The Northern California Science Writers Association and swissnex San Francsico invite you to come share an evening with Kevin Poulsen, news editor at Wired.com and a longtime reporter on cyber crime, security, and digital privacy. Poulsen will tell the story of Max Butler, one of the highest-value cyber criminals ever brought down by the FBI and Secret Service. Butler, a hacker, established a worldwide operation from his safe house in a high-rise apartment building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Butler eventually dominated a global black market in stolen credit card numbers, supplying a far-flung credit card counterfeiting operation before federal agents finally reeled him in. Poulsen’s investigative reporting on the Butler case led to a story published in Wired Magazine and a subsequent book (Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground, Crown Books, 2011). The story serves as an important case study of modern-day cyber-crime.
6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm speaker and Q&A
7:45 pm reception with appetizer buffet
9:30 pm doors close
Poulsen speaks and writes on his topic from a rare vantage point. He spent some of his early years in the 1980s as a prominent black-hat hacker. On one occasion he commandeered the phone lines belonging to a major Los Angeles radio station in order to guarantee that he would be the 102nd caller–and win a Porsche 944 S2. After serving time for his cyber-stunts in the 1990s, Poulsen left his youthful diversions behind and reinvented himself as a leading technology journalist.
The Threat Level blog, which he co-founded, received two Webby Awards in 2011. During his time at Wired, Poulsen has written about cyberwarfare and the unfolding story of WikiLeaks. He used an innovative approach to investigate and report on sexual predators on MySpace: a computer program that Poulsen wrote managed to identify a number of registered sex offenders on the then-popular teen social media site—leading to the arrest of at least one of them. In addition to telling the story of Kingpin, Poulsen will discuss the tradecraft that he uses as a journalist to uncover these and other stories in the computer underground.
Photo: Myleen Hollero