5. Gary McKinnon
Okay, so far we’ve been talking mainly about funny or just flat-out awesome hacks that have occurred over the years. Now it’s time to get into the really scary stuff. You know, like the national security, almost starting wars type of stuff.
For instance, let’s talk about Gary McKinnon, who somehow managed to get inside the Pentagon’s computer system and steal 24,000 classified files. Yes, you read that right. He hacked into the Pentagon and stole secret files. Thousands upon thousands of secret American military files. At one point, before McKinnon was outed as the culprit, it was believed that a foreign government or maybe even a terrorist group stole the files, which definitely helped Americans sleep at night.
4. North Korea’s Twitter
You always hear about someone’s Twitter account being hacked, mainly after a celebrity “accidentally” fires off a nude photo or a horribly racist tweet, or something along those lines. But just in case you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s not just a place for celebrities and wannabe comedians and writers. Governments around the world use Twitter as a resource, including North Korea. And, just like the celebrities that Kim Jong Un and his late father seemed to enjoy so much, their official Twitter account was hacked, along with their Flickr account.
Unfortunately for Kim Jong Il, this wasn’t just a hack lightly mocking the diminutive dictator for his crazy hair or love of basketball. No, whoever hacked into the Twitter feed called for a full-on uprising against the government. To make things even better, it was right around this time that the nation’s YouTube channel was hacked with a cartoon of Kim Jong Un running people over in a sports car. Which, frankly, sounds like the greatest cartoon of all-time and we’re a little disappointed that Adult Swim hasn’t taken the idea and run with it.
3. Mathew Bevan and Richard Pryce
Mathew Bevan and Richard Pryce were two young Welshmen who, in 1996, were doing what a lot of guys their age were doing, like nearly starting World War III. Wait, you mean no one does that for kicks? Well, how about if they do it because they are trying to prove a UFO conspiracy theory?
As it turns out, that’s apparently what happened here in the mid-1990’s, when Bevan hacked Griffiss Air Force Base in New York, in order to find evidence the there are aliens and the government is hiding them from us. The hack was detected, but no one knew who was doing it or what the purpose actually was, so naturally there was panic. After all, some foreign entity was discovered sniffing around inside an official US military computer network. That’s going to raise some eyebrows, like those of Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent Jim Christy, who made that famous claim that these two Brits nearly started a new World War.
2. Lulz Security
Okay, so even if it has been shown that places like the Pentagon and assorted military bases can be hacked, certainly no one would be able to hack into the Central Intelligence Agency, right? Seriously, if there is any organization that should be able to avoid such a thing, it has to be the CIA. Right? Okay, so maybe not. In 2011, the website of the CIA was hacked and brought down by a group called Lulz Security. We can only hope they were looking for any secret files about whether or not their cats could haz cheezburger.
Fortunately for the sake of, you know, national security, the hackers were unable to actually collect any data and were basically just showing off and saying yes, even the mighty CIA can be hacked. Lulz Security has not limited its hacking to just the CIA, though. They have also apparently been linked to attacks on the Senate, News Corp, and PBS, because we guess they decided Big Bird needed to be taken down a peg or two.
1. Julian Assange
And finally we come to the most well-known and infamous hacker of all: Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks. While WikiLeaks claims to release information simply from inside, anonymous sources, Assange has a long history as a hacker from his days as a teenager, and he’s been a headache for governments around the world due to his releasing of classified information into the public domain.
Assange is considered such a danger to the United States in particular, that any military personnel who makes contact with him will be considered friends with “the enemy.” You know you’ve really made it as an international hacker and all-around troublemaker when the United States has officially dubbed you an enemy. Of course, he’s also set to be played by Benedict Cumberbatch in an upcoming movie, so overall we have to consider his efforts with WikiLeaks a pretty massive win for the dude.
Jeff Kelly can be found on Twitter (@jekelish) in case you’re ever tired of watching the North Korea feed for updates.