Kevin David Mitnick Mitnick served five years in prison (four years of it pre-trial), 8 months of that in solitary confinement, and was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was initially restricted from using any communications technology other than a landline telephone. After fighting this decision in court, the judge ruled in favor of Mitnick, allowing him to access the Internet.
Mateusz Stępień: How did your hacking adventures begin ?
• Kevin Mitnick: When I was around 16 years old, I was very interested in phone phreaking, which is similar to hacking, but with the phone system. My adventures began when the phone company started switching from mechanical systems to electronics, I became interested in computer because they could control the phone switches at the phone company.
Mateusz Stępień: You are known as one of the world’s most famous hackers. How do you like your life on the “other side” ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I really enjoy working in the security industry and am glad that I am able to be successful in the field, and it gives me a lot of self-satisfaction to work on the right side of the law and provide a service for the community.
Mateusz Stępień: How was your life after being released from prison ?
• Kevin Mitnick: It has vastly improved.
Mateusz Stępień: Did you think about using your talents to prevent hacking before you were caught ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I never really considered working in the security industry as it is today, although I knew that I wanted to work with computers when I was released. The security field was quite limited at the time of my release, and I would have never envisioned that it would have changed so rapidly as it has in the past few years.
Mateusz Stępień: What has been the most detrimental consequence resulting from your actions ?
• Kevin Mitnick: Going to prison and the loss of my personal freedoms. While incarcerated, the solitary confinement was very difficult.
Mateusz Stępień: What do you remember about your stay in Poland in 2003? Do you plan to return to Poland in the future ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I would love to return to Poland, and hope that a Polish publisher will purchase the rights to my upcoming autobiography and enable me to return for a book tour. My family and I have traveled all over the world, but Poland remains one of the most pleasant travel memories that we share.
Mateusz Stępień: Is it true that the best hackers are Russian ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I don’t think that nationality has anything to do with skillsets. There are many proficient hackers in Russia, but the same could be said about Poland, the United States and numerous Asian and European countries.
Mateusz Stępień: Which hacking job do you consider your greatest accomplishment ?
• Kevin Mitnick: It’s hard to pinpoint one, but I would say that obtaining the source code to all the major cellular phone handsets available at the time would be the greatest feat.
Mateusz Stępień: What prompted you to write the books: “The Art of Deception,“The Art of Intrusion” ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I wrote The Art of Deception because I have always been fascinated by social engineering and I wanted to educate people on the methodologies behind the most common attacks. For The Art of Intrusion, I thought it would be interesting to write a book for the general public to explain the thought process for hackers and how they apply their tradecraft.
Mateusz Stępień: Are all situations described in your book, “The Art of Deception,” based on real events, or is a larger part of it fiction ?
• Kevin Mitnick: The techniques are based on real attacks, but the stories have been fictionalized.
Mateusz Stępień: Where are you currently employed ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I am currently a public speaker/author and I perform engagements throughout the world, mostly at security conferences and for private corporations. I have spoke on numerous occasions before government and educational institutions, as well. In addition, I am the founder of Mitnick Security Consulting, which is a security firm that offers corporations and agencies, services to better protect themselves against intrusions and attackers.
Mateusz Stępień: What have you noticed about the Polish hacking scene ?
• Kevin Mitnick: I know that there are a lot of brilliant hackers in Poland and have been very impressed by their resourcefulness.
Mateusz Stępień: How are you connected to Tsetsumo Shimomura? How do you feel about him ?
• Kevin Mitnick: Shimomura is the person who worked as a de facto government agent and aided the FBI in my capture. We have no contact and have only met once, when he appeared at one of my court hearings.