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Hacking. Hackers. Disinformation campaigns. Encryption. The Cyber. This stuff gets complicated really fast, but Motherboard spends its time embedded in the infosec world so you don't have to. Host Ben Makuch talks every week to Motherboard reporters Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox about the stories they're breaking and to the industry's most famous hackers and researchers about the biggest news in cybersecurity.

Episode Date
Whatever Happened To Anonymous?

At its height, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous was the bane of Scientologists, the FBI, CIA, Mastercard, Paypal, Middle Eastern dictatorships, and in its latest effective iterations, even ISIS.

But in recent years, Anonymous has all but disappeared. It leaves a legacy: It single-handedly brought back the Guy Fawkes mask as a true symbol of civil disobedience, was the obvious inspiration for the hit TV show Mr. Robot, and is also associated with all sorts of more nefarious and negative aspects of trolling culture. In its wake, hacktivism hasn’t dried up altogether, either, with entities like Phineas Fisher still making headlines and taking up its mantle as an online vigilante force challenging the powerful.

This week on CYBER we have Biella Coleman, a professor of anthropology at McGill University in Montreal who wrote the comprehensive book on the group—Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous—to talk about what became of the infamous collective. 

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Jan 16, 2020
Iranian Hacker Hysteria

If you’re at all plugged into the global news cycle, you’ll know the U.S. assassinated Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani, a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and leader of the secretive Quds Force.

Since that night, experts have been wondering what the blowback from Tehran will be. Naturally, in the age of cyberwarfare, people are getting pretty worried about the threat of Iranian hackers, who, if you were to believe some newscasts, are practically hiding in your modem.

There are some real and some overblown threats from Iranian hackers now facing the U.S. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that it was logging increased cyberattacks emanating from the Iranian regime on American networks.

But how worried should we be?

On this week’s CYBER we have Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox who is already tracking alleged Iranian hackers defacing American websites, to discuss what Tehran’s hackers are actually capable of hacking.

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Jan 09, 2020
Re-run: Edward Snowden on Julian Assange, the Mueller Report, and Press Freedom

On this week's CYBER we're re-upping our longform interview of none other than Mr. Edward Snowden, a person who might've affected the infosec world more than any singular human over the last decade. We'll be back next week with a fresh new episode for our 2020 season.

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Jan 02, 2020
Trolls, Hackers, Spies: The Cyber Decade

It occurred to us at Motherboard that for this final episode of CYBER in the 2010s we could recount the year in stories that we’ve done. The real scoopstraffic hogs, and think pieces. But then again, this is the decade that changed infosec. This was the decade that made hackers critical players on the world stage, our personal digital information sacred, and our political systems fixed into some strange, social media hellscape. 

Since its founding in 2009, Motherboard has seen it all with you.

So on this episode of CYBER, our dear editor-in-chief Jason Koebler and host Ben Makuch will take you through from the beginning of the decade to its end: from Guy Fawkes masks, strings of weaponized code to your brain being manipulated by a Facebook ad.

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Dec 26, 2019
The Hacker In My Ring Camera: A Tale of Trolls And A Podcast

Imagine installing security cameras in your house to protect your family. Then one day those cameras start talking to you. Trolling you, in fact.

After last week when the news broke that Amazon’s super sketchy security camera company Ring, had its products compromised, Motherboard got even more scoop: There’s a livestream-podcast over a Discord channel where hackers take over people's Ring cameras and use their speakers to troll its owners in the comfort of their own homes.

Then Motherboard tested the security of Ring and found, well, Ring accounts are lacking basic security measures.

On this week’s CYBER we have our reporter Joseph Cox, who broke the stories, to tell us more. 

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Dec 19, 2019
Where Our Cell Phones Go When We Recycle Them

This week we talk to Adam Minter, author of “Secondhand,” about the end-of-life supply chain for our cell phones, computers, and all the other stuff we keep in our houses.

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Dec 12, 2019
How Big Telcos Just Made Your Phone Easier To Hack

Researchers learned that telecom companies are implementing the successor to SMS in vulnerable ways, making everyone’s text messages unsafe.

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Dec 06, 2019
The CYBER Cypher EP

On this week's episode we introduce the newly named "Cypher" part of the show where we round up the tech stories of the week that we think you need to know. On deck we discuss infamous hacker Phineas Fisher and an actual investigation called: "Who farted?"

We'll be off next week for Thanksgiving, because Ben is going back to Canadia. Good luck eating too much, everyone!

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Nov 21, 2019
How Scary Is Critical Infrastructure Hacking?

