A high-profile computer security expert who once was on the FBI’s most wanted list for hacking into 40 major companies will be one of the special guest speakers at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in February.
Kevin Mitnick – often referred to as “the world’s most famous hacker” – is now a security consultant to Fortune 500 companies and governments worldwide. He will share his cybersecurity expertise at the annual summit, which runs Feb. 4-5 at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Other guest speakers and panelists at the summit include actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Meghan Markle, Sport for Freedom founder Julia Immonen, One Young World co-founder David Jones, and Human Rights Activist Kerry Kennedy.
Micho Schumann, principal in IT advisory–cybersecurity for KPMG, one of the summit’s sponsors, said, “In our world, [Kevin Mitnick] is our David Beckham or Lebron James.”
Mr. Schumann suggested to summit organizers that the event’s list of speakers this year should include a cybersecurity expert because “2015 has been the year of cybersecurity” with several serious cyberattacks on governments and businesses worldwide. Mr. Mitnick was the first person he thought of for the list.
“Anybody in the industry has followed him since the days when he was in the FBI’s most wanted list … anybody interested in IT at the time, in security, knows Kevin Mitnick,” Mr. Schumann said.
After a few years on the lam from the FBI, Mr. Mitnick served a five-year prison sentence, beginning in 1995, for breaking into computers and stealing software. His prison term included eight months in solitary confinement because a federal judge believed he had the ability to whistle tones into a phone and launch a nuclear missile (he had no such ability, though he had frequently hacked U.S. phone company Pacific Bell).
Mr. Mitnick said he never used the information he gained from his hacks for malicious purposes, but merely enjoyed the challenge.
Many of his hacks were done using “social engineering,” where he would impersonate people or otherwise persuade employees to hand over sensitive information for free. In his book, “The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security,” Mr. Mitnick says humans, not technology, pose the biggest threat to security, and that the easiest way to access high-tech systems is through the people who manage, operate and use them. Today, as CEO of Mitnick Security, Mr. Mitnick mentors business leaders and their staff on how to boost technical and human-based security controls to protect against attacks.
Mr. Schumann said those who attend Mr. Mitnick’s talk might learn what can be done better in the financial services industry to take care of investors and information, and about the types of security breaches currently taking place.
“[Mr.] Mitnick brings a lot of mystique, but also a lot of credibility as a security consultant,” Mr. Schumann said. “Cybersecurity is kind of the talk of the town, and I think it’s going to be a great show.”