NBC Mole Busted at Annual Hacker Convention
August 6, 2007 5:20 PM
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NBC's Michelle Madigan bolted out of the convention, embarassed and humiliated. Typically winners of the "Spot the Fed" game at DefCon stay for the duration of the convention.
Hackers at DEFCON outsmart mole sent in to uncover information for Dateline NBC
Every year in Vegas, a conference consisting of industry leading computer and network hackers gather for an event called DEFCON. Usually, you can find -- or not -- undercover federal agents at the event. The agents attend DEFCON to gather information on the latest trends and techniques employed by hackers. The goal for the attendees is to exchange information on the latest security information and for the agents, to be prepared for new types of attacks.
DEFCON has strict rules on who attends and what they can and cannot do, bring and take from the event. Journalists are allowed to attend the event but must sign strict agreements. This year, Dateline NBC
sent along producer Michelle Madigan to DEFCON as an undercover mole
. Unfortunately for Madigan, DefCon staff members are highly suspicious people and she fell into a trap set up by the staff members.
Madigan signed up for the event as a regular attendee, thereby bypassing some of the rules imposed onto regular press members. A tipster notified DEFCON staff that the reporter was a mole sent in by NBC for the television series
. On four separate occasions she declined press credentials.
Aware of the reporter, DEFCON staff monitored Madigan as she recorded events during the show with a hidden camera, against event policy.
In good nature, DEFCON usually holds a contest called "Spot the Fed", where attendees attempt to point out a real undercover federal agent. This time when Madigan was on the show floor, DEFCON staff lured Madigan into a room with other people and DEFCON founder Jeff Moss announced that the game would be changed from spotting a fed to spotting an undercover reporter.
"And there's one in here right now," announced Moss.
Realizing that she was caught, Madigan bolted from her seat and dashed out of the event. Following her was a mob of over 20 reporters, all with cameras snapping and all running after her for an interview. Madigan was chased outside of the building and into the parking lot, all the way to her car.
Madigan claimed that she was sent to try and uncover federal agents that attend the event.
According to ZDNET blogger George Ou
, who attended the event, Madigan's real intentions during the show were to show middle-America "what's really going on at DEFCON."
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8/6/2007 6:04:14 PM
I went to a DefCon a long time ago. The feds and organizers have somewhat of an uneasy truce for the most part.
If anyone saw "Shattered Glass" or was around the internet long enough to remember "Hack Heaven," you might know that some elements of Defcon were introduced in the TNR "report" and the movie.
Reporters that fabricate or take the event out of context are public enemy #1 during the show :) -- and that doesn't matter whose side you're on.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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