Until season 2 of Mr. Robot comes around, here’s an inside look at real world Elliot Alderson
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Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/ Shutterstock

The first season of Mr. Robot may be over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty other cyber criminals to keep you intrigued. Here are 3 real world hackers worth knowing about.

We can’t believe the first season of Mr. Robot is already ending. It’s been a fun ride watching Elliot Alderson combat the obstacles of using his hacking capabilities for good, and we’ve especially appreciated the accuracy with which the hacker’s world is finally portrayed. Mr. Robot’s producers really deserve some kudos for not shying away from the technical aspects that make up the real world of hacking and opting instead for ill-informed mumbo jumbo like what we’ve seen in other hacking-related TV shows.

Though we may have to say goodbye to Elliot Alderson for a while, there are plenty of real-world hackers that might keep us entertained until season 2 with some of the stunts they’ve pulled. Here are three of our favorites:

Gary McKinnon

It almost sounds like a plot for a TV show. An extremely talented hacker has an intense interest in UFOs and suspicions about what the U.S. government might be hiding about them. He decides that the best way to put his suspicions to rest and uncover the truth is to hack into the NASA and the U.S. Military’s computer systems. And he succeeds.

This isn’t make believe, it’s the story of Gary McKinnon. McKinnon, who also goes by SOLO, managed to shut down 2,000 U.S. Military computers for a full 24 hours in his search for evidence of aliens. In no time, he went from being an unknown to attracting attention from news and media outlets across the globe as well as hacker groups, famous musicians and politicians.

The legal proceedings following McKinnon’s hack also seemed like something out of Hollywood, involving a ten-year battle to keep McKinnon from being extradited to the U.S. This battle came to a happy ending for this talented hacker when, in 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May withdrew her extradition order to the United States.

The Homeless Hacker

There are a lot of interesting aspects to the story of Adrian Lamo, the homeless hacker who, in the early 2000s, was known for wandering the United States via Greyhound when he wasn’t busy hacking into major corporations and carrying out some of the biggest breaches the world had seen. At the mere age of 20 he managed to hack into Yahoo! News. And it wasn’t long after that before he hacked into The New York Times and finally got himself in trouble with the law.

What’s different about Lamo? For starters, he was open about his actions and even reached out to the owners of the breached websites to let them know he’d managed to break into their sites and to help them patch security holes. He was also the one to inform Army Counterintelligence about Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning), who was leaking sensitive U.S. government documents. Do we sense some Alderson-esque morality at play?

What’s also interesting is the more personal side of Lamo’s story: his diagnosis of Asperger’s disease finally came after years of struggle with depression and misdiagnoses. This is the same disease with which Gary McKinnon was diagnosed at the age of 42.

Kevin Poulsen

From convicted computer hacker to senior editor at a major technology publication—there’s no story like Kevin Poulsen’s. As a black hat hacker, Poulsen is best known for having taken over every single one of the telephone lines for the Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM in order to win a Porsche (talk about a creative way to manipulate phone-in contests). After the FBI began pursuing him, Poulsen went underground and was even featured on NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries TV show. But police finally arrested him, and Poulsen was sentenced to five years in prison. Another hit? He was banned from using computers and the Internet for a full three years after his release.

What’s a hacker who can’t touch a computer to do? Become a journalist, of course. Today, Poulsen is a senior editor at Wired. He’s worked hard over the years to distance himself from his criminal past, and, since serving jail time, has been involved in work that helped lead to the arrest of a child molester. He also broke the initial story of Chelsea Manning’s arrest, and wrote a book about the cybercrime underground. Are there any hackers out there that you admire? Tell us about them in the comments below.

This post was originally published on LogDog.

Featured Image Credit: Andrey_Popov/ Shutterstock

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