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Eric  O'Neill

Eric O'Neill

Technology Futurist, National Security Strategist at VMWare Carbon Black, Bestselling Author, Former FBI Operative & Inspiration for the Film Breach

Biography

Eric O’Neill helped capture the most notorious spy in United States history: Robert Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the FBI. The remarkable true events of his life are the inspiration behind the critically acclaimed dramatic thriller Breach, starring Ryan Philippe as O’Neill, and his bestselling novel Gray Day. The film set inside the FBI- the gatekeeper of the nation’s most sensitive and potentially volatile secrets – is the story of the greatest security breach in US history. Read More >

Preceding Hanssen’s arrest, O’Neill worked with the spy within the information assurance division that protected all classified FBI intelligence. O’Neill gained Hanssen’s trust and used that relationship to slowly draw the traitor out of deep cover.

O’Neill began his career in the FBI as a graduate of the FBI’s Intelligence Program. He spent the first five years of his career as a special surveillance group field operative tasked to surveil and monitor foreign, national, and domestic terrorists and spies. He transitioned from field operative to direct undercover work focusing on Hanssen. Although his prior training had focused on “ghosting” targets from the shadows, he engaged his target in conversation in order to elicit information needed to catch Hanssen in the act of espionage. The singular nature of the assignment, one with little backup or support, required O’Neill to draw from deep reserves of courage and confidence within himself to battle Hanssen’s mind games and aggressive probing and learn to “stop reacting to Hanssen and begin acting.”

Currently, Eric O’Neill is the National Security Strategist for VMWare-Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection, where he provides insight and advice on strategic cyber-security issues and will work to ensure VMWare-Carbon Black is an active participant in the conversation about the national strategy for cybersecurity. He is also a founding partner of The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security consultancy, where he specializes in counterintelligence operations, investigations into economic espionage, cybersecurity penetrations, internal investigations, catching the trusted insider and security risk assessment consulting out of Washington, DC.

O’Neill’s story is one of patriotism, of decisive action in the face of fear, and of learning to maintain confidence in ability even if it looks like success is impossible. He has told his story in national media, in print, on radio, and on television including 20/20, Nightline, Hardball with Chris Mathews, Fox News Power Player of the Week with Chris Wallace, CNN, CSPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” World News Now, MTV, and Access Hollywood.

A talented motivational speaker who weaves real-life experiences into a presentation that is both entertaining and rewarding, Eric O’Neill provides practical insights into real work situations relevant to many industries. In addition to his experience in the Hanssen case, he also addresses the issues of confidence and patriotism, the threat to United States security posed by terrorism, foreign intelligence services, the cyber threat to our national infrastructure and the national conscience in a monitored society. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Cybersecurity in the Age of Espionage

Why Backgrounds Matter

On CNN

On Fox News

Johnny Rockets Internal Conference

At Auburn University

Speech Topics

WHAT JAMES BOND & JASON BOURNE WOULD NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT ACHIEVING YOUR COMPANY’S MISSION

You’d never see James Bond give a game-changing keynote to a leadership team. Or, see Jason Bourne coach corporate audiences on how to turn obstacles into accomplishments. Luckily, we have real-life FBI cybersecurity expert and celebrated spy catcher, Eric O’Neill. Read More >

O’Neill weaves his edge-of-your-seat espionage story—featured in the Hollywood hit, Breach and his own bestseller, Gray Day—into highly actionable, irresistibly motivational takeaways to help achieve both personal success and your organization’s goals and mission. Highlights include:

  • “Luck is for lottery winners.” How to not only identify opportunities, but create them.
  • Achieve success even when you’re not set up for it.
  • Manage setbacks and turn them into triumph.
  • Why time is the most valuable commodity.
  • “Don’t just have a Plan B, have a Plan C.”

O’Neill’s thrilling espionage story of catching the most notorious cyberspy in U.S. history imparts invaluable lessons in a unique, captivating and unforgettable way. Audiences learn how to set goals and achieve them with confidence, determination, and in O’Neill’s case, the courage to triumph like Bond or Bourne. Yes, even when the mission seemed impossible. Read Less ^

FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY & DATA

While technology may keep advancing, the challenges remain the same. How can you keep your privacy and data secure when every device is becoming more interconnected? We are immersed in new technology-that tracks us, listens to us, and stores data on our preferences. Neural Network AIs like ChatGPT are disrupting education and business and are a goldmine for cybercriminals. Quantum computing will soon make encryption irrelevant and the Dark Web is growing currently the third-largest economy on Earth, where your data and privacy are for sale to the highest bidder. In this eye-opening talk, former FBI spy hunter and cybersecurity expert Eric O’Neill explores the latest technologies and what you and your business can do to keep your data private and safe.

CYBERSECURITY: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR DATA IN THE AGE OF REMOTE WORK AND INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE

Good cyber practices are not only critical for your data safety but will soon be a requirement for organizations as the SEC recently proposed new rules relating to public companies’ cybersecurity and incident reporting practices. By 2026, experts predict cyber theft of information from government agencies, businesses, and private individuals will surpass $12 trillion. Ransomware attacks are not only the most damaging and costly cybercrime for businesses, they are also the go-to tool for spies, terrorists, and attackers. And these attacks are only becoming more common as employees work from home and international tensions rise. When your organization’s most precious asset is its data, how can you keep it secure? In this lively and informative talk, cyber-security expert, author, and spy hunter Eric O’Neill uses true stories informed by decades of work as an undercover operative in the FBI and security consultant to help your business protect its information.