunts.
Without a doubt, one of the best black hat hackers to ever hit the tech world. He was, at one point, the most wanted cybercriminal in the world—and still remains one of the most notorious in hacking history. He's even been featured in documentaries about hacking because of how smart he is.
Kevin Mitnick's crimes included stealing secrets from major companies like IBM and Motorola, and even hacking into the National Defense warning system. He spent two stints in jail, but that need to hack never quite went away.
Thankfully for all of us, he ended up turning a new leaf. Kevin Mitnick currently works as a white hat hacker and advises others on how to further beef up their cybersecurity.
Richard Pryce and Matthew Bevan
Believe it or not, these two were only 21 and 17 when they became known as two of the best black hat hackers in the world. They had a bunch of capers that made them wanted criminals—including hacking into multiple US military computers.
However, it was the fact that they launched a cyberattack on North Korea that really landed them on the map. To date, no other hackers almost started a war the way they did.
Vladimir Levin was a Russian hacker who was a Russian hacker before it was cool. In 1994, this tech genius was able to break into several of Citibank's largest corporate accounts and stole 10.7 million dollars... all using a cheap dial-up connection out in the middle of Saint Petersburg.
He spent three years in prison and became known as one of the best black hat hackers to ever live. However, his title might not actually be valid; a group of anonymous hackers came forth and claimed they did the work for the break-in.
Michael Calce (MafiaBoy)
Canadian hacker extraordinare Michael Calce became a legend among hackers after he spearheaded Project Rivolta, a high-profile series of DDOS attacks. This series of attacks targeted major sites like Yahoo, CNN, eBay, and FIFA—just to name a few.
He was in high school at the time of the attacks, which meant that he became one of the best black hat hackers in history before he was even old enough to be tried as an adult.
We can't have a list of the best black hat hackers in the world without involving Gary Mckinnon at one point or another. He shattered records for the most numbers of government computer break-ins by a single hacker.
During his capers as "Solo," he got into over 2,000 US Armed Forces computers as well as a number of NASA computers. Within 24 hours of breaking in to a computer shortly after 9/11, he'd delete critical logs and caused over $700,000 in damage. You could say that his records were astronomically high, eh?
Another must-mention on any list of the best black hat hackers in history is Adrian Lamo, also known as the homeless hacker. While he was out on the streets, he'd break into high-profile computer networks like The New York Times and Yahoo.
Once he would get in, he would often tinker around for his enjoyment. For example, he made headlines after he added himself to the New York Times' list of experts. However, these days he turned white hat and now is equally famous for telling authorities who was behind the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike Wikileaks video leak.
When asked why he did the stuff he did, Johnathan James said, "I was just looking around, playing around. What was fun for me was a challenge to see what I could pull off."
How humble it seems, considering that Johnathan James ended up cementing his reputation as one of the best black hat hackers in the world at only 16 years of age. His list of black hat stunts include targeted attacks on NASA, the Department of Defense, and also stealing software worth $1.7 million.
At 25, this brilliant man's life was cut tragically short after he committed suicide out of fear of being prosecuted for crimes he did not commit.
In the 80s, there were few people who could be more notorious for being one of the best black hat hackers in the world like Kevin Poulsen. Known for being "the Hannibal Lecter of Hacking," Poulsen's claim to fame was his hacking of LA radio’s KIIS-FM phone lines.
After being the kind of stuff that hacker movies are made of, Kevin ended up becoming a white hat hacker... and now he's a senior editor for Wired. Who'd have guessed?
No one really knows who Astra is—at least, not publicly. The 58-year-old Greek hacker became wanted by Interpol after he broke into the Salt Group's computers and stole weapons technology data that he later sold to buyers all over the world.
He made $361 million, but was eventually traced and caught. Even so, Astra remains one of the best black hat hackers to pull off such a heist.
Jeanson James Ancheta
If you've ever heard of a botnet attack, then you'll understand why Jeanson James Ancheta is one of the best black hat hackers to ever live. He was the first, if not one of the first, to use these in an attack.
At the height of his attack, he had control of over 500,000 computers using his botnet—including a number of military computers. He ended up serving five years in prison, and had to pay $58,000 in fees.