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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Show some balls Dateline
8/7/2007 8:00:05 AM
OK Dateline you got caught. Now run your piece now anyway. Put a spin on it that doesn't make your producer look like an utter idiot. That would be some real work.
And does anyone in Kansas want to know who is being hired by the Feds to hack for them? No really. Outside that small insular community of hackers does anyone really care? Will they watch Dateline? Or was the this little bit of reporting going to try and scare the hell out of the average American. When was the last time Dateline did a story that didn't try to scare the viewer senseless? The power of fear will make you watch TV. Information my shiny metal ass.
I can just imagine their catch line for this story. “Tonight on Dateline, (Ann Curry looking dead serious at the camera, connecting with the audience) Computer Hackers and the government handlers that pay them. What are they doing to the internet right now? And why is George Bush hiring them?”
I so wish that one of the networks would run a piece on this little editorial faux pas. I know it won't happen. But a guy has got to dream.
RE: Show some balls Dateline
8/7/2007 8:28:49 AM
Excellent, if a bit pissy, post!
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