Press Archive

SDSC Senior Research Fellow Tsutomu Shimomura Describes "Take Down" of Kevin Mitnick, Fugitive Computer Criminal

Published 01/15/1996

For more information, contact
Ann Redelfs
San Diego Supercomputer Center
619-534-5032
619-534-5113 (FAX)
redelfs@sdsc.edu

Tsutomu Shimomura, a nationally known computer security expert and senior research fellow at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, is the man who "took down" Kevin Mitnick, a fugitive computer criminal.

Mitnick, responsible for a variety of computer crimes including unauthorized breaches of network service providers such as the Well and Netcom, had been able to elude the police and the FBI for several years. It was only when he broke into Shimomura's computers in San Diego on Christmas Day, 1994, that his luck began to change. Less than two months later, after a concentrated effort involving sophisticated Internet monitoring techniques, Shimomura tracked Mitnick down in Raleigh, North Carolina, and helped the FBI arrest him on February 15, 1995.

This episode has provided the plot for a recently released book authored by Shimomura and New York Times technology reporter John Markoff called "Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw-By the Man Who Did It" (Hyperion Books, 1995). The book describes, in step-by-step detail, Shimomura's pursuit and capture of Mitnick-in effect a modern-day update of "The Cuckoo's Egg," a book by Clifford Stoll describing various computer hackers that became a bestseller when it appeared in 1989.

In a multimedia expansion of the book, Tsutomu Shimomura has made a vast amount of background material available to the public on the Internet. His Web page contains technical details, live transcripts, computer logs, photos, audio, video, and links to other sources of information. It can be found at http://takedown.com.

As a result of the publication of their book, Shimomura and Markoff recently have received considerable media attention. The authors were the subjects of a report on "Dateline NBC" that aired Friday, January 19, 1996. The segment focused on the individuals involved rather than on technical issues or the ethics of computer privacy, and Mitnick declined to participate.

Tonight (January 15) the book's authors will be online for a two-hour chat on PRODIGY/Living Digital starting at 9:00 p.m. EST. (For additional information, see http://www.prodigy.com.) Shimomura and Markoff will spend the first hour talking about their book in a session moderated by Farhan Memon, Cyberspace columnist for the New York Post and editor-in-chief of Prodigy's Living Digital.

Authors Jon Littman and Jeff Goodell will spend the second hour of the session disagreeing with Shimomura, Markoff, and each other. Littman has written "The Fugitive Game," which argues that Mitnick is a harmless creep rather than a threat to society. Goodell's book, "The Cyberthief and the Samurai," takes a deeper look into Mitnick's background, trying to understand his obsession with hacking. Living Digital columnist Larry Magid will assume hosting duties for this second hour.

Shimomura and Markoff also will also "appear" online in Club Wired on Friday, January 19, at 12:00 noon PST at http://www.hotwired.com/club/ on the World Wide Web.

Articles on Tsutomu Shimomura and John Markoff are also planned for publication in New York Magazine (01/15/96), The New Yorker, (01/15/96), People, (01/15/96), and Details (03/01/96).

The San Diego Supercomputer Center, a national laboratory for computational science and engineering, is affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, and administered by General Atomics through a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. For additional information, refer to SDSC's home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.sdsc.edu or contact Ann Redelfs, SDSC, 619-534-5032, redelfs@sdsc.edu.