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Kevin Mitnick dies following cancer battle.

Kevin Mitnick dies following cancer battle.

Famed hacker and KnowBe4 part-owner Kevin Mitnick dies following cancer battle.

Kevin Mitnick, who was the world’s best-known hacker for a period before becoming a well-respected white-hat hacker, has passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer at age 59.

Born in Los Angeles in 1963, Mitnick had an early history in hacking, changing the grades of his friends on a Los Angeles school computer system before expanding his activities to hacking more prominent systems as he grew older.

His first hacking conviction was in 1988, when he was charged with stealing software from the Digital Equipment Corp.’s network.

After serving a year in jail, Mitnick couldn’t resist the call of hacking, breaking into the networks of major firms such as Nokia Corp., Motorola and IBM Corp.

His targeting led to his appearing on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list, with Mitnick evading capture for two and a half years until finally being arrested in 1995.

Mitnick subsequently spent five years in prison, including eight months in solitary confinement. Upon his release in 2000, Mitnick swore off a life of crime and instead became a cybersecurity consultant, author and speaker, using his skills in hacking techniques to protect organizations against cyberthreats.

In November 2011, Mitnick became the chief hacking officer and partial owner of the security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc., which was founded by close friend and business partner Stu Sjouwerman. In November, KnowBe4 was acquired by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners for $4.6 billion.

“Kevin will always remain ‘the world’s most famous hacker’ and was renowned for his intelligence, humor and extraordinary skill with technology, surpassed only by his talent as the original social engineer,” KnowBe4 said in a statement. “More importantly, Kevin was a loving and devoted husband to his wife, Kimberley, who diligently stood beside him during his battle with cancer. Kimberley is expecting the arrival of the couple’s first child later this year.”

A memorial for Mitnick will take place in Las Vegas on Aug. 1.

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