1995: Perhaps the most celebrated cracking case in history begins with the arrest of Kevin Mitnick by the FBI on charges of wire fraud and breaking into the computer systems of several major corporations.
The case bestowed upon Mitnick a sort of antihero status while raising the consciousness of hacking and computer security in the general population.
Mitnick already had a long history of fiddling with computer networks and telephone systems before his 1995 arrest. His first hack, if that's what it was, occurred when Mitnick was 12. He reverse-engineered the Los Angeles public transportation transfer system so he could ride the buses for free. His methods became more sophisticated even as the technology evolved, and by the '90s he was snooping through the supposedly secure networks of companies like Sun Microsystems and Motorola.
He was caught after the FBI tracked him to his hideout in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Mitnick pleaded guilty to some charges and served five years in prison (including eight months spent in solitary confinement), then spent two more years in supervised release before all restrictions were lifted.
Since his release in 2000, Mitnick has worked his way back into the "industry," this time as a computer security consultant. It's hard to argue with his résumé. He continues to enjoy his quasi-celebrity status, is sought after as a public speaker and still hangs out with his good buddy, Steve Wozniak. In 2011, he published Ghost in the Wires, a chronicle of his legendary exploits.