Kevin Mitnick, the world’s most famous hacker, dies of cancer aged 59
Legendary hacker and author Kevin Mitnick has died at the age of 59 after a 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Dignity Memorial funeral service has disclosed. He is survived by his wife Kimberley, who is pregnant with their first child.
San Fernando (CA) – Kevin was preceded in death by his devoted mother, Shelly Jaffe, and his loving grandmother, Reba Vartanian, his father, Alan Mitnick, and his half-brother, Adam Mitnick.
Raised in San Fernando, California, Mitnick displayed an early talent for computers, which initially led him astray as he quickly mastered social engineering and hacking techniques.
Despite reportedly never using his skills to extort or steal money from targets, Mitnick was prosecuted by the US government. After spending time in a juvenile detention facility, he also served two prison sentences and was, for a while, on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
But, as charismatic as he was brilliant, he eventually won over his adversaries — even the FBI officer in charge of his case defected to Mitnick’s defense team after becoming disillusioned with what he saw as undue persecution of the computer wizard.
Kevin was an original; much of his life reads like a fiction story. The word that most of us who knew him would use – magnificent.
He grew up brilliant and restless in the San Fernando Valley in California, an only child with a penchant for mischief, a defiant attitude toward authority, and a love for magic. Kevin’s intelligence and delight in holding the rapt attention of audiences revealed themselves early in his childhood and continued throughout his life. In time, he transitioned from pranks and learning magic tricks to phone phreaking, social engineering, and computer hacking.
When his desire to push boundaries led him too far astray, he landed in juvenile detention and eventually served a couple of stints in prison. His time on the FBI’s Most Wanted List was well documented in his New York Times bestselling book, The Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker, and his other titles: The Art of Deception, The Art of Intrusion, both co-authored with William Simon, and The Art of Invisibility with Robert Vamosi.
Kevin applied that same relentless tenacity to attempting to beat pancreatic cancer. He and Kimberley invested thousands of hours in searching for the very best treatments, finding the cutting edge research, and working with the most talented and aggressive doctors and surgeons. That search led him to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Dr. Amer Zureikat, Dr. Randall Brand, and their incredible staff. Each individual did their utmost to help Kevin beat the odds and survive and for that we will always be grateful.
Kevin was a gentleman: well-mannered and respectful, astoundingly generous with those he loved. He had a unique and unforgettable laugh – a delightful, loud, booming one – which he unleashed unexpectedly and often, frequently accompanied by a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He saw the funny side of his compulsive perfectionism and work ethic, and enjoyed laughing at his own expense – a rare quality among the best of us.
We knew him simply as Kev, our beloved friend, a devoted husband, and a trustworthy confidante. Kevin Mitnick crammed a dozen lifetimes into a single prematurely short one. He wanted nothing more than to live — to keep enjoying the little “BIG” things like quality time with his wife and their growing family, his in-laws, his relatives, and his longtime friends.
Kevin Mitnick’s Family
He is survived by his brother-in-law, Ricky Barry and his wife Roxy, and their three children: Millie, Winston, and George, his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Daisy and Andrew Tibbs, his stepmother Nanci King, his great aunt Sophie “Chickie” Leventhal and her longtime partner, Dr. Bob Berkowitz, Kevin’s cousins Mitch Leventhal, Karen van den Berg, Jolie Mitnick, Mark Mitnick and Wendy Cohen.