Some of the most fascinating hacks are the types that don’t just pwn a shady malware company, the trade secrets of America or embarass the Democratic National Committee, but the kinds that target water systems, nuclear power plants and the oil and gas sector.

Critical infrastructure hacking was brought into the public psyche by former Secretary of State and CIA director, Leon Panetta, in a much taunted 2012 speech where he warns of a coming “Cyber Pearl Harbour.” 

On this week’s CYBER we have Selena Larson, a former CNN reporter and cyber threat intelligence analyst working over at Dragos which is a leading cybersecurity company that specializes in critical infrastructure security, to tell us what we should be realistically worried about and if she believes Panetta’s speech has any merit in 2019.

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Nov 14, 2019
How Google Torpedoed A Cybersecurity Rising Star

It’s the classic story of a corporate giant swallowing up a darling startup into its ranks and destroying its core business.

Originally a spawn of the Alphabet company—Google’s parent umbrella—Chronicle was a cybersecurity startup considered by many to be a game changer: it was going to leverage machine learning and Alphabet’s endless supply of malware samples and technical data via Google, and fuse it into an over the counter product that infosec units in companies all over the world could use to make the Internet better for everyone. 

It seemed, to many, this was a cybersecurity company that wasn’t hawking snakeoil, but a real, helpful product. And part of its allure was that Chronicle would not join its corporate overlord outright, but instead remain independent of Google.

Then it was announced they were going to join Google and everyone jumped ship. Now, as one employee put it, “Chronicle is dead.” In other words, one of the cybersecurity industry's most promising startups is falling apart after one of the most profitable companies in the world took it over. 

This week we have Lorenzo Francheschi Bichierrai on the show to tell us about the internal struggles of Chronicle.

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Nov 07, 2019
The Assassination of Blogger Martin Kok

The tale started with an encrypted phone company, Morroccan gangsters, the Scottish mafia, and a blogger. It ended with an assassination outside of a sex club in Amsterdam.

Last week, Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox broke the news that MPC—a Scottish company that hawked special encrypted phones that could evade police surveillance—had been connected to the murder of crime blogger Martin Kok. Kok was a former criminal himself who had previously served a jail sentence for two murders.

Kok’s crime blogging had gotten him on the wrong side of the Gillespie brothers, two Scots who are still operating a highly sophisticated drug and gun running operation connected to South American cartels, as well as Morroccan gangster associates. They allegedly hatched a successful plan to kill him in December 2016.

On this week’s episode of CYBER, Cox goes into detail about how this criminal syndicate carried out Kok's murder, and what it means for crime in 2019 when the mafia isn’t buying encrypted phones, but making them for itself.

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Oct 31, 2019
Inside the U.S. Cyber Army

The U.S. military prides itself on being one of the most powerful militaries on the face of the earth. The best trained, the best equipped with the latest wartech, the most mobile, with a power projection around the world. It’s why, sadly, as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism—which tracks U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia—maintains that the American military has killed as many as over 12,000 people in targeted strikes since 2004. Of those numbers, close to 1,800 are civilians and up to nearly 400 of that number, are kids.

There’s even been consideration on whether or not the U.S. military could have at on point taken on the entire world in the kinetic reality of ground, air, and sea war. 

But in 2019, the American war machine doesn’t simply need soldiers,helicopters, or F-22s. It needs hackers to infiltrate secure networks, to spy, or disrupt critical infrastructure of an enemy during any given military operation. 

In order to professionalize and certify its importance within the military, the Department of Defense officially elevated “Cyber Command” as its cyberspace force in 2018 to do just that, giving it the distinction of being one of its eleven “unified combatant commands.” 

In other words, USCYBERCOM (as its known for short) joins other permanent forces that are designated across DoD with a broad mandate during times of peace and war. For example, the special forces has its own Special Forces Command, while AFRICOM looks after African centric military operations. 

According to its mission statement, USCYBERCOM first defends DoD assets, then it’s responsible for “providing support to combatant commanders for execution of their missions around the world, and strengthening our nation's ability to withstand and respond to cyber attack.”

Already there are media reports showing USCYBERCOM coordinating hacking operations against ISIS with the help of the NSA and carrying out a top secret “strike” on Iranian government propaganda wings in response to Tehran’s attacks on a Saudi oil field. 

On this week’s CYBER we’ve got Dave Weinstein, a former member of USCYBERCOM and the now CSO of cybersecurity firm Claroty, to give us the inside tract on how this new American cyber army functions.

