Cyber attackers are always motivated. Every single malware strain they create is made to cripple organizations and governments. And they are unlikely to stop, especially as we move deeper into the connected world. While hundreds of thousands of hackers may exist worldwide, only a select few make it to the most notorious list.

9 Famous Hackers You Should Know

We listed nine of the most nefarious hackers and detailed what they did to earn their reputation below.

Adrian Lamo

Alias: The Homeless Hacker

Adrian Lamo became known when he modified a published Reuters article to include a fake quote supposedly from ex-Attorney-General John Ashcroft in 2001. He then informed the victim about what he did and then helped Reuters address the issue.

A similar misdeed in 2002, that time targeting the New York Times, however, led to his arrest. He cited himself as an expert source for an article by hacking the publisher’s intranet. While he did not serve jail time, he was placed on house arrest for six months.

After he reported fellow hacker Chelsea Manning who leaked confidential documents to the public, the hacking community shunned him. From then on, he was dubbed the “Snitch.”

Where Is He Now?

Lamo died on 14 March 2018 due to a drug overdose.

Albert Gonzales

Alias: CumbaJohnny, Segvec, SoupNazi, and KingChilli

Hacker Albert Gonzales is notorious for founding, which allowed its members to buy and sell stolen personal credentials (e.g., bank account, credit and debit card, student ID, Social Security ID, and health insurance ID numbers). Experts believe traded more than 170 million personal credential sets from 2005 to 2007 alone. Gonzales was also responsible for hacking into the databases of Heartland Payment Systems and TJX Companies to steal their clients’ payment card details.

Where Is He Now?

Gonzales was arrested in 2005 and is currently serving a 20-year sentence. He is slated for release in 2025.

Gary McKinnon

Alias: Solo

Gary McKinnon is infamous for hacking close to 100 servers of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. military from February 2001 to March 2002. In the attacks, McKinnon wiped out sensitive information from target systems, causing the government to spend as much as US$900,000 to recover lost data.

The Scottish hacker was a child prodigy at the age of 14 when he started infiltrating computer networks. He hacked into NASA servers to prove the existence of aliens. In 2006, he told Wired that NASA has been keeping high-resolution images of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).

Where Is He Now?

In 2009, he won an extradition case against the U.S. government. He was diagnosed as clinically depressed and found to have Asperger’s syndrome. He is currently housed in a U.K. asylum.

Jeanson James Ancheta

Alias: Resilient

Being the first hacker who successfully controlled a massive army of spam botnets gained Jeanson James Ancheta his place among the most infamous hackers of all time. In 2004, this California-born hacker used the rxbot worm to control almost half a million computers, including those owned by the U.S. military, to bring down major websites. He advertised and sold his services afterward before getting nabbed via an elaborate sting operation in 2005. An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) posed as a client, effectively catching him.

Where Is He Now?

Ancheta is currently serving the last year of his five-year sentence.

Kevin Mitnick

Alias: The Condor and The Darkside Hacker

Dubbed as the “most wanted computer criminal” in U.S. history, Kevin Mitnick should perhaps be at the top of our most nefarious list. He was previously charged and sentenced to a year of imprisonment after being found guilty of hacking into the network of Digital Equipment Corporation. After serving his sentence, he was given a conditional release for three years. Toward the end of the period, Mitnick went on a hacking spree, stealing corporate data and breaching the national defense warning system. He was again caught and served another five years in prison.

Where Is He Now?

Mitnick is currently a cybersecurity consultant and a public speaker. He has written two books and now runs his own security consulting company.


Alias:  Anons, Freedom Fighter, and Digital Robin Hoods

Anonymous is a group of international activists that use cyber attacks as a sign of protest against government agencies, private institutions, and even religious sects. They are famous for using the tagline, “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” 

The group traces its roots back in 2003 via the 4chan community. Most of their attacks are collective in nature. Even if the so-called movement does not have a leader and anyone can become a member, the people involved in the cyber attacks follow strict rules such as not disclosing their identity, not openly talking about the group, and not attacking the media. 

Some of the notable cyber attacks associated with the group include Project Chanology when they targeted the Church of Scientology. The religious sect filed for a cease and desist case for copyright violation after a video of Tom Cruise praising the religion leaked. As a result, Anonymous made up of 4chan users responded by sending black faxes, making prank calls, and launching a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on its site.

Where Are They Now?

Rumors that Anonymous is back after a video showing a figure with the signature Guy Fawkes mask surfaced with a distorted voiceover, saying, “Greetings, citizens of the United States. This is a message from Anonymous to the Minneapolis Police Department.” The black-clad figure then discussed the misconduct of the said police department before ending with the lines, “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world. We are Legion. Expect us.”

Marcel Lazăr Lehel

Alias: Guccifer

More famously known as “Guccifer,” Marcel Lazăr Lehel is a Romanian hacker who targets Romanian and U.S. government officials, celebrities, and other prominent individuals. His claim to fame was hacking into the AOL account of Dorothy Bush Koch, the sister of George W. Bush. Guccifer continued to hack several other email inboxes of high-ranking government officials, such as Bill Clinton before he was convicted in 2014 for hacking charges.

Where Is He Now?

Guccifer is currently serving his 52-month sentence in the U.S. His alias inspired the use of Guccifer 2.0 by the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) operative responsible for spreading stolen data from hacking the Democratic National Committee server in 2016.


Alias: ASTRA

ASTRA is the only one among the famous hackers in this list who has yet to be publicly identified. We only know that he is a Greek mathematician responsible for hacking into the Dassault Group’s server. He stole weapons technology software and other relevant data, which he sold to at least 250 people across the globe. Ironically, the alias ASTRA is Sanskrit for “weapon.”

Where Is He Now?

ASTRA was caught in 2008 and served his six-year sentence. Since the person behind the alias remains unknown, it is hard to say where he is right now.

Robert Tapan Morris

Alias: RTM

American computer scientist and entrepreneur Robert Tappan Morris is best known for creating the Morris worm in 1988. In fact, his creation is considered the first computer worm.

Morris was tried and convicted for releasing the worm, the first person to have suffered the consequences of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). After serving his three-year prison term, he completed his PhD at Harvard in 1999. He then cofound the online store Viaweb, one of the first web applications, and the venture capital funding firm Y Combinator, both with Paul Graham.

Morris, later on, taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, where he received tenure in 2006. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2019.

Where Is He Now?

Morris continues to serve in the National Academy of Engineering, an American nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Research Council.

While most of these famous hackers are currently paying for their crimes, their actions show that everyone is vulnerable. Hackers always find a way into even the most protected networks. As a potential victim, you should always try to ensure that you remain protected at all times.