Eric O'Neill | Cybersecurity Expert, Former FBI Operative Featured in the Film Breach, Bestselling Author, Technology Futurist, and National Security Strategist

Eric O'Neill

Cybersecurity Expert, Former FBI Operative Featured in the Film Breach, Bestselling Author, Technology Futurist, and National Security Strategist

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Eric O'Neill

Best known for his role in capturing the most notorious spy in United States history, Robert Hanssen, Eric O’Neill is a cybersecurity keynote speaker, former FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence operative, technology futurist, and practicing attorney. He is the bestselling author of Gray Day, and the inspiration for the film Breach, in which he was portrayed by actor Ryan Phillipe. O’Neill is the founder of The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security services firm, and a national security strategist for VMware Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint security. In addition to cybersecurity, he also addresses the new SEC cybersecurity reporting requirements, the threat to U.S. security posed by terrorism, cyber threats to critical infrastructure, foreign intelligence, and the national conscience in a monitored society.

A talented motivational speaker who weaves real-life experiences worthy of Hollywood spy thrillers and bestseller lists into talks that are as entertaining as they are inspiring, Eric O’Neill provides practical cybersecurity insights into real work situations relevant to many industries. Key to his presentations are his captivating first-hand accounts of his role in capturing the most notorious spy Robert Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who was responsible for the greatest security breach in U.S. history. The story was captured in O’Neill’s bestselling book, Gray Day, and the critically-acclaimed thriller Breach, starring Ryan Philippe as O’Neill.

Eric O’Neill began his career in counterintelligence and counterterrorism as a graduate of the FBI’s Intelligence Program. He spent the first five years of his FBI career as a special surveillance group field operative tasked to surveil and monitor foreign, national, and domestic terrorists and spies. He transitioned from field operative to direct undercover work focusing on Hanssen. Although his prior training had focused on “ghosting” targets from the shadows, he engaged Hanssen in conversation to  elicit the information needed to catch him in the act of espionage. The singular nature of the assignment, one with little backup or support, required O’Neill to draw from deep reserves of courage and inner confidence to deflect Hanssen’s mind games and learn to “stop reacting to Hanssen and begin acting.”

Currently, Eric O’Neill is the National Security Strategist for VMWare-Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection, where he provides insight and advice on strategic cyber-security issues and ensures that they are an active participant in the conversation about the national strategy for cybersecurity. He is also a founding partner of The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security consultancy specializing in counterintelligence operations, investigations into economic espionage, cybersecurity penetrations, internal investigations, catching the trusted insider, and security risk. As an attorney, O’Neill also serves as the general counsel and chief ethics officer for Global Communities, a charitable humanitarian relief organization serving 20 million people each year.

In addition to his book and the movie it inspired, O’Neill has told his story on CNN, ABC, Fox, MTV, and NPR, including programs such as NightlineHardball with Chris MathewsFox News Power Player of the Week with Chris Wallace, CSPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry GrossWorld News Now, and Access Hollywood.

His speaking engagements include Fortune 100 companies and strategic clients such as AT&T, Salesforce, TIAA, IBM, Dell, Raymond James & Associates, Roche Diagnostics, and Allstate.

Eric O'Neill
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Eric O'Neill
Featured Keynote Programs

Gray Day
How I Caught the Most Damaging Spy in American History

Imagine if the FBI locked you in a room for eight hours a day with the most ruthless and damaging spy in United States history. Imagine feeling unqualified and outgunned, knowing the country depends on you to succeed despite the fact no one has provided the means to do so. Robert Hanssen was a notorious cyber spy charged with selling American secrets to Russia for more than US$1.4 million in cash and diamonds. His ability to exploit computer systems allowed him to protect his identity during a 22-year spy career. In this edge-of-the-seat spy thriller talk, Eric O’Neill shares intricate details of the investigation and shows how you can find success inside yourself by setting small goals that lead to big accomplishments until finally, through courage, confidence, and determination, victory is achieved.

Cybersecurity in the Age of Espionage

Experts predict that the cyber theft of private and confidential information from government agencies, business, and private individuals will reach $6 trillion annually by 2021. The modern spy is responsible for these sophisticated, brilliant, devious, and technologically advanced attacks targeting your data. Robert Hanssen was the first of these new cyber spies, charged with selling American secrets to Russia for more than US$1.4 million in cash and diamonds. His ability to exploit computer systems allowed him to protect his identity during a 22-year spy career. In this exciting and informative talk, Eric O’Neill uses real-life spy stories and a review of recent massive cyber-attacks to show how careful diligence, counter-espionage techniques, and restraint in social media can help identify the numerous spies, hackers, cyber criminals and trusted insiders that threaten every stroke of your keyboard.

Data Is The Currency Of Our Lives; This Is How You Protect It

In the information age, your company’s most precious asset is data. How can you keep it secure? In this lively and informative talk, cyber-security expert, author and spy hunter Eric O’Neill uses true stories informed by decades of work as an undercover operative in the FBI and security consultant to help you protect your information. Audiences will learn about the need for diligence; critical areas in physical security; phishing and email hacks; social media do’s and don’ts; how spies recruit; economic espionage; preventing the insider threat; and why it is important to hunt the threat before the threat hunts you.

Cyber Spies Are Holding Your Data Hostage; This Is How You Stop Them

Ransomware is not only the most damaging and costly cybercrime, it is a go-to tool for spies, terrorists, and attackers. Over the last three years, ransomware attacks increased 2,500 percent and security experts predict that this economic boom industry will cost $11.5 million by 2019. In this lively and entertaining talk, cyber-security expert Eric O’Neill uses humor and stories to explain why ransomware has taken the dark web by storm, why terrorists and spies are launching the largest ransomware attacks, how a single email can cause catastrophic damage and the easy steps you and your organization can take to save your data.

Eric O'Neill
Featured Book

Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America's First Cyber Spyby Eric O'Neill

Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America's First Cyber Spy

by Eric O'Neill
A cybersecurity expert and former FBI “ghost” tells the thrilling story of how he helped take down notorious FBI mole Robert Hanssen, the first Russian cyber spy.

“Both a real-life, tension-packed thriller and a persuasive argument for traditional intelligence work in the information age.”—Bruce Schneier, New York Times bestselling author of Data and Goliath and Click Here to Kill Everybody

Eric O’Neill was only twenty-six when he was tapped for the case of a lifetime: a one-on-one undercover investigation of the FBI’s top target, a man suspected of spying for the Russians for nearly two decades, giving up nuclear secrets, compromising intelligence, and betraying US assets. With zero training in face-to-face investigation, O’Neill found himself in a windowless, high-security office in the newly formed Information Assurance Section, tasked officially with helping the FBI secure its outdated computer system against hackers and spies—and unofficially with collecting evidence against his new boss, Robert Hanssen, an exacting and rage-prone veteran agent with a fondness for handguns. In the months that follow, O’Neill’s self-esteem and young marriage unravel under the pressure of life in Room 9930, and he questions the very purpose of his mission. But as Hanssen outmaneuvers an intelligence community struggling to keep up with the new reality of cybersecurity, he also teaches O’Neill the game of spycraft. The student will just have to learn to outplay his teacher if he wants to win.
A tension-packed stew of power, paranoia, and psychological manipulation, Gray Day is also a cautionary tale of how the United States allowed Russia to become dominant in cyberespionage—and how we might begin to catch up.

Eric O'Neill
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