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Saturday, March 27, 1999 Published at 11:54 GMT


Notorious hacker pleads guilty

Mitnick: An underground legend among some hackers

One of the most notorious hackers in the US, Kevin Mitnick, has pleaded guilty to computer and wire fraud charges in a deal with prosecutors.

Mitnick pleaded guilty to five felony counts after admitting causing millions of dollars in damage to companies whose computer systems he penetrated.

The plea agreement was sealed by the court. But it is reported to contain a provision requiring Mitnick not to touch a computer for about four years.

He is also believed to be barred from profiting from his story, which already has inspired an forthcoming Hollywood movie.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison term of three years and 10 months when he is sentenced in June.

Such a sentence could mean he would be a free man by next February when time served is taken into account. Mitnick has been in jail since February 1995.

The prosecution said Mitnick had cost companies and institutions millions of dollars by stealing their software and altering computer information. Among his victims were Motorola, Novell, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, and the University of Southern California.

Mitnick was arrested four times for hacking during the 1980s and previously served a one-year prison term.

Prosecutors said he started hacking again when he was on probation in 1992. He then went underground until his capture in 1995.

Mitnick's repeated offences and fugitive status made him a legend among some young computer buffs and hackers.

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