7 Infamous White Hat Hackers in History

Hacker, the term I heard first time during my vocational-technical school in computer network major.

At that time, a hacker was described as a person who has high-skilled in technical computer security. He/she could break into a computer network system, transfer money from other’s bank account to him/her or just to get free internet access.

My classmates inspired and several of them wanted to become hacker someday. We see hacking as a cool profession, I bet you thought the same with us.

Later, I learned that the hacker term was often misinterpreted by peoples as a person who only does criminal activities, like stealing money from others with scamming.

Hacking term was originally used to reffer an activity that modified functionality of a tool. So it’s not just about the computer. The term then used in software and computer network world, that reffer to activity finding vulnerability of a system and then use the knowledge to create patch.

Unfortunately, anything in this world can be used for two purposes, for good or bad.

Generally hacking activities can divided into two categories:

Hacking, any related activity that has a goal to bring positive impact to a system and organization whether by creating a patch for system vulnerability or create better system version. The person doing these things often called White Hat Hacker.

Cracking, any related activity that has a goal to create personal gain from other systems, or to destroy other systems by utilizing its vulnerabilities. The person doing these things often called Black Hat Hacker (Cracker).

So not all hacking activity are evils, many hackers doing good things and bring a positive impact to our society. Many white hat hackers gain recognition and respect from others because of their contribution to humanity. Let’s meet with well-known hackers in our history:

1. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein Head
Albert Einstein

Maybe you wonder why I listed this guy into phenomenal hacker list. Well, as I mentioned earlier, hacking is not just about the computer, in wide term hacking can be applied to all aspects of human life, and Einstein did one most influential ‘hack’ on physics. Author of the infamous relativity theory. His theory is one of two pillars of modern physics, bringing countless new priceless inventions for mankind.

2. Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
Photo: Wikimedia

This genius has a dream, to give free electricity power to the entire world with the invention of Tesla’s Tower. One of his greatest contribution to mankind was the design of the modern alternating current (AC). Unfortunately, he’s cheated by bad guys, made him not able to complete his phenomenal project. In our time, this genius inspired another genius that founded a company with his name, Elon Musk.

3. Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie – Unixmen

Ritchie’s well known as the founder of C, one of the oldest programming language. The revolutionary language that changes how programmer interacts with the computer and inspired the birth of other programming languages like Java. Without him, there will be no Linux, Windows, MacOS. Maybe we will still need to write long computer instructions into the endless paper. Simply he is a computer genius, and no one will deny him as one of great white hat hacker.

4. Linus Torvalds

The man behind the fenomenal operating system that powered more than 81% of the modern smartphone as supercomputer around the globe. He started writing a computer program from the age of 10. He developed Linux in his youth because he was unhappy with MS-DOS and MINIX. He also the creator of GIT, the open source distributed version control.

Linux gives freedom for the operating system users to modify the source code, we can call this as the beginning of open source revolution.

The open source community keeps growing all around the globe, constantly improving Linux operating systems and bringing patches for vulnerabilities.

5. Steve Wozniak

Apple inc. cofounder with Steve Jobs, both of them started personal computer revolution. The passionate hacker that created Apple I and Apple II software byhimself. Because of his brilliance in many aspects of the computer, he was called the Wizard of Woz. He also loves children so much and became 5th-grade teacher, taught them computer.

6. Kevin Mitnick

The former well-known notorious hacker for pwning dozen of government systems and for countless frauds activity. After his time in jail, he changed his life by leaving the dark world of computer security.

He founded security consulting company Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC and helping his clients protect their systems from black hat hacker like old himself. You can read his books on system security: The Art Of Intrusion, The Art Of Deception.

7. Tsutomo Shimomura

Japanese computer security expert and physicist, he was the one who succeeds helped FBI pursued & arrested the most notorious hacker at that time, Kevin Mitnick. He also worked for Sun Microsystems during the late 1990s. He seems wanted to give Mitnick retribution for what he did, hacked Shimomura.

After that historical moment, Shimomoura name becomes well known as a genius hacker that captured another genius hacker.


Most hackers are smart individual, they’re able to combine intelligence and creativity to see the world and bring a genius solution for a problem.

I believe anyone has the potential to become hacker, if you want to become the next one, kindly stay away from any criminal activity. It’ll be better to improve others live than make them miserable, all good & bad things will always return to us someday. Hacking is an art.

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