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Oct 24, 2019
Girls Do Porn

The operators of a site called Girls Do Porn have been indicted on charges of sex trafficking. Meanwhile, 22 women have sued the company, saying they were coerced into doing porn. How did the company get away with it for so long?

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Oct 17, 2019
How Neo-Nazi Terrorists Are Organizing Online

Neo-Nazi terrorists are taking a page from ISIS' playbook and carrying out calculated, horrific, mass casualty attacks all over the world to shock and scare of the public.

And they’re taking another tip from the infamous terrorist group: using internet savvy and encrypted networks to spread propaganda, recruit new members, and ultimately orchestrate terrorism. They have even used famous jihadist images of Osama bin Laden in their propaganda and glorify ISIS videos.

After a spate of high-profile deplatforming campaigns on more mainstream social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the far-right retreated to the more covert corners of the internet, taking up on platforms like Minds. Recently, and similarly to ISIS, neo-Nazis have begun using Telegram for everything from shitposting to coordinating terrorist activities.

On this week’s CYBER we’ve got VICE News reporter Tess Owen to talk about her scoop on neo-Nazi terror and its relationship to Telegram.

Follow Ben on Twitter.

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Oct 10, 2019
Lyft and Uber Are Having a Terrible, Awful, No-Good Time

The last few months have been decidedly horrible for rideshare apps Uber and Lyft, which were once the darlings of Wall Street investors who contributed billions of dollars in venture capital to help them disrupt an entire industry.


Now, there’s trouble on the horizon.


Lyft has been sued for sexual assault by at least 26 passengers in recent months. One driver was allowed to continue operating on the platform after a truly horrifying incident: He and several other men allegedly took a passenger intended for Crown Heights to a park in New Jersey, where they violently assaulted her. Another driver was permitted by Lyft to continue giving over 700 rides after severely beating one of his passengers, stomping his head into the ground. 


Lyft users are alleging a robotic and inefficient complaint system shows Uber’s biggest rival cares more about profits than the safety of its clients.

Then, there’s Lyft rival Uber, which has been posting major losses after the biggest IPO of 2019.

Now. the question is: are rideshares unsafe and unfit for our current world? On today’s episode of CYBER, new Motherboard reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley tells us all about how Lyft and Uber have a lot to answer for.  

Follow Ben and Lauren on Twitter.

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Oct 04, 2019
The Spy Who (Allegedly) Screwed Us

Catch the rat. Find the mole. It’s the classic scenario of a spy thriller. 

Recently, a top spy in the Five Eyes collective—the secretive espionage and intel sharing alliance between agencies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia—was caught trying to sell top secret information.

An FBI investigation of Phantom Secure, the encrypted cell phone provider which sold devices to Mexican cartels, uncovered a secret Canadian mole  who allegedly offered its CEO Vincent Ramos intel on the investigations surrounding his company.

Without knowing the anonymous leaker, the Canadian feds began the slow process of paring down the list of who the potential mole could be. This led them to a top cybersecurity expert and head of an intelligence unit that had access to not only Canadian spycraft, but to international intelligence shared between the top secret collective. 

James Ortis, the alleged mole, had his hands on things like heavily guarded NOC lists (“Non-Official-Cover" spies, or double agents in the employ of intelligence agencies), international terrorism investigations, the clandestine surveillance records of cartels, and much more.

The leak is so unprecedented for Canada, the usually cagey RCMP, the country’s federal policing agency, issued an uncharacteristically forthright statement following Ortis’ arrest.

“The charges against a senior employee of the RCMP for alleged criminality under the Criminal Code and the Security of Information Act have shaken many people throughout the RCMP, particularly in Federal Policing,” it said. “While these allegations, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, Canadians and our law enforcement partners can trust that our priority continues to be the integrity of the investigations and the safety and security of the public we serve.”

Just what else was leaked, and the fallout from Ortis’ alleged betrayal has yet to be determined, but a breach from the “insider threat”—an employee of a spy agency—is almost impossible to defend against. As it stands, it appears Ortis wasn’t doing this on ideological grounds, like say, a communist-sympathizing Westerner who might’ve sold to the KGB during the Cold War. Instead, it was for cash. That means the list of suitors for that type of intel could range from hostile foreign powers like Russia or China, to bikers and mafia outfits.

Ortis is charged with five criminal counts including the rarely used Canadian version of the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the leaking of secrets to a foreign power. He is awaiting trial in Canada. It’s believed his arrest is expected to be part of a global intelligence operation that will crackdown on a global, covert network of intel leakers.

