Top 5 Famous Computer Hackers: From Conficker to the First Computer Virus

Out of the ashes rose a phoenix. A compromise was struck. Instead of going to a store to buy a Britney Spears CD, why not go to Apple's iTunes to download "Oops!...I Did it Again" for 99 cents? You get the music -- a digital file instead of a physical disc -- and you can skip all the other tracks you really don't care for.

Fanning is out of the music business now. In 2006 he started Rupture, a social networking tool.

The Conficker Creator

The author of today's newsmaking worm is -- well, authorities say they don't know if it's a he, a she, or a they. Somewhere out there, Conficker's author or authors have been sending their program around the world, and driving security professionals crazy by updating it whenever someone gets close to deciphering it.

"We've got some bad guys who are extremely sophisticated," said Merrick Furst, a Georgia Tech professor who also heads a computer-security firm.

Looking Back

Cohen, the creator of that first virus, now 25 years ago, looks on those who followed and wonders what's kept them.

"Something that surprises me," he said, "is how long it's taken for the hackers to get any sophistication."

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