Eric O’Neill

Former FBI Operative. Expert in Cybersecurity




Specific topics

Cloud ComputingCybersecurityfuturistsecurity

Eric O’Neill is an attorney, security consultant and keynote speaker. In 2001, O’Neill helped the FBI capture the most notorious spy in the US: Robert Hanssen; a remarkable event that inspired the acclaimed thriller “Breach”, starring Ryan Philippe as O'Neill. Currently, Eric O’Neill has shifted his career in security towards data protection and cybersecurity as he runs The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security consultancy, and is the National Security Strategist for Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection.

As a keynote speaker, O’Neill explores the current security scenario and addresses the most pressing topics regarding data protection, cybersecurity and social media. He provides his audiences with insight and strategies to prevent espionage and system attacks; while he also critically analyzes the global threat cyber criminality poses. Further than that, he also narrates the intricate details on how he helped capture Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent that was selling American secrets to Russia. While he felt unprepared to tackle this critical task, O’Neill achieved success by setting small goals that lead to his big accomplishment: in his conferences he shares this technique aiming to help people achieve victory through confidence, determination and task planning. O’Neill’s conferences are tailored to the audience needs and are highly interactive, allowing the public to drive the main focus of the conversation.

O’Neill began his FBI career as a “ghost” -an undercover special agent specialized in surveillance tasks that monitor foreign and US national individuals suspected of engaging in terrorism or espionage both in US territory and abroad. In the 1990s, both the FBI and the CIA suspected Russian moles and launched a coordinated operation to capture them: the biggest security breach in US history was at stake. In 1994 the CIA mole was arrested, while the FBI spy remained unknown. O’Neill transitioned at that time from field operative to undercover spy in this investigation. Before long, the target was the 25-year career agent Robert Hanssen.

During this investigation, O’Neill worked undercover with Hanssen within the FBI’s Information Assurance Division –a department created to protect classified intelligence. O’Neill’s assignment had a particular nature as it relied in little backup and support, which forced him to work alone and put his confidence and abilities to test in order to effectively catch Hanssen in the act of espionage. Changing his strategy, O’Neill managed to act instead of react to Hanssen. Three months later, in 2001, O’Neill’s work successfully culminated in the arrest of Hanssen. O’Neill’s remarkable participation in the Hanssen investigation is narrated in his book “Gray Day”, and has inspired the movie “Breach”.

The Hanssen case marks a turning point in Eric O’Neill’s career as he shifted his focus towards cybersecurity, an ever-growing security field. This is why he currently runs The Georgetown Group, a Washington, D.C. based premier investigative and security consultancy, where he specializes in counterintelligence operations, economic espionage investigations, cybersecurity penetrations, internal investigations, catching the trusted insider and security risk assessment. Moreover, he is also the National Security Strategist for Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection, where he gives insight and advice on strategic cyber-security issues.

O’Neill has told his story in most of US national media, including 20/20, Nightline, Fox News Power Player of the Week with Chris Wallace, CNN, CSPAN's Washington Journal, MTV, and Access Hollywood. Moreover, he is an honors graduate of Auburn University and has earned his Juris Doctor degree from The George Washington University Law School, also with honors.

Conference topics

- Cyber Security
- How to prevent Data Hostage
- Gray Day: Leadership and Motivation
- Data as currency. How to protect it
- The Human Element in Security Failures
- Social Media: how to protect ourselves
- Global Cyber Security

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