To breakdown this monumental intelligence breach on CYBER, we have former Canadian spy Stephanie Carvin, who is a former CSIS (Canadian CIA) analyst turned academic at Carleton University and host of the Intrepid Podcast.

“You don't often hear the term Canadian spy,” said Carvin, but nonetheless this is “a serious story because the consequences could be so potentially... For information regarding your data privacy, visit

Sep 26, 2019
The Private Surveillance System Tracking Cars in America

In just a few taps and clicks, the system, made by a private company, shows where a car has been seen throughout the U.S. Tipped by a private investigator source, Joseph Cox broke the news that a powerful system used by an industry including repossession agents and insurance companies tracks cars across the US. Armed with just a car's plate number, the tool—fed by a network of private cameras spread across the country—provides users a list of all the times that car has been spotted.

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Sep 19, 2019
The Biggest iPhone Hack In History, Explained

At the end of August, researchers at Google dropped a bombshell: they had discovered malicious websites that they said were indiscriminately spreading iPhone malware for years. At certain points the websites were even using zero day exploits; attacks that take advantage of vulnerabilities that Apple is not aware of. 

Apple subsequently confirmed what various media reports found: that the malicious sites were particularly geared towards hacking Uighur muslims, many of whom live in Western China under intense surveillance from the government. Apple disputed some details from Google, such as the length of the campaign, but this is still likely the biggest iPhone hack we know about so far.

On this week's episode of CYBER, we talk to Motherboard Senior Staff Writer Joseph Cox about Google's research, and what it means for how governments deploy iPhone malware: it turns out, on a much larger scale than we previously thought.

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Sep 12, 2019
The Cyberwar In Yemen

By most accounts, the war in Yemen is a brutal and lethal  tragedy of the modern world that has claimed the lives of thousands of people. 

With the backing of western military industrial power, the Saudi-led coalition has undertaken a relentless bombing campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels that ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and his regime from the capital Sanaa in 2015.

Human rights watchers have accused the Saudis and its allies of war-crimes and a string of attacks against civilians. Just this last weekend the International Red Cross said the Saudis had killed over 100 people in a single strike on a detention center. 

And as the kinetic war rolls out IRL, the Yemeni people have also been casualty to a silent war: one that’s online.

On this week’s episode we sit down with Winnona DeSombre, a threat intelligence researcher at RecordedFuture to talk about how cyberwarfare and espionage has been a serious feature in the war in Yemen.

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Sep 05, 2019
How to Track Malware

We’ve all heard of high profile hacks, like Stuxnet which basically took out the Iranian nuclear program, or that time when Seth Rogen’s stoner comedy made North Korea really, really pissed off and they hacked Sony.

And the key to all of these hacks is malware, or software specifically and intentionally designed to damage computer systems. 

But one thing some people often ask themselves is: what is malware, exactly? Well, ultimately just some lines of code. On this week’s CYBER we have someone who researches it for a living: malware analyst Tarik Salah of Domain Tools.

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Aug 29, 2019
Forget Russian Trolls, American Voting Systems Can Be Hacked

Imagine a world where one of our most critical instruments of democracy, voting systems, are connected to the internet where they are potentially vulnerable to hacking.

Well, thanks to the work of Motherboard contributor Kim Zetter, we now know that’s the reality we live in after she broke the story that researchers had found voting systems online, including systems in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida—all well known for being key swing states in presidential elections.

But for years election officials have said our voting systems, used for closely fought Presidential election of 2016 and in 2012 when it was Romney versus Obama, weren’t even on the internet and thus, they said, unhackable.

CYBER recently caught up with Kim to discuss her massive scoop and how Russian troll armies might not be the thing threatening American democracy or scaring the intelligence community tasked with protecting it come 2020. 

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Aug 22, 2019
Inside Def Con: World's Biggest Hacker Gathering

For over 25 years, hackers, spies, cops, Silicon Valley bros, technologists and even politicians descend upon Las Vegas, Nevada for what’s become the pre-eminent hacker conference in the entire world: Def Con.

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Aug 15, 2019
Why The FBI Arrested the Hacker Who Saved the World From WannaCry (with Marcy Wheeler)

Two years ago, Marcus Hutchins, better known by his hacker name ‘MalwareTech,’ was at the Las Vegas International Airport awaiting his flight back home to the United Kingdom (UK). He was hungover and coming back from Def Con, the biggest hacker conference in the world.

And that’s when the feds came in and nabbed him.

But earlier that same year the 23-year-old security researcher was hailed as a global hero for stopping the spread of the WannaCry ransomware worm, which disabled companies and even paralyzing computer systems in hospitals in the UK. But instead of accolades from the state, he found himself facing an FBI indictment.

