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Former U.S. secret service agent and convicted hacker reunite for the first time on the GISEC Global stage – Intelligent CIO Africa | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Matt O’Neill and Hieu Minh Ngo share their unique story of redemption, as the pair seek to transform global understanding of evolving cybersecurity threats

Dubai, UAE: A former United States Secret Service Agent and a Vietnamese former-hacker-turned-cybersecurity-specialist are set to reunite for the first time at GISEC Global 2024, Middle East and Africa’s largest cybersecurity event, to discuss their unique cat-and-mouse-style chase, which ultimately resulted in an arrest and conviction.

Matt O’Neill, a decorated agent, has dedicated his life to fighting cybercrime

Matt O’Neil is a retired U.S. Secret Service Agent who worked as the Managing Director of Cyber Operations, where he led the service’s global cyber investigative operations, digital forensics, mobile wireless tracking, and critical systems protection portfolio.

Arguably the biggest breakthrough in his career, the Ngo case saw O’Neil develop a plan to lure the hacker out of Vietnam and into Guam, resulting in a conviction and sentencing that led to countless other hackers being brough to justice from Hieu’s ensuing testimonies.

Matt O’Neil remains one of the most decorated agents in the history of the U.S. Secret Service, having received the U.S. Secret Service’s Special Agent of the Year Award and the Department of Homeland Security’s Gold and Silver medals, among others.

Hieu Minh Ngo’s story is one of transformation, redemption, and restoration

Hieu Minh Ngo – widely known by his online persona, Hieu PC – has been recognised as one of the most prolific identity theft hackers in U.S. history, having stolen and sold the data of over 200 million Americans before his arrest in 2013.

Hieu served seven years of his 13-year prison sentence, after which he returned to Vietnam in 2020 and shifted his focus towards improving cybersecurity practices and fighting against fraud.

His redemption story has been acknowledged by leading tech companies, such as Apple and Verizon, who have celebrated Hieu’s work in identifying and resolving security flaws in the global cybersecurity industry.

A historic session between agent and hacker

Hosted during GISEC Global 2024, from 23-25 April at the Dubai World Trade Centre, this will be the first time that agent and former hacker will see each other in person since Hieu’s sentencing in federal court in 2015.

The session will offer an unrivalled inside look at a major cyber-criminal investigation from the perspective of both the hunted and the hunter. It will also provide a platform for Hieu to share his transition from hacker to cybersecurity specialist, using his skills and knowledge of cybercrime to combat evolving threats and educate a new generation of digital professionals. 

Commenting on the opportunity, Matt O’Neil, former U.S. Secret Service Agent, said: “I’m looking forward to sharing more of my experience as a former U.S. Secret Service Agent and my involvement in investigating cybercrime. Sharing findings on what criminals are actually doing – and how they’re doing it – provides a tremendous amount of value to cybersecurity professionals tasked with protecting networks.”

O’Neil added: “I’m confident that this session with Hieu will provide incredible insight into financially motivated cybercrime, as well as the need to develop new ways of sharing information across the industry at scale, in real time, to disrupt the constant evolution of cyber threats.”

Hieu Minh Ngo, Cybersecurity Specialist and former convicted hacker, said: “My journey from being involved in cybercrime to becoming an advocate for cybersecurity signifies the potential for broader redemption across the industry. Taking to the stage with Mr. Matt O’Neill is a historic moment for me, and I’m excited to share more around my new-found passion for fostering an empowered community of cybersecurity professionals around the world.”

Ngo added: “From educating young kids, to addressing the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the cybersecurity industry is complex and demands collaboration that extends beyond country and company borders – and I believe GISEC will provide the platform needed to achieve this.”

Returning for its 13th record-breaking edition from 23-25 April 2024, GISEC Global will welcome over 20,000 visitors and 750 of the world’s foremost exhibiting companies, such as Huawei, Honeywell, du, Microsoft, Google Cloud Security, Kaspersky, Cloudflare, Qualys, Spire Solutions, and Pentera. More than 350 global cybersecurity speakers, and over 1,000 ethical hackers from 130-plus countries will come together at the Middle East and Africa’s largest and most impactful cybersecurity event.

More information is available at: www.gisec.ae

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