Undercover Dateline Reporter Outed,
Flees from Defcon"> LAS VEGASThe Defcon hackers convention has been infiltrated. NBC Dateline sent at least one undercover reporter to pose as a normal show attendee on the first day of the show, Aug. 3. The reporter came with a hidden camera in her purse and a goal in mind: to out an undercover federal agentany fed would dofor a planned show tentatively titled "Hackers for Hire." She was being tracked from the moment her plane touched down in Las Vegas."We knew where she was sitting. Jeff got up and said, We have a new contest, called Spot the Undercover Press," a Defcon organizer said. "Then he asked the audience, What should we do? Bam! She got up and bolted from the room, and everybody started chasing her." Defcon organizers said that they intended to offer Madigan a chance to come clean: to get up on stage and accept a media passone had already been offered to her four timesbefore she bolted. A mobDefcon estimates it consisted of 150 peopleof Defcon attendees, staffers (aka "Goons") and media converged on Madigan and followed her as she avoided questions, ducked her head and ran for her car in the parking lot, a la "Catch an Identity Thief," "Catch a Predator" and other Dateline shows where targets are chased as reporters shout questions. Defcon was alerted to the infiltration the day before the show opened by a source they declined to identify. Defcon organizers decided to contact Madigan in turn. Working as "friends," various Defcon staff members working undercover contacted her and offered to set her up with the interviews she needed, offered to set her up with Moss, offered her media credentials and more. She declined, saying that she preferred to "fish" for what she needed undercover. To gain access to Defcon, media attendees are required to sign a disclosure that explicitly forbids photos or other electronic capture of attendees without their knowledge and permission. The Defcon staff member who greeted her at the reception desk was already tipped off as to Madigans true identity. The staff member, requesting that his name be withheld, told eWEEK and other media that he offered to show her the media rules and regulations. She declined, saying that registering as a "Human"i.e., a regular, nonmedia attendeewould do. Malware activity in Russia catches the eye of security vendors. Click here to read more. He then accompanied her away from the registration desk. Spotting Moss, he offered to set Madigan up to talk with him. She declined. As they passed the womens restroom, she said to the staff member that she needed to use the restroom to put on her hidden camera. "I said, I dont think theyre allowed here," he said. "She said she thought it would be OK. At that point I made a radio call [for backup]," he said. Asked how Defcon got tipped off, Priest, a senior Defcon staffer, aka "the face of Defcon," said, "There are people in her line of work who like me better than they like her producer and what she was trying to do." Next Page: Outing the undercover agent.
Instead of outing a fed, the reporter, enthusiastically identified by Defcon as NBC Universal Associate Producer Michelle Madigan, ended up bolting from a presentation by Defcon founder Jeff Moss after Defcon lured her into Moss talk.