How to Defend Yourself Online, with Former Black-Hat Hacker Hector Monsegur

How to Defend Yourself Online, with Former Black-Hat Hacker Hector Monsegur

This week on The Upgrade we talk with Hector Monsegur, Director of Assessment Services at Rhino Labs.

Hector Monsegur is a former black-hat hacker. Under the alias Sabu, Hector hacked corporations, news outlets, and Middle Eastern governments. After he was caught, Hector became an informant for the FBI. He now makes a living on the right side of the law, helping companies discover where their vulnerabilities lie and how they can avoid getting hacked. Hector also appears on the Science Channel show Outlaw Tech, which explores the complex security systems designed to stop hackers, and the high-tech arsenal being employed on both sides of the law.

Listen to The Upgrade above or find us in all the usual places where podcasts are served, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and NPR One. Please subscribe, rate, and review!

This Week’s Discussion

We covered a lot of ground this week, including:

  • What The Hacker’s Manifesto meant to Hector as a poor kid on the Lower East Side
  • Why he turned so quickly from hacktivist to FBI informant
  • Where the newest hackers are coming from
  • What separates Edward Snowden from Chelsea Manning
  • The first thing everyone should be doing to protect their personal data
  • Why everyone has something to hide
  • How to identify your “attack vectors”
  • Why the Google Docs phishing scam was good news
  • The importance of setting up your own VPN
  • The dangers of oversharing
  • Our Upgrades of the Week

    Every week we like to let you in on the upgrades we’ve made in our own lives. This week we’re talking about an appliance that’s transforming dinner; seeing the world (or your home, anyway) through rose-colored light bulbs; gaining perspective; and something called “turning your phone off.” (Weird.)

    Want to Submit a Question?

    There are two ways to send in your question:

    • Call (347) 687-8109 and record a question. We love calls! We might just play yours on the show!
    • Email your question to

    Please keep your questions as brief as possible. This means about 3-5 sentences for emails and 30-60 seconds for calls and videos. Your questions can be specific, but broader questions are generally better because they’ll apply to more people. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you.

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