L0pht was originally founded by Boston-area hackers in 1992 as a collective space for the members to store computer equipment and conspire on various computer-related projects. As computing became increasingly consumer-facing, the members quit their day jobs and formed a for-profit venture known as L0pht Heavy Industries which they called a "think tank."
In 1997, during the first black hat briefings, Mudge, a stalwart member of the group who went on to work at both Google and DARPA, coined the term "gray hat" in reference to a hacker that didn't mind breaking the law in order to expose security flaws.
In 1999, the group was profiled by the New York Times. A member of the National Security Council, Jeffrey Hunker, spoke highly of L0pht in the course of this interview, saying:
L0pht has carved out an interesting niche for itself and for similar-minded people -- white-hatted hackers. Their objective is basically to help improve the state of the art in security and to be a gadfly, so to speak -- to identify products that have vulnerabilities and make certain those vulnerabilities get fixed.
According to the same article, L0pht themselves were less than enthusiastic about Hunker's interpretation of their careers.
The group stopped actively hacking in 2000, but L0phtcrack, perhaps their most famous contribution, exists to this day for later 64-bit Windows systems. They merged their operations with a group called @stake and in 2004 this new, white hat company was purchased by Symantec, which makes the Norton line of consumer security products.
As a thinktank, L0pht still appears to exist, making regular blog posts as of July, 2015.
The complete list of people associated with L0pht over time is as follows:
- Brian Oblivion
- Count Zero
- Golgo 13
- Space Rogue
- Weld Pond
However, as of December, 2015, the only members listed on l0pht.com] are as follows: