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Convicted hacker free to go online once again

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — No longer on probation, convicted computer hacker Kevin Mitnick can log on to the Internet for the first time in eight years.

Mitnick, 39, had been under strict probation since he was released from federal prison three years ago after serving a five-year sentence. He had been barred from contact with computers until last year and was not allowed to use the Internet until this week, after his probation ended Monday.

Mitnick became an icon to some hackers after leading the FBI on a three-year manhunt that ended in 1995. He is said to have cost companies millions of dollars by stealing their software and altering computer information. Victims included Motorola, Novell, Nokia and Sun Microsystems.

He pleaded guilty in 1999 to five felony counts and was given credit for four years served and released in 2000. He has said he planned to work for a computer security company that he was starting.