The U.S. government accused Hutchins of creating and conspiring to distribute a banking malware called Kronos in 2014, when he was 19. His arrest enthralled the cybersecurity community and set off a legal fight that finally ended just last week. Hutchins, who was potentially facing years in prison, was free and sentenced to time served

It has been a two year journey for Hutchins and on this week’s CYBER, Marcy Wheeler, an acclaimed journalist who covers national security, will tell us all about his ordeal and what his case has done to stoke the fears of the FBI within the infosec community.

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Aug 08, 2019
The Phone Farmers Who Fake Netflix Ad Views for Cash

Did you know you could make money watching Netflix trailers on your phone? Did you know that people have earned close to $2,000 a month programming hundreds of phones to watch Netflix trailers, video game trailers, celebrity gossip shows, and sports? 

But the trick is, no one is really watching. 

This is what’s called phone farming. Just imagine rows upon rows of phones, with fans cooling them that simulate the engagement of a real human. On this week’s episode of CYBER, Motherboard’s Joseph Cox dove into this world by making his own mini phone farm, talking to the real farmers who made the cash creating them to give us the inside story on how this bizarre phenomenon actually works.

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Aug 01, 2019
One of the World’s Most Wanted Hackers Speaks

The last time Phineas Fisher agreed to an interview with Motherboard, they made us recreate the whole thing with a puppet

This time around, Phineas Fisher—one of the world’s most wanted hackers—wanted to make a statement on CYBER to deny he’s an agent of the Kremlin.

Phineas Fisher is the hacker’s hacker that nobody knows. In fact, nobody even knows if they are just one person, or several people. All we know is Phineas Fisher has hacked, embarrassed, and exposed some of the world’s most powerful spyware companies that have connections to the FBI, the DEA, and dozens of other law enforcement and spy agencies all around the world. 

And Phineas Fisher has completely gotten away with it

Throughout these exploits, Motherboard'sLorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai has been one of the few reporters to make contact with the hacker several times. Recently, Phineas Fisher got in touch with him again, but this time to deny a recent allegation that he’s Russian intelligence operation made in Joseph Menn’s new book on hacktivism.

On this week’s CYBER, Lorenzo sits down with host Ben Makuch to take you through the murky history of Phineas Fisher’s hacks, then the infamous hacktivist speaks.

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Jul 25, 2019
How Palantir's Spy Tool for Cops Works

A Silicon Valley company with a history of CIA funding, a suite of highly sought after intelligence software tools, and a gallivanting billionaire founder with connections to the Trump Administration is set to become one of the biggest IPOs in recent memory.

Yet many outside of the infosec world don’t even know its name or that it even exists—a sharp difference Palantir doesn’t share with other similar-sized startups based out of the Silicon Valley.

But Palantir’s surveillance software, which essentially siphons up monumental amounts of data on the public using state, police, and federal databases can map interpersonal relationships between people and provide that info to the fingertips of police and spies in a matter of seconds.

Among the list of past and current Palantir clients are the NSA, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement—which directly uses its technology to fuel its controversial raids on undocument workers

Motherboard reporter Caroline Haskins obtained a copy of one of the company’s top-secret police manuals describing how to use its software. The revelation gave privacy-concerned onlookers a rare insight into just how invasive Palantir technology can be.

On this week’s CYBER, Caroline sits down with host Ben Makuch to map out what Palantir is and how this company influences the very technological landscape of the modern world. 

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Jul 18, 2019
The Connection Between a Deadly Gunfight and Phone Location Data

In the span of six seconds and 20 gunshots and three dead bodies hit the ground of a Nissan dealership in Texas. And somebody was tracking one of their cell phones remotely.

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Jul 11, 2019
Inside Jigsaw, Google's 'Internet Justice League'

For years, Google’s internet freedom moonshot Jigsaw has gotten glowing attention for its ambitious projects. But current and former employees, along with leaked documents and internal messages, reveal a grim reality behind the scenes. Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai tells us about his months-long investigation into Jigsaw and its "toxic" workplace culture.

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Jul 02, 2019
Is Your Password Secure? Probably Not

For decades, experts have known that a simple alphanumeric password isn't enough to secure our identities online, but nothing has changed. In this episode, we’re talking to Wendy Nather, a veteran of the infosec world who knows a thing or two about identity and authentication.

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Jun 27, 2019
The Zuckerberg Deepfake Heard Around the World

Last week a video of Mark Zuckerberg emerged online. The video showed Facebook's CEO speaking to the camera in his office, but what he was saying didn’t seem right. This deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg was perhaps the biggest troll of Facebook in recent memory, but will it change anything?

