Travels from Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Eric O’Neill's speaking fee falls
within range: $20,000 to $25,000
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 cybersecurity 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.
Cyber Security in the Age of Espionage
The cyber theft of private and confidential information from government agencies, businesses, and private individuals exceeded $6 trillion in 2021. The modern spy is responsible for these 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 zero trust can help identify the numerous spies, hackers, cybercriminals, and trusted insiders that threaten the data that is the currency of our lives.
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 by 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.
How The World Will End: Cyber Security In A Shrinking World
The global phenomenon of information sharing has created extraordinary innovation in communication but has also become a gold mine for cybercriminals. 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.
“The un-Hollywood look into catching one of the most notorious spies in US history told with brutal honesty and humor.”
– Chief Operating Officer, Assura, Inc.
“Eric is truly a once in a lifetime speaker that everyone should see and hear in person! You could have heard a pin drop in a room of 1000+.”
– NCMS Seminar Committee
“Eric captivated 350 business leaders, who left with clear insight into the non-negotiable importance of strategic cybersecurity.”
– Melody Bernhardt, CCB Technology
“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.”
– George Crandell, Associate Dean, Auburn University
“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.”
– Justin McCoubry, Director of Marketing for North America, Egress
“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.”
– John Fuller, President & CEO, Johnny Rockets
“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.”
– Lien-Anh Van Wagener, Sr. Director, Events & Education, CompTIA
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Gray Day: My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy
Eric O’Neill was only twenty-six when he was tapped for the case of a lifetime: a one-on-one undercover investigation of the FBI’s top target, a man suspected of spying for the Russians for nearly two decades, giving up nuclear secrets, compromising intelligence, and betraying US assets. With zero training in face-to-face investigation, O’Neill found himself in a windowless, high-security office in the newly formed Information Assurance Section, tasked officially with helping the FBI secure its outdated computer system against hackers and spies—and unofficially with collecting evidence against his new boss, Robert Hanssen, an exacting and rage-prone veteran agent with a fondness for handguns. In the months that follow, O’Neill’s self-esteem and young marriage unravel under the pressure of life in Room 9930, and he questions the very purpose of his mission. But as Hanssen outmaneuvers an intelligence community struggling to keep up with the new reality of cybersecurity, he also teaches O’Neill the game of spycraft. The student will just have to learn to outplay his teacher if he wants to win.
A tension-packed stew of power, paranoia, and psychological manipulation, Gray Day is also a cautionary tale of how the United States allowed Russia to become dominant in cyberespionage—and how we might begin to catch up.
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