In the Monday morning general session at the 2018 NECA Show, attendees were treated to a talk by cyber security experts Christopher Tarbell and Hector Monsegur, who were once on opposite sides of a criminal investigation, one as an FBI special agent and the other a black-hat hacker. The pair detailed their stories and shared their expertise in cyber security.
As a law enforcement official, Tarbell was responsible for infiltrating the hacker group Anonymous, bringing down the dark web drug trafficking site Silk Road, and arresting some of the most infamous hackers, including Monsegur, who was known at the time by his internet persona "Sabu." Among other hacking activities, Monsegur involved himself in the Tunisia protests of the Arab Spring, hacking communications, cell service, and affecting police officials to disrupt Tunisian government activities.
The pair met after Tarbell received a tip to bring down the infamous hacker and came to Monsegur’s door as part of a raid, complete with bullet-proof vests and battering rams. Later Monsegur helped Tarbell to bring down the six-man, international hacking group LulzSec. Since then, Monsegur has helped U.S. and commercial security executives around the world prevent over 300 major cyber attacks.
Both have since moved on into cyber security work. Tarbell is a director for the strategic advisory and consulting firm Berkeley Research Group, New York. Monsegur is now the Director of Assessment Services with Rhino Security Labs, Seattle.
After sharing their story, Tarbell and Monsegur took audience questions. They explained that most ransomware and similar attacks begin through Microsoft Word or Excel files in emails. They suggested that attendees actively update their systems, run quarterly tests to teach employees and lower their frequency of clicking on malicious links.