CYBER
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CYBER

Author: VICE

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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.

121 Episodes
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Let’s be real: most people watch it and it’s about as fundamental to Internet culture as Google itself: Porn. And nowadays, that means Pornhub, the massive shadow YouTube for porn that accumulates millions of clicks daily. Recently, Pornhub made headlines when a New York Times expose showed the site hosts thousands of illegal videos, which forced the site to take down all unverified content and vastly change its content rules.The story caused waves and has begged questions surrounding what the future of porn will look like online. Motherboard reporter Sam Cole has been covering this beat for years and is on the show to explain the latest on one of the most popular sites on the Internet.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
It’s one of my favorite cyber topics in the books: the cyber arms race and the increasing weaponization of the internet and how that plays into the world of geopolitics. Of course that means spies, hackers, dealers and journalists alike. That’s why today we have New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth to talk about her new book: This is How They Tell Me The World Ends.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Years before he became the world’s most well known MacOS hacker, Patrick Wardle was a high school nerd curious about hacking. His first hack was figuring out that he could program his fancy calculator and hide a backdoor in it that could help him with his calculus tests. His teacher never caught him, and he actually learned how to solve calculus equations by programming his calculator. “So I’m sure that in retrospect my calculus teacher would be stoked...or that’s what I tell myself,” Wardle said.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
It’s safe to say that video games are now an essential part of our culture. Globally it’s already dwarfing other classic industries. Even the U.S. military, by far the most powerful war-machine in human history, uses video games to recruit the generation soldier. On the show today is VICE News Correspondent Dexter Thomas who is hosting the new VICEtv series. RESET: The Unauthorized Guide to Video Games.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
It’s a mixture of Internet trolling, Reddit threads, the fall of capitalism as we know it, and that movie Big Short. If like me you have but a cursory understanding of the stock market and you continually see mention of this GameStop fiasco making headlines the world over. That’s right: A failing video game store has been turned into a multibillion dollar company, by day-trading cartels who live on the Internet. Motherboard EIC Jason Koebler, who knows something about stocks, is on the show to explain more.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Well folks, whether you were #resistance or MAGA, he’s arrived. The 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden. What’s he going to do about Russian hackers? Big Tech? Disinformation? Facebook? The NSA, the CIA? All that and more on this week’s episode with Motherboard EIC Jason Keobler.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Parler. Gab. The President being suspended from almost every mainstream social media entity and finally prevented from engaging in his favorite addiction: Tweeting. Besides the horned Qanon shaman and the disgusting violence on Capitol Hill last week, it has been a hell of a week for social media. Motherboard EIC Jason Koebler and I break it all down for you on today’s episode.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
As President Trump exits office in a hail of conspiracy and baseless allegations about a fraudulent election, the time has come for us to discuss the much vaunted QAnon, led by a shadowy online figure known as “Q.” The verifiably absurd, online conspiracy theory that has ruined lives and families, has seduced millions and even helped propel members of congress into seats. And it just inspired a violent occupation of our nation’s capitol hill. Marc-André Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies QAnon and someone who has become a leading voice on the extremist political movement, is on the show to talk Q.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Let’s be honest, I know history types keep saying that like the year 536 was way worse than 2020, but I do not care. 2020 was unadulterated trash by almost every metric available. In the cyber world it was also a year that helped advance insidious surveillance tools, the proliferation of disinformation, and more Russian hackers. Jason Koebler, Motherboard EIC, is on the show for the last time in 2020.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
This week we have a very special guest on the show: All-star sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow, a fellow Canadian, and someone who has written about the dystopian near future with stunning accuracy. His latest novel, Attack Surface, tells the tale of a counterterrorism agent and the terrifying power of the surveillance state.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Every pro hacker started somewhere. In this interview series, hackers and security researchers tell their origin stories.  For the first episode, we spoke to former government hacker Emily Crose, who now works for a critical infrastructure security startup. Here's Emily's first hack, in her own words."  "My first hack happened in high school when I was playing around with Back Orifice 2000 or BO2K, the infamous remote access trojan made by the hacking group Cult of The Dead Cow. My first victim was, well, myself. This was an accidental self infection, that's the technical term" Crose said. "I infected my own computer with BO2K, and it took me a while to figure out what had happened, but when I did figure it out, I got a chance to learn the software. It's not a thing that people will talk about certainly, but even professional developers these days just run the wrong thing in the wrong place and, oops, oopsie, doopsie," she said.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Who ya gonna call when you are one of the greatest, multibillion dollar cybersecurity firms in the world, known for investigating breaches into governments and major corporations, when you’re hacked? Well in the case of Fireeye, known for being staffed by ex-intelligence and doing the forensics on massive hacks, they came out and responsibly disclosed that it had been breached. It’s big news in the hacking world and with me today is Motherboard reporter Joseph Cox to breakdown what happened and why it matters.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Founded in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant that went on to become the first detective in the history of Chicago, the Pinkerton Detective Agency became synonymous in American life with conspiracy theories and violent clandestine activities—and with good reason. Though Pinkerton himself was one of the Union’s first spymasters during the Civil War and foiled an assassination plot on President Lincoln in 1861, he did what every ex-intelligence community type does after wars nowadays: Uses his government skills and contacts to profit in the private sector.  