GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The world’s most famous hacker, Kevin Mitnick, said during an event in Mexico that what he most enjoys is being able to hack into the most complex systems in the world and get paid for doing it, an activity that once caused him a lot of trouble and that he now does with authorization.
In an appearance before young Mexicans attending Talent Land, the event of innovation and technology being held in the western state of Jalisco, Mitnick said Monday that although he is now a consultant in cybersecurity, he still considers himself a hacker.
But while he happily admitted to being a hacker, he explained that “now I do it with authorization,” which means that he and his consultancy are hired to monitor security controls for companies that need his expertise.
“Before I did it for free and it got me in a lot of trouble,” Mitnick said.
Mitnick, a fugitive from the FBI back in the 1990s when he was considered the most dangerous cybercriminal after hacking into 40 companies and the most secure systems in the United States for fun, then paid for it by serving a five-year prison sentence.
Afterwards he founded his own firm and has worked as a consultant for companies and governments around the world.
It was “like Pablo Escobar becoming a pharmacist,” Mitnick joked, referring to the late leader of Colombia’s infamous Medellin drug cartel.
Mitnick caught the attention of hundreds of young people who packed the forum’s main auditorium by telling them how at age 16 he hacked the self-service system of a McDonald’s and changed people’s orders, and how in prep school he stole his teacher’s password during a computer course.
He also dispensed some advice to the youths about how to keep their computer systems secure, and showed them how any computer can be hacked with just an e-mail and a telephone number.
For five days, Talent Land will gather together 30,000 participants, will offer 1,500 hours of content in 14 themes divided into six “lands.”
Talent Land events are divided into are Startup Land, Iron Land for drones, cyborgs and robots, Creative Land, Game Land for videogames, Future Land with all that’s coming in technology and innovation, and Developer Land that includes the world’s biggest Hackathon.