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Jun 21, 2019
What Happens When a US Border Protection Contractor Gets Hacked?

On this week’s episode of CYBER, Joseph Cox and Motherboard EIC Jason Koebler discuss the breach of a Customs and Border Protection contractor that exposed pictures of drivers in Pennsylvania, and the implications for the future of data retention. This story comes on the cusp of groundbreaking attempts by the CBP to use facial recognition software along the border and collecting visitors social media information.

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Jun 13, 2019
The Politician Fighting The Spyware Industry

On this week’s CYBER host Ben Makuch sat down with Dutch politician Marietje Schaake to discuss the future of cyberweapons, how governmental regulation on spyware should mirror the conventional arms industry, and how Brexit might make Britain a haven for commercial surveillance companies.

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Jun 07, 2019
The Grugq

Ben Makuch sits down with one of InfoSec’s only true celebrities: The Grugq (who recently added the name ‘Thaddeus’ to his Twitter account, which has over 100,000 followers.)

For the uninformed, the Grugq is a South African hacker, security research, OPSEC expert and highly entertaining Twitter follow with a history of being an exploit broker that has a rolodex of government contacts (he once claimed in Forbes to be taking in over $1 million in a single year skimming a fee off of exploit sales as a middle-man to intelligence agencies).

In this episode, the hacking and spy expert cuts through the media tailspinning around disinfo campaigns to tell us what 2020 election meddling might just look like.

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May 30, 2019
Who’s Afraid of Huawei?

In this week's CYBER podcast, we spoke to VICE News reporter William Turnton, who just spent a week in China as part of a bizzarre Huawei junket.

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May 21, 2019
Why There’s No Need to Panic About a ‘Cyber 9/11’

On this week's episode of CYBER, we spoke to Robert Lee, a former NSA analyst and infrastructure hacking expert, about the state of critical infrastructure, the threats it faces, and why there's still no need to panic.

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May 14, 2019
Manhattan’s District Attorney Explains How She Prosecutes Cybercrime

Elizabeth Roper, the chief of the cybercrime and identity theft bureau in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office explains how one of the country’s most important prosecutors goes after cybercriminals.

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May 07, 2019
How a Hacker Tracked Thousands of Cars and Gained the Ability To Kill Their Engines

In this week’s CYBER podcast, we spoke about Motherboard’s scoop on a hacker who breached two GPS tracking companies.

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Apr 30, 2019
Edward Snowden on Julian Assange, the Mueller Report, and Press Freedom

In this week's CYBER podcast, we sat down with Edward Snowden to talk about his life in Russia, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and press freedom in the United States and beyond.

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Apr 22, 2019
How ‘Unicorn Riot’ Exposes The Far Right Online

This week, CYBER speaks to Freddy Martinez, one of the members of Unicorn Riot, an activist and media collective that’s been tracking and exposing nazis, racists, and other far-right people on the internet. 

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Apr 15, 2019
How the ‘New York Times’ Protects its Journalists From Hackers and Spies

This week, CYBER speaks to Runa Sandvik, the senior director of information security at The New York Times about how she helps the Times journalists stay safe online and help them protect sources. 

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Apr 08, 2019
Why The ASUS Supply Chain Hack Is a Big Deal

On this week’s episode of CYBER, we sat down with Kim Zetter, the legendary cybersecurity reporter and the author of the original news story on the ASUS hack. Zetter walked us through this specific hack, and also told us about previous supply chain attacks, and why they’re so scary.

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Apr 01, 2019
Why Hackers Are Stoked That Beto O’Rourke Was One Of Them

This week, CYBER speaks to Oxblood Ruffin, a long-time member of the legendary hacking group Cult of The Dead Cow, or cDc. Ruffin told us about the cDc, its historical importance, and why it's a big deal that a US presidential candidate was once part of the group.

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Mar 27, 2019
How Online Disinformation Affects the Real World

In the lead up to the 2016 US presidential elections, the Russian government allegedly used internet trolls, fake Facebook accounts, and hackers in a coordinated disinformation campaign. What did we learn from it? And how is the world preparing to deal with this new kind of information operations that straddle between the online and real world? We spoke to Roel Schouwenberg, the director of intelligence and research at Celsus Advisory Group, a consulting firm based in the US that helps clients deal with disinformation operations.

