CYBER

CYBER Podcast

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.

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...

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...

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 I...


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 I...

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 ...

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 ...


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 civili...

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? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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...


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...

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...

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 ...


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 ...

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. For information regard...

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. For information regard...


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 ...

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. Jus...

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 ...


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 sa...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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 co...


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 thi...

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 com...

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 siph...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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? For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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-ma...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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.  For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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 dis...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...


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....

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 particip...

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 ...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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." For information regarding your data priv...

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 edg...


[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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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 crazi...

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 re...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...

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. Be...

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, a...


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 ...

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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit a...

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 Motherbo...


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. For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy...