Some of the first crackers to become famous in the Black Hat way were Ronald Mark Austin and the members of the 414-gang. Based in Milwaukee, the gang started cracking remote computers as early as 1980. It was the 1983 discovery of their exploits—as noted in the movie War Games of 1983—that sparked global debate and anxieties about crackers and their abilities to compromise computer system security.
Their story goes like this: After they exploited a New York cancer hospital’s network, the 414-gang erased (supposedly by accident) a hospital file’s content as they were attempting to hide the traces of their exploits into the computer. The file was completely destroyed. As a result of this crack, the New York cancer hospital as well as U.S. companies and government agencies began to fear that confidential files are at continual risk of being intruded upon and being destroyed.
As an aside, after the 414-gang became famous, most hackers and crackers developed a liking for adding numbers either before or after their names, or for using a completely new handle such as Mafiaboy as an online identifier.
Schell, B.H., Dodge, J.L., with S.S. Moutsatsos. The Hacking of America: Who’s Doing It, Why, and How. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2002.