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Mar 20, 2019
The Prototype iPhones Hackers Use to Research Apple’s Most Sensitive Code

Very few people have heard of them, but "dev-fused" iPhones sold on the grey market are one of the most important tools for the best iOS hackers in the world. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai talks about his blockbuster investigation, and host Ben Makuch talks to someone who sells these prototype phones.

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Mar 07, 2019
The Cybersecurity Industrial Complex

Last year, investors poured $5 billion in cybersecurity startups. The whole industry will be worth $170 billion in three years, according to a recent estimate. There’s so many infosec companies it's hard to keep track of them. And yet, are we all really secure? Is the infosec industry really keeping us safe? Is it even focusing on the right problems?

Next week, tens of thousands of people will meet in San Francisco for the year’s biggest information security gathering focused on business: the RSA Conference.

Kelly Shortridge is the vice president of product strategy at Capsule8, a New York City-based security startup. Kelly has a background in economics, investment banking, and has studied the infosec market. She’s here today to help us understand why the infosec industry is so big, and what’s wrong with it.

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Mar 04, 2019
How Hackers Break into iCloud-Locked iPhones

In spring, 2017, a teenager walked up behind a woman leaving the Metro in Northeast Washington DC and put her in a chokehold: "Be quiet," he said. And "delete your iCloud." He grabbed her iPhone 6S and ran away.

The iCloud security feature has cut down on the number of iPhones that have been stolen, but enterprising criminals have found ways to remove iCloud in order to resell devices. To do this, they phish the phone’s original owners, or scam employees at Apple Stores. Thieves, coders, and hackers participate in an underground industry designed to remove a user’s iCloud account from a phone so that they can then be resold.

Motherboard Editor-in-Chief Jason Koebler and senior staff writer Joseph Cox spent the last few months diving into the notably complicated world of “iCloud Unlocks” and the ways in which it involves not only physical and cybercrime, but also the otherwise legitimate independent iPhone repair industry.

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Feb 19, 2019
How Google Tracks Hackers

Tracking hacking groups has become a booming business. Dozens of so-called “threat intelligence” companies keep tabs on them and sell subscriptions to feeds where they provide customers with up to date information on what the most advanced cyber criminals and government hackers are up to. Lots of these are small companies, but one of the best in the biz you've definitely heard of: It's Google. The internet giant has more than 1.5 billion active users on Gmail, more than 1 billion people who use Chrome, and more than 2 billion of their Android phones floating around in the world.

This week, Ben Makuch talks to Shane Huntley, the Director of Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG). TAG is essentially Google’s hacker hunting team: they’re the ones tasked with monitoring Google networks for criminal and government hacking groups.

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Feb 11, 2019
The Spyware Sting Operation

Citizen Lab, a human rights watchdog, tracks governments who do bad things online, and learned that slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi's phone was bugged. Soon after that revelation, Citizen Lab's researchers began getting weird requests to meet in person from companies that didn't exist. They surmised that they were being spied on, and so they decided to turn the tables—and an Associated Press reporter was along for the ride.

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Feb 05, 2019
The Penetration Tester

This week, we talk to Jek, a physical penetration tester whose job is to infiltrate offices, data centers, store stockrooms, and other supposedly "secure" locations and either steal information or install a tool so that other hackers can exfiltrate data. She relies on the most reliable vulnerability of all: human weakness. Jek tells host Ben Makuch how she does it, some of her most memorable operations, and why other hackers think that what she does is "witchcraft."

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Jan 28, 2019
I Gave a Bounty Hunter $300. Then He Located Our Phone

Earlier this month, Motherboard sent $300 to a bounty hunter. Within moments, he sent us a Google Maps screenshot with the real-time location data of a phone that we'd asked him to track. Motherboard editor-in-chief Jason Koebler and senior staff writer Joseph Cox go deep on the shady—but legal—market of data aggregators and brokers who sell smartphone location data to bounty hunters, bail bondsmen, landlords, used car salesmen, and anyone who can afford it.

We learn how bounty hunters go right up to the edge of what the law allows and use "neurolinguistic mind manipulation" to get people to give them information. CYBER host Ben Makuch also talks to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who has legislation pending that would ban these practices and would help protect Americans' privacy.

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Jan 24, 2019
[BONUS] Malicious Life: The Ashley Madison Hack

This week, CYBER presents an episode from Malicious Life, one of our favorite hacking podcasts. In this episode, host Ran Levi takes a deep dive into how Ashley Madison, "the dating site for people who want to have an affair," got hacked. More importantly, the episode looks into the fallout of that hack. You can subscribe to Malicious Life on whichever podcast app you're using now. CYBER will be back with another new episode next week.

