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. 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, cyber security 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 cyber security.
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.
Learn intricate details of the investigation that caught the most damaging spy in United States History. Robert Hanssen spied for the Soviet Union and Russia for over 22 years. The FBI had a very narrow window of just a few months to catch him. This is the story of how we succeeded in one of the most impressive undercover operations ever orchestrated by the FBI.
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 Edward Snowden and other recent internal penetrations.
This personal list was compiled over decades of work as an undercover operative in the FBI and security consultant. The keynote is a hot topic format of issues that are most critical to protecting information, set in a narrative of true stories that inform with actionable learning while they entertain. Issues looked at include: 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; and Preventing The Insider Threat.
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.
Recent years have seen a massive increase in cyber theft of private and confidential information from government agencies, business and private individuals. The modern spy is responsible for these attacks. Today’s spies are sophisticated, brilliant, devious and technologically advanced, and they are 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. Join Eric as he uses real-life spy stories to show how careful diligence, counter espionage techniques and restraint in social media can help identify the numerous spies, hackers, hacktivists and trusted insiders that threaten every stroke of the keyboard.
My story of acting to take control of any situation and excel, not just succeed, takes place in the center of the FBI’s most important espionage investigation. Imagine being locked 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 that the country depends on you to succeed despite the fact that no one has provided the means to do so. My story is not just an edge of your seat spy thriller. It is a story about discovering tools for success inside oneself by setting small goals that lead to big accomplishments until finally, through courage, confidence and determination, victory is achieved.
The global phenomenon of information sharing has created extraordinary innovation in communication, but has also become a gold mine for cyber criminals. This topic explores the current cyber threats facing industry, government and private individuals, from threats to national infrastructure, to corporate espionage and cyber terrorism, to identity theft and online fraud.
Cybersecurity: Ransomware is not only the top cybercrime for the last few years, it is a go-to tool for spies, terrorists and attackers. From 2015 to 2016 Ransomware attacks increased 2,500 percent and, according to the FBI, Ransomware cost consumers over $1 billion in 2016. Join Eric as he explains why Ransomware has taken the dark web by storm, why terrorists and spies are launching the largest Ransomware attacks, and easy steps that you and your organization can take to save your data. Eric’s keynote is topical, entertaining and does not focus on fear. Instead, Eric uses humor and real life lessons to make his audiences laugh while teaching them skills necessary to survive our digital world.
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.”
Mr. ONeills presentation was very engaging. He was able to translate his experiences into a thought-provoking presentation on risk management covering the investigation methods used and professional/life lessons learned with insight and humor.
“Now I’ve got to see the movie, Breach! Eric made an excellent presentation, keeping everyone on the edges of their seats!”
Eric is a consummate professional, with a relaxed demeanor, he was the absolute hit of our event! We had a record attendance at our meeting, and due to his great presentation we have new exposure for our ISACA chapter!