Timeline of computer security hacker history

This is a timeline of computer security hacker history. Hacking and system cracking appeared with the first electronic computers. Below are some important events in the history of hacking and cracking.






  • The 414s break into 60 computer systems at institutions ranging from the Los Alamos Laboratories to Manhattan's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The incident appeared as the cover story of Newsweek with the title Beware: Hackers at play, possibly the first mass-media use of the term hacker in the context of computer security. As a result, the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings on computer security and passed several laws .


  • The group KILOBAUD is formed in February, kicking off a series of other hacker groups which form soon after.
  • The movie WarGames introduces the wider public to the phenomenon of hacking and creates a degree of mass paranoia of hackers and their supposed abilities to bring the world to a screeching halt by launching nuclear ICBM's.
  • The 414s are caught and investigated by the FBI. Although most members are not charged with a crime, they gain widespread media attention, eventually becoming a cover story of Newsweek entitled "Beware: Hackers at play".
  • The U.S. House of Representatives begins hearings on computer security hacking.
  • In his Turing Award lecture, Ken Thompson mentions "hacking" and describes a security exploit that he calls a "Trojan horse".




  • After more and more break-ins to government and corporate computers, Congress passes the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which makes it a crime to break into computer systems. The law, however, does not cover juveniles.
  • Arrest of a hacker who calls himself The Mentor. He published a now-famous treatise shortly after his arrest that came to be known as the Hacker's Manifesto in the e-zine entitled Phrack. This still serves as the most famous piece of hacker literature and is frequently used to illustrate the mindset of hackers.
  • Astronomer Clifford Stoll plays a pivotal role in tracking down hacker Markus Hess, events later covered in Stoll's 1990 book The Cuckoo's Egg.






  • Operation Sundevil introduced. After a prolonged sting investigation, Secret Service agents swoop down on organizers and prominent members of BBSs in 14 U.S. cities including the Legion of Doom, conducting early-morning raids and arrests. The arrests involve and are aimed at cracking down on credit-card theft and telephone and wire fraud. The result is a breakdown in the hacking community, with members informing on each other in exchange for immunity. The offices of Steve Jackson Games are also raided, and the role-playing sourcebook GURPS Cyberpunk is confiscated, possibly because the government fears it is a "handbook for computer crime". Legal battles arise that prompt the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, including the trial of Knight Lightning.
  • Australian federal police tracking Realm members Phoenix, Electron and Nom are the first in the world to use a remote data intercept to gain evidence for a computer crime prosecution.



  • The first DEF CON hacking conference takes place in Las Vegas. The conference is meant to be a one-time party to say good-bye to BBSs (now replaced by the Web), but the gathering is so popular it becomes an annual event.
  • AOL gives its users access to USENET, precipitating Eternal September.


  • Summer: Russian crackers siphon $10 million from Citibank and transfer the money to bank accounts around the world. Vladimir Levin, the 30-year-old ringleader, uses his work laptop after hours to transfer the funds to accounts in Finland and Israel. Levin stands trial in the United States and is sentenced to three years in prison. Authorities recover all but $400,000 of the stolen money.
  • Hackers adapt to emergence of the World Wide Web quickly, moving all their how-to information and hacking programs from the old BBSs to new hacker Web sites.
  • AOHell is released, a freeware application that allows a burgeoning community of unskilled script kiddies to wreak havoc on America Online. For days, hundreds of thousands of AOL users find their mailboxes flooded with multi-megabyte email bombs and their chat rooms disrupted with spam messages.




  • A 15-year-old Croatian youth penetrates computers at a U.S. Air Force base in Guam
  • December: Information Security publishes first issue.
  • First high-profile attacks on Microsoft's Windows NT operating system
  • In response to the MP3 popularity, the Recording Industry Association of America begins cracking down on FTPs The RIAA begins a campaign of lawsuits shutting down many of the owners of these sites including the more popular ripper/distributors The Maxx (Germany, Age 14), Chapel976 (USA, Age 15), Bulletboy (UK, Age 16), Sn4rf (Canada, Age 14) and others in their young teens via their ISPs. Their houses are raided and their computers and modems are taken. The RIAA fails to cut off the head of the MP3 beast and within a year and a half, Napster is released.