In its early years the agency, something of a precursor to the infamous Blackwater mercenary outfit founded by Erik Prince that is linked to war crimes in Iraq, was at one time bigger than the U.S. Army and connected to outlandishly villainous plots that were in fact true. For example, Pinkerton agents were actually the private armies for the rich industrial titans of the Gilded Age, helping union bust and infiltrate workers groups. Even going so far as to shoot striking workers like a private-death-squad-for-hire in Colorado. Pinkerton agents were also alleged to have firebombed the home of the outlaw Jesse James’ mother (while James wasn’t there), blowing her arm off and killing his half-brother. Both weren’t involved in any of the ex-Confederate’s crimes.  Well, unlike most companies founded almost two-hundred years ago, the Pinkerton agency still exists and recently, not unlike how the capitalist behemoths of yesteryear used it, it was hired by Jeff Bezos’s Amazon to union bust in Europe.  Motherboard reporter Lauren Kaori-Gurley is on CYBER this week to talk about her scoop.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In the second and final episode in a series for CYBER on neo-Nazi terror group the Base, we dive into its origins: The online brainchild of its leader Rinaldo Nazzaro, an ex-Pentagon contractor with alleged links to the Kremlin (which he denies) who began his project for “race war” as a WordPress site that evolved into a secretive, encrypted chat group, then into paramilitary training in the fall of 2018. But shortly after, VICE News broke the first story on the group and authorities began circling. Once that viral feature published, some members of the Base fled the group, while others regrouped online and in-real-life, more committed to creating a homegrown, American insurgency against the government than ever. Over the course of the winter and spring of 2019, the Base recovered, gaining momentum and new recruits from across the U.S. and abroad. Threatening propaganda images emerge of members in the middle of Central Park in New York City, other members in Georgia call for attacks on the electric grid and a Canadian soldier (and terror suspect) is illegally on the lam in the U.S. with the help of the Base. But after a series of failed terror plots is disrupted by the FBI (and the bold actions of an undercover who infiltrates the group) the Base is torn apart in a series of stunning nationwide raids in January 2020.  The final installment, titled “Train. Fight. Organize.,” is a discussion between reporters Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoureux, who have investigated the group for over two years, and features never-before heard phone calls obtained by VICE News from a confidential source, between the Base and its cell leaders discussing new recruits and how to use the war in Ukraine as a potential terror pipeline.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
For us, the story of the Base all began in the spring of 2018 when we spotted the Twitter profile picture of a shadowy neo-Nazi who went by the alias ‘Norman Spear.’ The photo was eye catching: He looked severe, with a strong brow and a bushy beard, and tweeted about guerilla warfare and the tactics of insurgency.  At the time, Spear also had the attention of some serious operators in the domestic terror space: On Twitter he was followed by and following an assortment of well known, online, far-right militants. We saw members of Atomwaffen Division—a Nazi terror group that was already connected to murders and a chilling plot to bomb a nuclear power plant—and right-wing trolls alike, some of which were gaining the attentions of federal authorities that worried about another Oklahoma City bombing, all linked to Spear. Then Spear started tweeting about what was one of the most ambitious plots coming out of the American far-right movement to date: funneling all the disparate worlds of extremists, activists, and trolls festering all over social media after the election of President Trump in 2016, into one trained and networked, IRL coalition fighting for a “race war”. What he started as a WordPress site and an entrance application, Spear grew into ‘the Base;’ a bonafide terror group, with over 50 members, operating both in the real world at paramilitary camps, and online using encrypted apps like Wire and Riot.  Eventually, by January 2020, the Base would make chilling news: An assassination plot, plans to shoot up a political rally, and a national campaign to vandalize synagogues. In the end, the FBI deployed an undercover into the Base and undertook a nationwide crackdown on the group raiding apartments and homes in Delaware, Marylan, Georgia, Wisconsin and New Jersey, nabbing 9 members. But Spear, who was revealed to be a 47 year-old American and ex-Pentagon contractor (who worked with the special forces) named Rinaldo Nazzaro, never went to jail. Instead, he continues to allegedly live in Russia, where he is suspected of being a Kremlin asset. In a two-part series for CYBER—using secret recordings, sources coming from inside the group, and never before heard materials—we’ll dive deep into the birth and demise of what became one of the most prominent and dangerous American far-right organizations in the modern era.  This is the story of the Base.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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 re-run, Lorenzo sits down with host Ben Makuch to take you through the murky history of Phineas Fisher’s hacks, then the infamous hacktivist speaks.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
What is going on? Why is it going on? Is this actually real? Disinformation in the election was always going to be a thing, and well, it was. Today on Cyber, Ben Makuch and Jason Koebler discuss the state of play and why we're here, Iranian hackers, and mass conspiracies on twitter.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Is Antifa even a thing? Ahead of an election positioned as “us” versus “them,” the specter of “Antifa” has become an easy boogeyman to either accept or reject out of hand. VICE News takes a serious look at what it is and what it is not. VICE News Correspondent Alzo Slade reports from across the country.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
You know, if you haven’t heard, in the last few years there’s been a lot of discussion around America’s problems with systemic white supremacism and well, white nationalists. Everybody remembers that day in Charlottesville and the problems with the far-right we’ve seen since. Especially during this 2020 election season. In her new book Culture Warlords, journalist Talia Lavin goes undercover to expose the underworld of online fascists, Nazis, and Trump trolls alike.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Vince Ramos wanted Phantom Secure to be the Uber of privacy-focused, luxury-branded phones—flood the market with devices, and sort out the law later. Then the FBI investigated him.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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Comments (63)

