A famous documentary maker, a hacker and an Obama campaigner talk trust and security

Cyber security and trust are top of mind in Australia right now. Everyone’s talking about hackers, security flaws, and cyber breaches. But no-one talks about it as interestingly as the people we recently brought in for a fascinating and thought-provoking webinar on cyber risk

First, there’s Louis Theroux. A renowned documentary filmmaker who investigates worlds that he finds intriguing and psychologically interesting. Over the years, he has applied his curious mind to everything from Scientology to psychiatry. No wonder, when we approached him to explore the nefarious underworld of the Internet, aka hacking and cyber security, he leapt at the chance.

Who better to join Louis than one of the original hackers in the vigilante group that attacked the Church of Scientology’s servers as punishment for its abuse of copyright laws and alleged brainwashing? Former Anonymous hacker Lauri Love bears the dubious title of being the only person who has faced extradition orders by three different US states in parallel.  

And what about the CTO of Barack Obama’s ground-breaking 2008 presidential campaign, dubbed ‘the Facebook Election’? Hacker and entrepreneur Harper Reed was one of the brains behind using people’s data, and people’s friends’ data, and the data of friends of friends, to really target constituents during Obama’s campaign—paving the way for the types of targeted marketing we all do today. 

This month, we were absolutely delighted to welcome these remarkable humans to join Docusign’s exceptional CISO, Jessica Ferguson—to talk all things cyber security and trust.  join us. Louis donned his journalistic hat to ask the tough questions, and the incredibly insightful observations from our panelists made for some pretty unmissable viewing (don’t worry, if you missed it, you can watch on demand now).

Put simply, we live in weird times

From conspiracy theories to ethical hacking, from trust to identity theft, the conversation ranged across some of the biggest topics in cyber today, plus topics that most people wouldn’t stop to think about. 

As Louis commented, “We are enduring a tsunami of information, misinformation and disinformation—which distorts people’s perceptions of reality. How do we move forward? It’s not always obvious who the bad people are.”

This thought keeps Harper up at night. And this is a man who became a hacker himself in the early days because he wanted to understand the internet. “We’ve created an environment where we're all reliant on the wonderful world of the internet and open source software, but it also exposes us to risk.”

And the risks are real. As Jessica pointed out, the Log4J left organisations across the globe scrambling to patch affected systems. “There was a critical vulnerability in the code, which affected everyone from major cloud edge providers to Minecraft. The world was in a panic.”

Yet, as Lauri said, these attacks all help to keep us on our toes. “Businesses can try to encourage hacking in a limited, controlled way; and then share intelligence on how to make it better. It was a mixed blessing when Log4J came out—in terms of the ecosystem, it’s good to know and can help us learn how to avoid the next one.”

Despite the risks, there’s always hope

Harper looks on the bright side, just. He called it a ‘Duality of worry’, saying, “You can’t worry too much, but you should still be relatively cautious and follow regular best practices, like strong passwords, two factor authentication (2FA), and sanitary use of the internet. There are amazing people like Jessica protecting us all, one company at a time.” 

Louis concurred, saying the good guys are mostly going to outnumber the bad. “We see evidence of cooperation and positive outcomes. I can buy things from online retailers with an extraordinary degree of confidence. I can conduct business online—shout out to Docusign here—with my documents pinging up on screen. One click and I’m all done.” 

Louis, Harper, Lauri and Jessica covered so much more ground. If you want to learn more—and find out what Louis’ most memorable and perhaps intimidating career experiences has been (hint: spoiler alert for wrestling fans)—you’ll need to watch the full webinar. Trust us. It’s worth it. 


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