back to article NBC muckraker gets hacked at Defcon

A rare moment of drama came to Defcon when a woman fled the conference after being identified in front of hundreds of other attendees as an undercover television reporter on a crusade to expose collusion between cyber criminals and federal agents. The woman, identified by conference organizers as a producer for Dateline NBC, …


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  1. James O'Shea

    doesn't surprise me

    Dateline NBC are the guys who, when they wanted to 'expose' pickup trucks which, allegedly, would burn easily, attached pyrotechnics to examples of those trucks when they refused to catch fire on cue.

  2. b shubin

    Consider your prey

    if what you hunt is possibly smarter, more capable, or better-informed than you, it may be a good idea not to hunt it.

    honestly, Defcon is just about the last place i would try to gatecrash. this is the sort of venue that attracts curious, capable, relentlessly inquisitive, and probably quite intelligent people. they're likely to be self-taught critical thinkers (the US educational system sure doesn't teach that), and they probably like to push limits, legal, technical, or whatever.

    in conclusion, i think this was very unwise (well, just about the dumbest thing i've heard all year, actually). i wonder what her credit history, and her life in general, will be like for the next year or so. i'm sure there will be some at Defcon with an axe to grind, and they are the sort to grind it, too.

    such foolishness may well attract retribution, if only as an example to others...but not too much, i hope.

    if any of the axe grinders are reading this, please take it easy on this one, she doesn't deserve the heavy artillery.

    too easy a mark, i should think.

  3. Tom

    Strance things happen when the tables are turned

    Dateline (for those of you outside of the USA) has a history of "outing" internet predators (big pwople asking for kiddie dates or more). They go thru nasty things like setting up homes and the like to get these slime balls (generally a good idea). Now that they go to a place where it is they who are the ones "out of place" they seem to do the same thing as the slimeballs they chase (run like hell). If they really want to be good about it, they would do the on-air report anyway and re-enter with proper press credentials. Then they could get people to discuss what actually goes on.

    On the other hand, their latest expose was on the tracking of "snatched" iPods. Perhaps it wasn't a bad thing, as it could persuade Apple (no computer now) to track these things. Of course the way I use my iPod, it wouldn't be tracked, as I used all open source software to get it going.

  4. heystoopid

    She Ain't no Journalist!

    She ain't no journalist for she has no ethic's or respect for either the law or any person's constitutional rights.

    Alas her show she produces , is so disreputable and dishonest and so embroiled in entrapment , that neither the City , State and Federal Cops have any respect for her and the shoddy evidence she produces on the show week after week ! They politely decline to act on all her claims of any wrong doing because they know that even a sleepy judge would throw every one of her charges into the sewer as they are tainted and very very illegal!

    Sadly she is just one sensationalist vindictive vigilante masquerading as a journalist!

    As for defcon , a number of attendees reads like who's who of most of the US government three letter departments , including blue black and grey op's some of whom you will never find in any government phone directory , and have offices that look like your run of the mill Insurance company's , that seem to be unlisted in any phone book , to minimize callers! Most of these attendees prefer not to be photographed for very obvious reasons!

    She's just another vain glory hound , and her TV show is crap at the best of times and even makes Fox network look fair and balanced which it is not , because she is literally poison!

    Should NBS get a dose of ethics hers would be the first show to be canceled as it has no ethics as it resides well below the level of the sewer!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I concur

    I concur with b shubin. This woman really was clueless. You'd think, after the 3rd time she was asked if she wanted press credentials, that she would have wondered why she kept being asked that. (shaking head, laughing) She doesn't deserve a high orbital strike, people. Photoshoping her might be amusing, though

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NBC - the Not Bright Company

    NBC news and DateLine have switched to tabloid fluff news as entertainment. It is a sad day when living in the D.C. area, I have to turn on the BBC to find out what is going on in the world.

    But that is what people should expect of NBC - run like a rabbit when they get caught.

  7. Nexox Enigma

    I was there...

    I was in the room at the time, and she didn't bolt before we responded. DT (Jeff) asked us all what should happen to her, and a good portion of the crowd yelled "MURDER!"

    Then DT gave us the option of letting her stay or chasing her away, and then she bolted.

    Also there is a video of her in flight here:

    I'm not actually sure about that because I'm far too lazy to install flash on my system, but I have it on sketchy authority that it is the one you want to see.

    - Nex

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You radiate cold shafts of broken glass

    Anything that ends with a member of the press running in fear is a Good Thing, in my opinion.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course

    The press should know better than to stage an attack on the single most dangerous (not physically, but physical danger is NOTHING comparatively) group of people ever assembled.

    Knowing dateline, they're going to have a field day with this, though. They're going to claim that this is definitive proof of their idea.

    Unless the tapes dissapear. Which they probably will, knowing the governmental crowd at Defcon.

