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Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59

US hacker Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59

Kevin Mitnick, a reformed hacker who was once one of the FBI’s “most wanted” cybercriminals, has died at the age of 59.

On Sunday, July 16, 2023, Kevin David Mitnick, aged 59, peacefully passed away after a courageous year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Throughout this challenging period, his devoted wife, Kimberley Mitnick, stood steadfastly by his side, providing unwavering support. Tragically, Kevin’s passing leaves behind his grieving wife, who carries the precious gift of their first child, as a testament to their love and hope for the future.

In the embrace of their love, Kevin faced the loss of loved ones before his passing. He was preceded in death by his mother, Shelly Jaffe, and his grandmother, Reba Vartanian, as well as his father, Alan Mitnick, and half-brother, Adam Mitnick. Though he leaves behind cherished memories and loved ones who mourn his absence, Kevin’s legacy of strength and love will forever endure in their hearts.

US hacker Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59
US hacker Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59

Kevin’s passing leaves behind a wide network of beloved family members, including his brother-in-law Ricky Barry and wife Roxy, along with their three children: Millie, Winston, and George. He is also survived by his caring mother-in-law and father-in-law, Daisy and Andrew Tibbs, his stepmother Nanci King, and his great aunt Sophie “Chickie” Leventhal, alongside her longtime partner, Dr. Bob Berkowitz. Kevin’s cousins Mitch Leventhal, Karen van den Berg, Jolie Mitnick, Mark Mitnick, and Wendy Cohen further enriched his extended family.

Having grown up in the vibrant San Fernando Valley in California, Kevin was an only child who reveled in mischief, defied authority, and harbored a love for magic. His intelligence and captivating presence on stage were evident from an early age and remained a constant throughout his life. Over time, his youthful pranks and fascination with magic evolved into more complex pursuits, including phone phreaking, social engineering, and computer hacking.

The path of pushing boundaries eventually led Kevin to juvenile detention and, later, multiple prison stints. His time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List was chronicled in his New York Times bestselling book, “The Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker,” along with other titles such as “The Art of Deception” and “The Art of Intrusion,” co-authored with William Simon, and “The Art of Invisibility” with Robert Vamosi.

Upon completing his final prison term in January 2000, which he humorously referred to as a ‘vacation,’ Kevin emerged as a transformed individual. He embarked on a new career journey as a White Hat hacker and security consultant, quickly gaining global recognition as a sought-after public speaker and writer. Kevin founded Mitnick Security Consulting, establishing himself as an expert in the field. Furthermore, in November 2011, he became the Chief Hacking Officer and a part-owner of the successful security awareness training company, KnowBe4, founded by his close friend and business partner, Stu Sjouwerman. Kevin’s remarkable evolution from hacker to respected security consultant made a significant impact in the cybersecurity world, leaving behind a legacy of transformative change.

US hacker Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59
US hacker Kevin Mitnick dies aged 59

Kevin’s family fondly remembers how he had a remarkable knack for attracting attention and support from the most unexpected quarters. During his federal trial, the bus driver who had observed young Kevin memorizing bus schedules and mastering punch cards and punch tool systems testified as a character witness, showcasing Kevin’s unique abilities. Even the federal prosecutor vouched for Kevin, stating that he never intended to harm any of his “victims.” Moreover, the probation officer, who monitored Kevin after his prison term, granted him permission to write his first book on a laptop, despite regulations limiting his computer access. The star witness in the FBI’s case against Kevin, Shawn Nunley, was so disheartened by the government’s treatment of Kevin that he switched sides, helping secure Kevin’s release, and eventually became one of his closest friends. Kevin had an uncanny way of transforming adversaries into lifelong allies, leaving an enduring impact on all those he encountered.

According to his family, knowing Kevin meant experiencing a whirlwind of emotions: fascination, exasperation, astonishment, amusement, and irritation – all in equal measure. He possessed an unwavering insistence on staying informed at all times, leading to numerous phone calls to the same person within a single day just to ensure he had every detail. With lofty standards for himself and his team, he would immerse himself in complex problems related to his work for hours on end. Kevin dedicated much of his time to the Global Ghost Team, an elite pentesting group spanning various countries, including Argentina, Spain, Germany, and Canada. Self-taught and driven by insatiable curiosity and boundless energy, he constantly honed his hacking skills. His intense pursuit of excellence pushed not only himself but also his team to new heights in their craft.

Kevin’s visionary mindset and expertise enabled him to find pathways into every authorized organization he hacked. Yet, he utilized this knowledge for the greater good, creating hacking demonstrations to educate businesses and individuals on safeguarding their systems. His remarkable body of work inspired countless individuals to pursue careers in cybersecurity, a field in which he left an indelible mark and an extraordinary legacy. The cybersecurity industry owes much to Kevin’s ingenuity, leaving a lasting impact on the world he so passionately embraced.

 

“Kevin’s relentless tenacity extended to his battle against pancreatic cancer. Alongside his devoted wife, Kimberley, he invested countless hours searching for the most advanced treatments, cutting-edge research, and skilled medical professionals. Their determined pursuit led them to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where Dr. Amer Zureikat, Dr. Randall Brand, and their exceptional team worked tirelessly to help Kevin overcome the odds, leaving an everlasting sense of gratitude in our hearts.

Kevin embodied the true essence of a gentleman: well-mannered, respectful, and astonishingly generous to those he loved. His laugh was distinctive and unforgettable – a delightful, booming sound often accompanied by a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He humorously recognized the funny side of his own compulsive perfectionism and work ethic, an endearing quality rare among the finest of individuals.

To us, he was simply Kev – a cherished friend, a devoted husband, and a confidante we could trust implicitly. Despite his life being tragically cut short, Kevin managed to experience more in his time than most could in a dozen lifetimes. He treasured the simple joys of spending quality time with his beloved wife, their growing family, and the bonds he shared with his in-laws, relatives, and longtime friends.

The loss of Kevin leaves a void in our hearts that can never be filled. We will forever miss him, hearing his voice echo in our minds, and looking forward to the day when we may meet again in whatever version of the ‘beyond’ we envision. The thought of Kevin, perhaps playing a mischievous prank or inviting us to share an extraordinary meal and conversation, brings comfort and hope. We are profoundly grateful for the time we spent with this remarkable man, and his memory will live on, especially with the upcoming birth of his and Kimberley’s child. As the child grows, they will know that their father’s friends from all around the world hold them close in their hearts, forever carrying a piece of Kevin’s incredible spirit within them.”

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