Kevin Mitnick: Phone Phreak, Social Engineer

Kevin Mitnick gained notoriety following his arrest in early 1995 after a nationwide pursuit. People are familiar with Mitnick as a computer hacker who gained unauthorized entry into networks at Sun Microsystems, Nokia, NEC, Fujitsu Siemens among others. In 1982, Mitnick first received national attention for breaking into NORAD computers, which helped inspire the 1983 film “WarGames” The former hacker, turned computer security consultant, however, also had a career as a phone phreak and plied his social engineering skills. Phone phreaking was in fact Mitnick’s first fascination, it’s the act of gaining unauthorized access to a telecom network. Blue boxes were often used to gain access. “Blue boxes use a 2600hz tone to size control of telephone switches…The caller may then access special switch functions, with the usual purpose of making free long distance phone calls, using the tones provided by the Blue Box.”Mitnick alleges Jobs and Wozniak of Apple fame used to make the boxes.

Less familiar to the public, Kevin would supplement his technical skills by engaging in a little social engineering to dupe unwitting targets out of passwords or other useful information. Mitnick is credited with popularizing this technique. While having gone legit, Mitnick remains a star in the hacking community. Mitnick’s pure compulsive love for the pursuit of unauthorized network access and his subsequent prosecution, are possibly the reasons for his cult status. You can get to know his saga better in a video, “Freedom Downtime – the Story of Kevin MitnickYou can read Mitnick’s tale for free in a co-authored book, “The Art of Deception“. A CNBC interview of Kevin is available here. It’s still as fascinating a story as ever about one of the world’s most famous hackers!

Leave a Reply