I asked Eric O’Neill, Founder of The Georgetown Group and National Security Strategist for Carbon Black, to be on this show because I’ve never heard such a gripping story!
Eric is the former FBI Ghost who captured the most notorious spy in U.S. History, Robert Philip Hanssen. Eric’s story was made into the feature film Breach. Trust me, though, nothing compares to his real-life account of what happened!
You can find and follow Eric on Twitter at @EONeill.
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What can individuals do to protect themselves?
1) Pay Attention!
Pull your credit reports every year. There are three credit agencies and you get a free report from each every year. Review the reports and make sure that you don’t see things – credit cards open or debt that’s been created – that you don’t recognize. If you don’t recognize an item, you need to take action.
2) Be Careful, particularly in how you use social media. Assume that anything you place on social media will be public to everyone and that anyone can use it to exploit you. People forget that what you post stays on there forever. Be careful.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into cybersecurity?
Jobs are opening up in this area and now is a great time to be in cybersecurity! You must have a background in computers and understand them: systems administration, computer engineering and understanding processes. Systems engineering is also important, even if you aren’t a hands-on keyboard person.
Did the Hanssen case change you? If yes, how?
I think that it very much changed me. It taught me a certain way of approaching life. There is a science of being passive verses active. We can be passive and do enough just to get by. Or we can be active: we can push forward, always thinking of the next thing around the corner and pursuing life as opposed to just living it. I learned during the investigation that if I was going to catch Hanssen and win, it wasn’t going to be from just working the investigation and being safe. I had to actively attack the investigation and pursue it and I’ve employed that in everything I’ve done in my life since.
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