Hacking, the art of writing computer code, and manipulating computer hardware has traditionally kept men at the top of the field, and that is why many are surprised to hear that there are a handful of women that have found a place in this world. It remains an evolving, multi-billion dollar industry as some hackers are often blamed for causing irreparable damage while others are simultaneously credited for some of the biggest breakthroughs in technology.
No matter what a hacker may be, they are known for their resourcefulness and their knowledge of complex theory, so here is a closer look at ten of the most notorious female hackers including Adeanna Cook and the impact that they have had on the world.
1. Susan Headley
With her career stretching back decades, Susan Headley has undergone her fair share of nicknames including both Susy Thunder and Susan Thunder. Going all the way back to 1970s, Headley was one of the first females to join one of the most renowned hacking groups in history, Cyberpunks. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, this organization continued to advance the field of hacking and created some of the most common tactics that are still used today. Over time, Headley created her own offshoot organization known as the Roscoe Gang, but she eventually gave up her hacking career to move to Las Vegas and become a professional poker player. In a twist that very few professional hackers undergo, Headley decided that she was ready for public office, even in a minor position, and was elected as the City Clerk in California City in 1994.
2. Natasha Grigori
Known simply as Natasha Grigori, a name partially taken from Bullwinkle’s nemesis in the classic children’s cartoon, very little information has been revealed to the world about this famous hacker. Her career as a hacker begun in the 1980s but she did not receive fame until the early 1990s with a bulletin-board website for amateur programmers and hackers. With this site, she helped others share, release, and hack various forms of software, but she found another calling in the late 1990s when she founded antichildporn.org, also known as ACPO and Anti-Child Porn Organization. This website has become one of the largest crusaders against online child pornography and countless hackers utilize techniques learned from Grigori to help law enforcement agencies find and prosecute distributors. One of Grigori’s largest projects was centered on software that will automatically glean information from tens of thousands of suspected URLs and track those that are sending and receiving data with those websites. She has stated that once completed, the fully-developed software will then be shared with the authorities for finding and prosecuting criminals. Unfortunately, Natasha Grigori lost her battle with a severe illness on November 11, 2005, but ACPO has been left behind as a viable and effective organization that continues to operate today.
3. Joanna Rutkowska
Joanna Rutkowska is further proof that not all hackers are bad, and few specialists have done more for operating system security than this notorious hacker. Most widely regarded for her work with Windows Vista, Rutkowska shocked the world in the August 2006 Black Hat Briefing Convention in Las Vegas. In front of a crowd, Rutkowska demonstrated two simple methods for hacking into the Windows Vista beta. She also revealed a Blue Pill technique that allowed her to transfer a running operating system onto a virtual machine well before the worldwide use of virtual machines and virtual servers within the private sector. Named as one of the ‘Five Hackers who Put a Mark on 2006,’ this Polish hacker now helps customers with her international security firm. She continues to give lectures at conferences and works closely with some of the biggest software and hardware designers in the industry including Windows.
4. Adeanna Cooke or Adeanna Cook
Most of the world recognizes Adeanna Cooke as an international model regularly featured in Playboy, but her fans are often surprised to hear that she is also a well-established hacker and amateur computer programmer. With very little in the way of training, Cooke taught herself the basics of hacking and often uses it to further her modeling career. When her images were illegally used to make money by her long-time partner, Cooke took on the project of protecting her images and hacked the website to remove all of the stolen property. After this event Cooke was named “Hacker Fairy” and found her calling within the hacking industry. She now helps professional models and other women from being taken advantage of online.
5. Xiao Tian
After feeling female hackers had little outlet for their interest in technology, Xiao Tian created the renowned hacking group China Girl Security Team. Still a teenager, Tian quickly expanded the group to just over 2,200 members, all of which were female girls looking for a community in which they would feel welcome. This female hacking organization now has ties to some of the most infamous hacking groups throughout the world and has become one of the largest Chinese-based hacking groups. As with most well-known and outspoken groups of this nature, Xiao Tian and the rest of China Girl Security Team continue to receive attention from national and international police organizations due to their activities.
6. Jude Milhon
Before passing away in 2003, Jude Milhon was a hacker and author best known under the pseudonym St. Jude. She began her career as a computer programmer in 1967 working with some of the earliest incarnations of the internet. As time went on, she began her slow transition into the life of a hacker and eventually started the hacking group Cypherpunks, not to be confused with cyberpunks. Milhon was one of the primary activists that stated hacking was nothing more than bringing out the potential of software and continued to lobby against all those that believed hacking was nothing more than a criminal act. Throughout her life she wrote book after book as well as contributed to a number of magazines within both the hacking industry and the computer programming industry.
7. Ying Cracker
When it comes to the world of female hackers, Ying Cracker can be seen as the professor that gives students their first taste of this unique field. Often referring to herself as an educator, Ying Cracker is a resident of Shanghai and believes that hacking is a useful skill that can be learned by anyone. This is why she has released multiple publications that teach introductory skills for hacking. Generally aimed at a younger crowd, Cracker helps students with information such as how to change one’s IP address or even scramble their personal passwords. Originally noticed on a message board for her looks, Ying Cracker has set out to convince the world that female hackers can add quite a bit to this field. As her primary form of income, she now offers free courses as well as tailor-made software to private and public organizations that would like to protect their sensitive data. She also offers paid courses for those that would like to move beyond the basics of hacking and get into high-end software development.
While many of the top female hackers are known for their legal work within the security sector, Gigabyte is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Her real name is Kim Vanvaeck and she was born and raised in Belgium. She is believed to have been the sole creator or primary creator of a number of high-end viruses including Coconut-A, Sahay-A, and Sharp-A meant to target hardware with sensitive information. Unlike many other viruses that were meant to steal private information in order to make money, these viruses were used to destroy the information itself. Law enforcement agencies have tried to paint her as a woman that is seeking notoriety in a field that is dominated by men, and Gigabyte’s name was traced to hundreds of viruses throughout the years. Recently, Vanvaeck was arrested just outside of her hometown of Mechelon near Brussels but was released within 24 hours on bail. She is currently accused of stealing and destroying private data and is facing 3 years in prison and over 100,000 Euros in fines.
9. Raven Adler
Often recognized as one of the most gifted and intelligent hackers in the world, Raven Adler graduated high school at just 14 and got her college degree at 18. As a frequent speaker at hacking and software conferences, Adler was also the first female to ever give a presentation at DefCon, one of the world’s most prestigious gathering of hackers. When asked about her appearance at DefCon, she often replies that she would like to be known for her work, not for being a female in the field. Currently, Adler specializes in securing data from end-to-end, and this has made her invaluable to both private and public organizations looking to protect sensitive information. She now works as a senior security consultant for a number of companies and continues to give lectures and regularly publish her work in industry magazines. She also works closely alongside a number of federal firms in an effort to secure their online databases.
10. Kristina Vladimirovna Svechinskaya
Without question, Krisina Svechinskaya remains one of the most well-known names in hacking. This Russian hacker is also a top-notch New York University student, but most will recognize her from a string of high-end hacking jobs that have potentially resulted in millions of dollars lost. Specializing in the use of Trojan horses, Svechinskaya attacked thousands of bank accounts, most within the United States, and then created a series of fake accounts through both Bank of America and Wachovia. She then utilized nine other people to create fake passports, but was finally caught and is now under threat of multiple charges. Overall, some authorities estimate that she stole $3 million in as little as a few months.