Kevin Poulsen

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Kevin Poulsen
Poulsen in 2014
Kevin Lee Poulsen

(1965-11-30) November 30, 1965 (age 58)
Other namesDark Dante
OccupationContributing editor at The Daily Beast
Criminal information
Criminal statusreleased
Conviction(s)seven counts of conspiracy, fraud, and intercepting wire communications
Criminal penalty51 months in federal prison, banned from using computers without permission from his probation officer

Kevin Lee Poulsen (born November 30, 1965) is an American former black-hat hacker and a contributing editor at The Daily Beast.


He was born in Pasadena, California, on November 30, 1965.[1]

On June 1, 1990, Poulsen took over all of the telephone lines for Los Angeles radio station KIIS-FM, guaranteeing that he would be the 102nd caller and win the prize of a Porsche 944 S2.[2][3][4]

When the Federal Bureau of Investigation started pursuing Poulsen, he went underground as a fugitive. A storage company cleared out a storage shed in Poulsen's name due to non-payment of rent, where computer equipment was discovered which was furnished to the FBI for evidence. When he was featured on NBC's Unsolved Mysteries, the show's 1-800 telephone lines mysteriously crashed.[2][5] Poulsen was arrested in April 1991[6] following an investigation led in part by John McClurg.[7][8]

In June 1994, Poulsen pleaded guilty to seven counts of conspiracy, fraud, and wiretapping.[6] He was sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary and banned from using computers or the internet for three years after his release. He was the first American to be released from prison with a court sentence that banned him from using computers and the internet after his prison sentence. Although Chris Lamprecht was sentenced first with an internet ban on May 5, 1995, Poulsen was released from prison before Lamprecht and began serving his ban sentence earlier. (Poulsen's parole officer later allowed him to use the Internet in 2004, with certain monitoring restrictions).[9]


Poulsen reinvented himself as a journalist after his release from prison and sought to distance himself from his criminal past. Poulsen served in a number of journalistic capacities at California-based security research firm SecurityFocus, where he began writing security and hacking news in early 2000. Despite a late arrival to a market saturated with technology media, SecurityFocus News became a well-known name in the tech news world during Poulsen's tenure with the company and was acquired by Symantec. Moreover, his original investigative reporting was frequently picked up by the mainstream press. Poulsen left SecurityFocus in 2005 to freelance and pursue independent writing projects. In June 2005, he became a senior editor for Wired News, which hosted his blog, 27BStroke6,[10] later renamed Threat Level.[11]

In October 2006, Poulsen released information detailing his successful search for registered sex offenders using MySpace to solicit sex from children. His work identified 744 registered people with MySpace profiles and led to the arrest of one, Andrew Lubrano.[12]

In June 2010, Poulsen broke the initial story of the arrest of U.S. service member Chelsea Manning and published the logs of Manning's chats with Adrian Lamo regarding WikiLeaks.[13][14]

In June 2019, Poulsen was accused of doxing Shawn Brooks, a 34-year-old Trump supporter living in The Bronx, when Poulsen revealed his identity in an article published in The Daily Beast on June 1, 2019 for being the alleged creator and disseminator of a fake video, which showed Nancy Pelosi speaking in a slurred manner.[15][16][17]


Poulsen, Aaron Swartz, and James Dolan designed and developed SecureDrop, an open-source software platform for secure communication between journalists and sources. It was originally developed under the name DeadDrop.[18][19] After Swartz's death Poulsen launched the first instance of the platform at The New Yorker, on 15 May 2013.[20] Poulsen later turned over development of SecureDrop to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and joined the foundation's technical advisory board.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Kevin Poulsen lives in San Francisco with his wife and two children.[23]



  • Poulsen, Kevin (2011). Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground. Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-58868-5.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gissel, Richard (2005). Digital Underworld (August 23, 2005 ed.). p. 222. ISBN 1-4116-4423-9. Kevin Lee Poulsen was born in Pasadena, California in 1965. It was claimed that when he was 17 he used his radio shack TRS-80 to attack Arpanet, the predecessor of the Internet.
  2. ^ a b "Kevin Poulsen". livinginternet. 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2008.
  3. ^ "A Crime By Any Other Name..." FREEDOM Magazine. Vol. 27, no. 4. Archived from the original on January 16, 1999. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  4. ^ Littman, Jonathan (September 12, 1993). "The Last Hacker : He Called Himself Dark Dante. His Compulsion Led Him to Secret Files and, Eventually, the Bar of Justice" – via LA Times.
  5. ^ "Top 10 Most Famous Hackers of All Time". ITsecurity. 2007. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  6. ^ a b DeSantis, Jeannette (April 11, 1995). "Man Gets Longest Term for Hacker : Computers: Kevin Lee Poulsen, 29, of North Hollywood is ordered jailed for 51 months for rigging telephone lines during radio call-in contests". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  7. ^ "Former FBI agent creates system to predict insider threats at Dell | IT Business". October 31, 2014.
  8. ^ "Turns out Wargames' nuclear scenario is real".
  9. ^ "". Wired. 2004. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "". Wired. Archived from the original on June 2, 2006. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  11. ^ Kravets, David (January 23, 2012). "Threat Level - Privacy, Crime and Security Online". Wired. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  12. ^ "MySpace Predator Caught by Code". Wired News. October 16, 2006. Retrieved August 24, 2008.
  13. ^ "U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in Wikileaks Video Probe". Wired. June 10, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  14. ^ "Suspected Wikileaks Source Described Crisis of Conscience Leading to Leaks". Wired. June 10, 2010. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  15. ^ Miles, Frank (June 2, 2019). "Daily Beast accused of 'doxxing' alleged creator of 'Drunk Pelosi' video". Fox News. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  16. ^ Ingram, Mathew (June 3, 2019). "Should The Daily Beast have exposed the man behind 'drunk Pelosi' video?". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  17. ^ Conradis, Brandon (June 3, 2019). "Man accused of creating fake Pelosi video plans to sue Daily Beast". The Hill. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Kassner, Michael (May 20, 2013). "Aaron Swartz legacy lives on with New Yorker's Strongbox: How it works". TechRepublic. Archived from the original on July 29, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  19. ^ Paulsen, Kevin (May 15, 2013). "Strongbox and Aaron Swartz". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  20. ^ Davidson, Amy (May 15, 2013). "Introducing Strongbox". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  21. ^ "Freedom of the Press Foundation Launches SecureDrop, an Open-Source Submission Platform for Whistleblowers". October 15, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  22. ^ "Renowned Technologists, Journalists Join Freedom of the Press Foundation Technical Advisory Board". March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
  23. ^ "KINGPIN: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground".
  24. ^ a b "Webby Nominees". October 28, 2011. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  25. ^ "2010 Top Cyber Security Journalist Award Winners". SANS. July 24, 2009. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  26. ^ "min's 2010 Best of the Web Awards". MinOnline. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  27. ^ "Digital Hall of Fame: Kevin Poulsen, Senior Editor,". MinOnline. December 8, 2011. Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  28. ^ "Knight-Batten 2008 Winners » Projects » J-Lab". July 20, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  29. ^ "Knight-Batten 2007 Winners » Projects » J-Lab". July 20, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jonathan Littman, The Watchman: The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen, 1997, publisher: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-52857-9

External links[edit]