Hackers and Media Hype or Big Hacks That Never Really Happened

Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012), July 15, 2012, 11 a.m. (60 minutes)

Media will often report “hacks” that either never actually happened or have extremely flimsy evidence. They then become major news stories through media hype while the reality is seldom reported at the same level. This talk will closely examine several instances of such stories and compare the hype with the reality. Examples will include Kevin Mitnick’s compromise of NORAD, the use of steganography by Al Qaeda, the electrical blackout in Brazil, the failure of a water pump in Illinois, and others. Close attention will be paid to the media’s role in presenting these stories and how they morphed from purely circumstantial to quoted facts. The structure of a hyped story will be examined so that it can be easily identified and methods of combating the hype will be discussed.


  • Cris Thomas / Space Rogue as Space Rogue
    Space Rogue is widely sought after for his unique views and perceptions of the information security industry. He has testified before Congress and has been quoted in numerous media outlets. He was an early member of the security research think tank L0pht Heavy Industries and helped co-found the Internet security consultancy @Stake. He created the widely popular Hacker News Network, which, not once but twice, became a major resource for information security news. Space Rogue currently works as the threat intelligence manager for Trustwave SpiderLabs.


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