  • May: The ILOVEYOU worm, also known as VBS/Loveletter and Love Bug worm, is a computer worm written in VBScript. It infected millions of computers worldwide within a few hours of its release. It is considered to be one of the most damaging worms ever.


  • Microsoft becomes the prominent victim of a new type of hack that attacks the domain name server. In these denial-of-service attacks, the DNS paths that take users to Microsoft's Web sites are corrupted.
  • February: A Dutch cracker releases the Anna Kournikova virus, initiating a wave of viruses that tempts users to open the infected attachment by promising a sexy picture of the Russian tennis star.
  • April: FBI agents trick two into coming to the U.S. and revealing how they were Hacking U.S. banks
  • May:
  • July: Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov is arrested at the annual Def Con hacker convention. He is the first person criminally charged with violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
  • August: Code Red worm, infects tens of thousands of machines.






  • January: One of the few worms to take after the old form of malware, destruction of data rather than the accumulation of zombie networks to launch attacks from, is discovered. It had various names, including Kama Sutra (used by most media reports), Black Worm, Mywife, Blackmal, Nyxem version D, Kapser, KillAV, Grew and CME-24. The worm would spread through e-mail client address books, and would search for documents and fill them with garbage, instead of deleting them to confuse the user. It would also hit a web page counter when it took control, allowing the programmer who created it as well as the world to track the progress of the worm. It would replace documents with random garbage on the third of every month. It was hyped by the media but actually affected relatively few computers, and was not a real threat for most users.
  • February: Direct-to-video film The Net 2.0 is released, as a sequel to The Net, following the same plotline, but with updated technology used in the film, using different characters, and different complications. The director of The Net 2.0, Charles Winkler, is son of Irwin Winkler, the director of The Net.
  • May: Jeanson James Ancheta receives a 57 month prison sentence, and is ordered to pay damages amounting to $15,000.00 to the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake and the Defense Information Systems Agency, for damage done due to DDoS attacks and hacking. Ancheta also had to forfeit his gains to the government, which include $60,000 in cash, a BMW, and computer equipment
  • May: Largest Defacement in Web History is performed by the Turkish hacker iSKORPiTX who successfully hacked 21,549 websites in one shot.
  • September: Viodentia releases FairUse4WM tool which would remove DRM information off WMA music downloaded from music services such as Yahoo Unlimited, Napster, Rhapsody Music and Urge.
  • October: Jesus Oquendo releases Asteroid, a SIP Denial of Service testing tool. It broke all versions of Asterisk until 1.2.13. Asteroid is also known to affect certain SIP Softphones, SIP Phones and possibly other products using the SIP protocol. It was used in Henning Schulzrinne's Columbia University seminars. See MITRE CVE-2006-5444 and CVE-2006-5445


  • May 17: Estonia recovers from massive denial-of-service attack
  • June 13: FBI Operation Bot Roast finds over 1 million botnet victims
  • June 21: A spear phishing incident at the Office of the Secretary of Defense steals sensitive U.S. defense information, leading to significant changes in identity and message-source verification at OSD.
  • August 11: United Nations website hacked by Turkish Hacker Kerem125
  • October 7: Trend Micro website successfully hacked by Turkish hacker Janizary(a.k.a Utku)
  • November 29: FBI FBI Operation Bot Roast II: 1 million infected PCs, $20 million in losses and 8 indictments


  • January 18: Project Chanology Anon attacks Scientology website servers around the world. Private documents are stolen from Scientology computers and distributed over the Internet
  • March 7: 20-something Chinese hackers claim to have gained access to the world's most sensitive sites, including The Pentagon. They operate from a bare apartment on a Chinese island.

See also


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