Eric O’Neill

 About

About Eric O'Neill - National Security Strategist at VMWare Carbon Black, Former FBI Agent, Bestselling Author & Speaker on Cybersecurity:

In 2001, Eric O’Neill helped capture the most notorious spy in United States history: Robert Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the FBI. The remarkable true events of his life are the inspiration behind the critically acclaimed dramatic thriller Breach, starring Ryan Philippe as O’Neill, and his bestselling novel Gray Day. The film set inside the FBI- the gatekeeper of the nation’s most sensitive and potentially volatile secrets – is the story of the greatest security breach in US history.

Preceding Hanssen’s arrest, O’Neill worked with the spy within the information assurance division that protected all classified FBI intelligence. O’Neill gained Hanssen’s trust and used that relationship to slowly draw the traitor out of deep cover.

O’Neill began his career in the FBI as a graduate of the FBI’s Intelligence Program. He spent the first five years of his 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 his target in conversation in order to elicit information needed to catch Hanssen 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 confidence within himself to battle Hanssen’s mind games and aggressive probing and learn to “stop reacting to Hanssen and begin acting.”

Currently, Eric O’Neill runs The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security consultancy, where he specializes in counterintelligence operations, investigations into economic espionage, cybersecurity penetrations, internal investigations, catching the trusted insider and security risk assessment consulting out of Washington, DC. Eric is also the National Security Strategist for Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection, where he provides insight and advice on strategic cyber-security issues and will work to ensure Carbon Black is an active participant in the conversation about the national strategy for cybersecurity.

O’Neill’s story is one of patriotism, of decisive action in the face of fear, and of learning to maintain confidence in ability even if it looks like success is impossible. He has told his story in national media, in print, on radio, and on television including 20/20, Nightline, Hardball with Chris Mathews, Fox News Power Player of the Week with Chris Wallace, CNN, CSPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” World News Now, MTV, and Access Hollywood.

A talented motivational speaker who weaves real-life experiences into a presentation that is both entertaining and rewarding, Eric O’Neill provides practical insights into real work situations relevant to many industries. In addition to his experience in the Hanssen case, he also addresses the issues of

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 Topics

What Eric O’Neill Talks About: 

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 During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm for cyberattacks. Millions of people are working from home, are distance learning and are engaging friends, family, clients and colleagues over unfamiliar and often unsecure platforms. Everyone is eager for information about the virus that has radically changed our lives. Criminals and spies have exploited the chaos surrounding the pandemic to steal our data, hijack our meetings, compromise our accounts, steal our finances and commit unprecedented levels of fraud. As the world has moved fully online, spies have sharpened their daggers and are feasting on the chaos.

  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) just revealed that cyberattack reports have quadrupled during the pandemic and that foreign spies are targeting COVID-19 research and the healthcare sector.
  • The US Department of Homeland Security and United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre recently warned that cyber criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to broadly target small, medium and large businesses and individuals.
  • The World Health Organization has reportedly seen attempted cyberattacks double since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, and a vaccine-testing facility has also been targeted with ransomware.
  • In April, Iran launched a cyber-attack against Israel’s industrial controls systems and sought to disrupt water and sewage facilities. Iran used American servers to stage the attack.
  • In May, a cybercriminal group posted more than 73 million user records from ten different companies on the dark web for auction.
  • Scams by criminal gray-marketers for personal protective equipment have skyrocketed as healthcare professionals face shortages of critical supplies.
  • Criminals, terrorists and spies thrive during a crisis.

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; Here’s 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.

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 Recent Publications

  • eric oneill book1 - Eric O'Neill

Eric O'Neill spoke at our Qualcomm Conference and our group was very pleased. He hit home the importance of being diligent to protect personal and company data - with many examples of ways we are being targeted. The threat is REAL, and people need to take it seriously.

Qualcomm

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