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Jan 24, 2019
The PewDiePie Hacks

In November, 50,000 printers started suddenly printing a message urging recipients to subscribe to PewDiePie—YouTube’s most popular star ever, with 80 million subscribers. It came with a warning, too: That the printers were hacked because they were dangerously exposed to the internet.

A month later, the same hacker, known as HackerGiraffe, struck again, this time hacking smart TVs and Chromecast devices to autoplay a video promoting PewDiePie and urging them to fix their exposed devices.

Things only got crazier from there.

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Jan 15, 2019
The Dark Overlord and the 9/11 Insurance Files Hack

A few hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the mysterious hacking group the Dark Overlord tweeted a link to an encrypted file: “We'll be providing many answers about 9/11 conspiracies through our 18,000 secret documents leak.”

This is just the latest in a string of high profile hacks by the Dark Overlord, who have popped celebrity plastic surgeons, schools, family businesses and Netflix studios. Their motivation is simple: they want money, and they’re not afraid to extort people for it. CYBER talks to reporter Joseph Cox about the hacking crew and the motivation behind their latest hack.

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Jan 04, 2019
The Base

CYBER host Ben Makuch and reporter Mack Lamoureux recently spent months embedded on in a secretive social network called “The Base," which is used by American neo-Nazis to organize real-life meetups.

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Dec 31, 2018
How to Track Government Hackers and APTs

Fancy Bear, APT10, Lazarus Group, Charming Kitten. These are all the names given to government hacker groups.

And if you pay any attention to cybersecurity news you heard about Russian hackers, Chinese hackers, and groups that are usually called APTs—government-sponsored hackers. This week we’re talking with Eva Galperin, the director of cybersecurity with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Eva has been researching APTs for years, investigating these state hackers from all over every corner of the globe. Because countries everywhere are growing their cyber armies and there’s no signs of that slowing down.

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Dec 24, 2018
The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked

In the coming weeks, millions of people will get new phones, computers, Amazon Echos, Google Homes, Smart Coffee Makers, and other internet of things devices. All of these things come with their own privacy, surveillance, and hacking risks, but there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure. So we thought it’d be a good time to talk about the Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked, our comprehensive advice on digital security.

We’ve released a new version of it every year for the last three years, adding and changing things as hacking threats and security best practices evolve. This week, Harlo Holmes, director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, a senior staff writer at Motherboard join editor-in-chief Jason Koebler to talk about the guide.

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Dec 17, 2018
Inside the Messy World of Nintendo Switch Hacking

Pirates recently dumped Super Smash Bros. Ultimate around two weeks before it was scheduled to hit stores. Motherboard senior staff writer Joseph Cox takes us inside the messy world of Nintendo Switch hacking and piracy. The Switch piracy community—much of which operates on the gamer-focused chat app Discord—is full of ingenuity, technical breakthroughs, and evolving cat-and-mouse games between the multi-billion dollar Nintendo and the passionate hackers who love the company but nonetheless illegally steal its games. Pirates deploy malware to steal each other’s files so they can download more games themselves. Groups deliberately plant code into others' Switches so they no longer work. And some people in the scene have been doxed.

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Dec 03, 2018
America's Voting Machines Are Vulnerable to Election Hacking

When you say “election hacking” it means something different than the Kremlin's disinformation campaigns. On this episode of CYBER, we talk about what real election hacking is with Motherboard contributor Kim Zetter, who just wrote a piece for New York Times Magazine called “The Crisis of Election Security.” Kim says the real vulnerability in our system is something of our own making: the outdated voting machines we use to carry out our key civic duties.

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Nov 19, 2018
SIM Hijacking and the Phone Number Ransom

Imagine if your phone suddenly stopped working. And then you couldn’t login to Facebook, Instagram, your email, or bank account. Your phone switches back on, and you get a call. On the other end of the line is a guy telling you he’s stolen your phone number, and is about to take all your money. This is a new type of hack called SIM hijacking, and there’s almost nothing you can do to stop it. In this first episode of CYBER, we hear audio from a real-life ransom attempt, and host Ben Makuch speaks to Motherboard reporter Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai about how it all works.

This episode was produced and edited by Sophie Kazis.

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Nov 12, 2018
Introducing CYBER: A Hacking Podcast by MOTHERBOARD

Hacking. Hackers. Disinformation campaigns. Encryption. The Cyber. This stuff gets complicated really fast, but Motherboard spends its time embedded in the infosec world so you don't have to. CYBER is coming next week, and will help you understand what's going on in infosec.

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Nov 08, 2018