    I'm really dissapointed I didn't get to go this year.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good old defcon

    Oh lord she really didn't know what the hell she was doing did she anyone there can turn you into a cybertoad in an instant there isn't a service a

    group or an organisation that can keep these extremely brilliant extremely paranoid people from turning your life inside out and upside down computers run the world honey, these guys run computers.I can only hope that her stupid behavior has made her less tempting as a target and that the maturity level of the attendees is at it's higher point this year. The worst temptation is to add her to a group of guinea pig victims one uses every time one tests a vulnerability that could be as ugly as these things get (hundreds of vulnerabilities thousands of tests, madigan x).On the other hand I live in KS and I know what they are doing it's a useful conference and I think her ideas show vast ignorance.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Most of the people at defcon look like her, little known fact.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Good to see a tiny bit of justice once in a while. If anything, Dateline and all of its minions are similar character-wise to the lowest of identity thieves and spammers. Naturally, all of their 'exposes' are done for money, acclaim, and other baser human instincts. Proof that superior ethics and moral standards will sometimes triumph. These are intelligent, professional, (mostly) ethical people, not the two-bit child molesters that cower from Dateline. They (well, most of them) do what they do for curiosity and a true quest for knowledge and understanding. Compared to these folks, the Dateline crew are petulant children playing 'reporter.' If it weren't for the vast ignorance of the populace at large, programs like Dateline wouldn't flourish. Unfortunately, witch-hunt 'investigative reporting' like this does nothing to alleviate the world's woes or improve the situation for anyone.

  13. Gareth

    Dateline's Track Record

    Dateline is a horrifically sensationalist program - I'd imagine they were going to run with a story along the lines of "Federal Agents in Cahoots with Evil Hackers Who Are a Danger to The Children".

    Their Internet-predator entrapment programme "To Catch a Predator" is similarly ghoulish, they employ a bunch of over-zealous Internet vigilantes to lure predators to a house then pounce on them with cameras. Although this sounds like a good idea and makes for great ratings, it's pure vigilantisim and often the investigations are so botched they get thrown out of court while the predator walks free. One guy recently shot himself as a result of their tabloid interferences with a police investigation.

    The wonderful film "Network" was prophetic. News is now Entertainment, at least in America.

  14. Marco

    Call me a sexist...

    ...but these days it seems that especially young female journalists are very keen to prove themselves, no matter how, and generally think of themselves as very clever.

    In the old days there always was the viable option of the producer's couch and I bet Ms. Madigan, judging from here absolutely unprofessional behavior after being uncovered, just got a dose of reality and is now reconsidering her career options.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tables turned...

    It would be great if someone would have imitated a chris Hanson or Stone Philips voice asking her those dateline-type questions as she was trying to scurry off. It will be interesting to see if they try to put a story together after this incident.

    Here is a video of the whole thing if it has not bee posted already.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First Mistake

    A WOMAN at Defcon? Duuurrrr, next you'll be telling me that there are women on slashdot. Pah.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News is nothing but entertainment

    Never forget that. People watch the news in order to have the illusion of being informed; they are not actually given accurate, useful information. Shows like Dateline purport to uncover dark secrets, but only play on people's fears and ignorance. When reality is too dull, the media will create their own, more interesting fictions and present them as fact.

    Mark Twain summed it up nicely: "If you don't read the newspapers, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you are misinformed". Nothing has changed in the 100 years since he wrote that, other than the format in which the lies are presented.

  18. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well I've just watched it

    And I have to say that there is a reason why professional cameramen are called "professional". For Heaven's sake, the guy recording that video could hardly keep a stable image on the podium, so imagine what it was like to "chase" someone !

    Yep, shots of the floor, the ceiling and just about anything except the object of the "chase". Chase that was quite subdued by the time it got outside. I don't know about inside, since it was WAYYY to dark, but when outside, it would appear that the chase went at a leisurely stroll. She was even talking on the phone !

    I was expecting hordes of angry geeks running with caffeine-filled rage. What a disappointment !

  19. andy gibson

    Homer Simpson

    Is Dateline the same programme that did a stitch up of Homer Simpson when he explained that he tried to get the Gummy De Milo from the babysitter's rear?

  20. Busta Move


    You guys are a bunch of idiots.

    She was the mole they wanted you to find!!! Believe me, I know.

    Surely DEFCON is not that big of a push over.

    For a group of supposedly smart folks, I am disappointed.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Treasonous hacker?

    Agree with Busta Move. She was a decoy. The paper obviously paid a hacker to do the inside job.

  22. Hooch181

    Or even more tinfoil hats style...

    You two could be NBC hacks, trying to recover a story....


  23. this


    Looks a lot like Dana Sculley. I wonder if by any chance they're related?

  24. James Cleveland


    She's probably just a decoy. ;p

  25. Thomas Vestergaard


    How really really stupid to use a decoy, whom can be recognised and related to the show...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not So Fast

    I don't think under any circumstances a law enforcement officer should be at a "Conference" meeting with anybody who consistently, openly and knowingly break the law. Would any of you be comfortable with an agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) meeting with known or even suspected drug lords at a conference? Remember this – it does not take a thief to catch a thief, or a drug dealer to catch a drug dealer or a terrorist to catch a terrorist or a hacker to catch a hacker – that is simply an urban legend designed to glorify criminals as some special elite people who are smarter than the rest of us – ridiculous!

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