Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker, National Security Strategist at VMWare Carbon Black, Bestselling Author, Former FBI Operative, and Inspiration for the Film Breach
Eric O’Neill: Biography highlights
Eric O’Neill is a cybersecurity keynote speaker, former FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence operative, bestselling author of Gray Day, and the inspiration for the film Breach. Eric is also the founder of The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security services firm, and a National Security Strategist for Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint security.
Full biography of Eric O’Neill
About Eric O’Neill
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 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 will work to ensure VMWare-Carbon Black is 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, 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.
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 confidence and patriotism, the threat to United States security posed by terrorism, foreign intelligence services, the cyber threat to our national infrastructure and the national conscience in a monitored society.
Watch Eric in action
Eric was the perfect guest speaker for our event. With an audience of IT Security folks, he not only captivated the room with his thrilling espionage story, but also incorporated our latest cybersecurity report and other cybersecurity themes into his talk. Eric has a long of interesting topics he can speak on, and we hope that we can bring him back to speak again in the future.
Eric was a fantastic speaker, and exactly what we wanted for our audience of tech executives. His combination of a great story plus the cybersecurity expertise made his keynote compelling while also providing practical advice. We had a line out the door for his post-keynote book signing. Eric was extremely accommodating in helping us to promote his keynote in advance and signing extra books for our board members post-event.
Eric O'Neill is an engaging speaker, whose message of courage and determination resonates especially well with college students. Drawing on his own life experience as a spy hunter, O'Neill speaks with authenticity and candor about his work as an FBI Investigator. Speaking at Auburn University, for the Graduate School's New Horizon Lecture, O'Neill downplayed the Hollywood image of spies to emphasize the importance of hard work, perseverance, and the courage to act in ways that are true to your own beliefs. In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, O'Neill message is especially relevant. I highly recommend him as a speaker for college audiences or for anyone interested in cyber security.
Eric is simply brilliant. His energy, expertise and insight into the ever-changing cybersecurity industry is unparalleled. I had worked with Eric in the past for a live event, but was equally impressed with his ability to carry a virtual keynote presentation and deliver a high-quality, compelling experience for the remote audience. Eric goes out of this way to ensure his talk is aligned with your event goals, theme, and audience makeup. He asked the right questions in our pre-event brief, and customized his content to meet our needs. The feedback we received from our attendees was outstanding and we look forward to working with Eric again in the future.
Eric was a wonderful addition to our Company-wide Conference and, for many of our attendees, his presentation was the highlight. He was engaging, animated, charming and able to extract important and relevant business lessons from his experience with the FBI. I appreciated his candor, the tailoring of his message to our theme and the time he took to spend with our team. I'd recommend him as a speaker at any corporate event.
Eric's speaking topics
Cyber Security 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.
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.
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, cybersecurity 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.
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, cybersecurity 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.
The Human Element: The Weakest Link In Every Security System Is Not A Computer
Security professionals must not only look outward when securing a system, they must become spy hunters, looking for internal exploits and penetrations that may not be easy to detect. Includes an analysis of Robert Hanssen, Edward Snowden and other recent internal penetrations. This often humorous look at a sobering topic prepares organizations for a top down approach to hunting the trusted insider.
Surviving the Age of Social Media: What You Need To Know To Protect Yourself From Social Media Spies And Fraudsters
Hacking is the necessary evolution of espionage. As people have moved their lives, relationships and personal data online, spies have learned to exploit this data in order to steal identities, intellectual property and more. Learn the most critical ways that spies are stealing your data by leveraging your social media accounts and how you can take steps to stop them.