True Crime Journalism: Cyber

Note: Presentation times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Thursday, January 26, 2023 - 1:15 pm2:00 pm

Moderator: Melanie Ensign, Discernible
Panelists: Joseph Menn, Washington Post; Lily Hay Newman, WIRED; Alfred Ng, Politico


The role journalists play in reporting cybercrime is often more complicated than we imagine. What if you're contacted by a source involved in a crime? What obligation, if any, do journalists have to law enforcement, victims, and the general public? This panel of seasoned journalists will share their experiences from real investigations.

Joseph Menn, Washington Post

A leading security journalist for two decades, Joseph Menn is the author of the bestseller "Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World," first published in 2019. It revealed that then-presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke had belonged to the oldest surviving and most influential group of U.S. hackers and explained the origins of hacktivism and ethical security work. The New York Times Book Review called it "a hugely important piece of the puzzle for anyone who wants to understand the forces shaping the internet age." It was named one of the 10 best nonfiction works of the year by Hudson Booksellers as well as one of the five cybersecurity books everyone should read by the Wall Street Journal, and it was inducted into the Cybersecurity Canon project's Hall of Fame.

Menn now covers digital threats for the Washington Post, having joined in early 2022 after working at Reuters, the Financial Times, and Los Angeles Times. Menn also wrote 2010's "Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet," a real-life thriller that brought the modern face of cybercrime to a mainstream audience. Fatal System Error revealed collaboration between major governments and organized crime. It was placed on the official reading list of the US Strategic Command, while the New Yorker magazine compared it to the "Dragan Tattoo" novels of Stieg Larsson. Before that, he wrote the definitive inside account "All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning's Napster," named one of the best three books of the year by Investigative Reporters & Editors Inc.

Menn speaks regularly at security conferences including Def Con, Black Hat, and RSA, and tweets as @josephmenn.

Lily Hay Newman, WIRED

Lily Hay Newman is a senior writer at WIRED focused on information security, digital privacy, and hacking. She previously worked as a technology reporter at Slate magazine and was the staff writer for Future Tense, a publication and project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University. Additionally, her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Fast Company, IEEE Spectrum, and Popular Mechanics. She lives in New York City.

Alfred Ng, Politico

Alfred Ng is a privacy reporter at POLITICO and previously covered cybersecurity at CNET. He was also an enterprise reporter on privacy at The Markup. He is known for his short bios and abrupt endings.

@conference {285645,
author = {Joseph Menn and Lily Hay Newman and Alfred Ng},
title = {True Crime Journalism: Cyber},
year = {2023},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

Presentation Video