Kevin Mitnick: The hacker extraordinaire speaks out on security

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InfoWorld: You did the time for the crime that you admitted. What has the
experience taught you?

Mitnick: Don't trust the federal government. It doesn't go over very well. That's
the lesson I learned. They have power and they can do anything they want, and the best
thing to do is to stay out of their hair. Other than that, with respect to hacking, I
encourage it, but only to the point where you don't affect anybody else because there's
a price on systems nowadays. If you can, go buy a desktop computer for probably 500
bucks and run [a program] on it or one of these open-source operating systems, and you
can have the challenge of breaking into a system. The only thing it doesn't give you is
the thrill of being somewhere where you really shouldn't be. Some people will want the
thrill of doing something they shouldn't, and they take the risk. But I wouldn't
encourage this because you can at least get the intellectual challenge portion met by
experimenting on your own systems or even networking your systems with a group of
people. The stakes are much higher [today] because there are so many connected systems,
and one glitch or one hack in one spot can really cause a ton of damage.


InfoWorld: So what are you up to these days? A radio gig?

Mitnick: Yes, with KFI Talk Radio. I'm going to be probably starting that in
January and then also making my living by speaking engagements, but I'm restricted [as
to] where I can travel, so they are far and few between. I'm doing interviews and also
writing articles. I critique computer magazines. I'm learning to be a writer as well.
It's hard to do without a computer. I'm not allowed to use a computer.


InfoWorld: Is that part of the terms of your parole?

Mitnick: I'm on supervised release. It's not parole. It's probation.


InfoWorld: How long does that last?

Mitnick: For another two years.


InfoWorld: So in two more years you're free of all restrictions?

Mitnick: Yes, on January 20th, 2003. Now, the probation department has full
control. They could allow me to do anything. All my conditions are under discretion,
but I have no degree of trust. You know it's easier for them to say no, that way they
cover their ass and they don't have to take risks.


InfoWorld: If you can't use a computer to write, what do you use?

Mitnick: I use an electronic typewriter, and I hire people to help me, and I work
with them over the telephone. My dad has a computer at the office and sometimes he has
his secretary [help] or he will type in things for me.


InfoWorld: When can we expect the autobiography?

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