Bee Bowman

vice: fuck capitalism advertisers: banks and cigarettes

Jan 6th
Reply

Alexandra Burness

It's a little weird to think that this entire episode was a commercial for the TV show. However, I really liked this discussion and speculation about how ai is actually functioning in the real world.

Sep 28th
Reply

Abdullah ÖZDEMİR

good

Aug 10th
Reply

Luigi Vidal

Couldn't finish this ep. Too many "Uhh's" Jesus it was so annoying.

Jul 2nd
Reply

Aetherflow

wow.. you really need to listen to Malicious Life's 2 part episode on Hauwei... spyware

Jun 30th
Reply

Pedro Abreu

Awesome one, randomly echoey at around 43:50 :)

Jun 18th
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Debra Dukes

Excellent Podcast.As always ✌

Jun 6th
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Debra Dukes

Ben & Lorenzo you two are absolutely incredible and I love what you do. I have been fortunate enough to get much help from Google in the past because I have a little tech in my background but I do have a problem with the hackers because like I said in past if they want to know something just ask. I don't have this awful thing that is going around Thank goodness.I just feel sorry for the people who do or have had it.Love your show and your guest was truly awesome.Oh and Ben it's ok to talk to yourself because I do too.As long as you don't answer yourself 😉Good luck with the bike excellent exercise but get a lock take it from someone who has had a few walk away.Enjoy the Bikes guys and so love the Show.Deb 👌😉✌

May 28th
Reply

Debra Dukes

Thanks so Much, Ben & Janus really enjoyed the show and also thanks for sharing all the information about how once again how you can get trolled online for listening to what you love. The worst part is I gladly hand mine over if it meant I didn't have to factory reset my device three times, lose all my contacts and pay for things under several different screen names that I had for Years. Sad world we live in when you have to jump through hoops to listen and follow what you like.Thanks for sharing always enjoy explains a lot, Deb.👌✌

May 28th
Reply

Debra Dukes

Thanks so Much Ben & Janus really enjoyed the show and also thanks for sharing all the information about how once again how you can get trolled online for listening to what you love.The worst part is I gladly hand mine over if it meant I didn't have to factory reset my device three times, loose all my contacts and pay for things under several different screen names that I had for Year's.Sad World we live in when you have to jump through hoops to listen and follow what you like.Thanks for sharing always enjoy explains a lot Deb.👌✌

May 28th
Reply

ID18553327

Can the female guess say ummm some more please

May 21st
Reply (1)

Brandon Binger

I tried counting how many times the word "like" was said in this episode. I lost track around 300 and still had like half the episode to like go.

May 21st
Reply

Debra Dukes

Very sad I know all about it and goes on for Year's.Thanks for sharing this.Deb

May 1st
Reply

Debra Dukes

Absolutely enjoyed Deb ✌

Apr 7th
Reply

Siri

I really enjoy the other dude swearing because of his accent.

Feb 19th
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Debra Dukes

Well Said really enjoyed Appreciate it Deb 👌👍✌

Jan 26th
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mrmr

the reason people/ businesses are limited in repairing damaged devices at a board level is often because of pressure from companies that don't want you to do that (apple). go check Louis Rossmans YouTube channel. on the slack that Apple gives him for repairing easy to fix things that apple tries to charge huge replacement fees at the genius bar.

Dec 16th
Reply (1)

Debra Dukes

Ben Awesome Podcast love all such great information about what is going on.Thanks so much for sharing Deb 👍✌

Nov 15th
Reply

mrmr

wow lots of generalizations in this episode.

Nov 12th
Reply (1)

DB 'patrick-jolicoeur' LeConte-Spink

What an excellent episode! Hearing Kim's actual voice was subversively thrilling - she sounds like I think I'd suspected: smart and wise and totally on top of every important topic. Legendary, indeed! Thanks for sharing this - beautifully done.

Oct 27th
Reply (1)
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