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About Neal O'Farrell

NealOFarrell-020-frame02Neal O'Farrell is the nation's Number 1 Consumer Security Advocate and a nationally respected expert who has been fighting cybercrime and identity theft around the world for thirty years.

By the time he was 25 Neal was considered one of the world's youngest computer security experts, developing advanced encryption systems to protect sensitive communications systems for governments, the military, and the financial industry. Many of the technologies we take for granted today, to protect our computers, our information, and our banking, Neal was working on more than a quarter of a century ago. In the mid-1980s, as European banks were confronting the first generation of hackers, Neal was busy protecting them.

In 1986, after an Irish government telephone eavesdropping scandal, Neal developed PhoneCode, a variable split band frequency inversion speech scrambler, to replace the Irish government's aging secure telephone system.

In 1987, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was photographed using a Nokia Cityman mobile phone at a press conference in Finland, Neal was invited by Nokia to help develop a privacy system for that phone. In 1988 he won the very first contract to encrypt Ireland's entire national ATM network, the same year he installed the first two-factor authentication system in an Irish bank. He later helped develop a voice-verification based biometric access control system for the first telephone banking service of Britain's largest bank.

In 1989 Neal partnered with IBM to host one of Europe's first network security conferences, keynoted by Dr. Carl Meyer, co-author of the Data Encryption Standard (DES). He went on to lead a secretive project called Intrepid with a goal to develop the world's most secure secure telephone system and a European rival for the NSA's STU3 secure telephone system. The project was so successful it brought him into direct conflict with the NSA, and his adventures in secret keeping are chronicled in an upcoming book called The Man from Intrepid.

He later developed CipherFax, the world's first fully encrypting fax machine that protected government and business fax communications from eavesdropping; and EtherPhone, the first product to deliver real-time, toll-quality encrypted speech over Ethernet networks (the forerunner to VoIP). He was honored for his work as a security entrepreneur by being selected twice as the entrepreneur to represent Ireland in the Export to Japan Study Program in Tokyo, in 1990.

Neal is regarded as one of the early pioneers of the cyber security industry, and was working full time in the industry before most of today's cyber security firms were born. He has advised the U.S. Congress and the Government of Bulgaria on security issues, as well as retailers like bebe Stores and Cost Plus World Market, security leaders like ZoneAlarm, Surf Control, and SiteLock, and identity protection firms like PrivacyMatters, EZ Shield, and IdentityGuard.

As Executive Director of the Identity Theft Council, an award winning non-profit victim support network, he has personally helped thousands of victims of identity theft. The Council is a national partnership that includes the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Community Bankers of America, the Online Trust Alliance, the Identity Theft Resource Center, and the Elder Financial Protection Network. In 2011 Neal's work was recognized by the security industry when the Council was the first non-profit to win the prestigious SC Magazine Editor's Choice Award, presented at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco. Previous winners of the award include the SANS Institute and the NSA.

Through his work with the Council, Neal has helped set new standards in the way victims of identity theft are treated and supported, and in how law enforcement are trained. He has personally counseled thousands of victims of identity theft, and works with hundreds of police departments, Neighborhood Watch groups and community action organizations. He also takes on complex cases referred to him by the FBI and U.S. Secret Service.

Neal was the only security expert to be appointed Senior Advisor to the Stock Act panel, the Congressionally-mandated study into the security, privacy, and other implications of the Stock Act, signed into law in April 2012. As part of the study, Neal participated in interviews with senior officials from nearly 60 government agencies and other organizations into the personal privacy and national security risks of the public disclosure of the personal financial information of federal employees and their families.

Neal is also a member of the Tech, Media & Telecom Council of the Gerson Lehrman Group, where he advises investment managers in the Hedge Fund, Private Equity, VC and Mutual Fund spaces on the future of technology and the potential impact to the capital markets, with a specific focus on cyber security, identity monitoring, and consumer protection.

Neal also serves as an advisor to some of today's fastest-growing security companies including EZShield, a leader in identity protection and fraud prevention, and SiteLock, a leader in web site security that protects more than 1 million web sites.

Neal is always the go-to expert whenever there's a major security challenge. When a Government agency suffered a massive data breach in 2011 that exposed the personal records of more than 3 million individuals, Neal was called in to make sure it didn't happen again. And when a supermarket chain in California discovered that checkouts at 24 of its supermarkets had been compromised by hackers, Neal was called on to help assist the thousands of victims affected by the breach.

Neal also leads the Small Business Identity Task Force as part of the Center for Identity at the University of Texas in Austin, the nation's center for excellence on all things identity. He is also a member of the Federal Communications Commission's Cybersecurity Roundtable Working Group, and a member of the Consumer Steering Committee of the Identity Ecosystem, a part of the White House' National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.

A passionate security educator, Neal has authored more than 150 articles on security and has appeared in numerous publications around the world including CNN Money, BusinessWeek, SmartMoney, CNET, Information Week, the National Law Journal, Today.com, Fox Business, and the South China Morning Post.

He is the author of "Double Trouble - Protecting Your Identity in an Age of Cybercrime," used as an education tool by numerous organizations including three of the top five U.S. banks as well as Costco and the NFL Player's Association. He is also a former columnist with SearchSecurity.com, and Technical Editor for the "Hack Proofing" series of security guides from Elsevier Publishing.

Neal has previously served as Consumer Security Advocate for IdentityGuard, the leading provider of identity protection services that have protected more than 30 million consumers since 2000.

He was also the Director of Education for security firm Zone Labs, makers of the award-winning personal firewall now used by more than 60 million users worldwide. At Zone Labs he was also editor of The Zone, the monthly magazine and newsletter that provided security advice to more than 3 million readers in 120 countries.

In 2002 Neal organized the nation's very first Cyber Security Day, and he also founded Think Security First, a non-profit security awareness initiative supported by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Cisco, and McAfee. The goal of the program was to provide free security education and awareness to businesses, residents, schools, and law enforcement.

He is a founder and board member of the Center for Information Security Awareness, a non-profit partnership with FBI InfraGard to provide quality employee security awareness training and certification to every workplace in the country.

Neal was the first expert to train an entire police department in identity theft awareness, and that program has since been used by more than 200 police departments and police academies, as well as the FBI, the DMV, and US Attorney's Office.

He is a sought-after speaker on identity theft issues, and has been invited to speak at numerous events and groups including the Information Integrity World Summit, the Network Infrastructure Conference, the Financial Network Security Conference, the Computer Security Institute Annual Conference, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, the Identity Management Summit, the California Financial Crimes Investigators Association (CFCIA) Annual Conference, High Tech Crimes Investigators Association (HTCIA) International Conference, the California Crime Prevention Officers Association (CCPOA), and the International Payments Summit. He was also invited to Chair the first "Cybercrime On Wall Street" conference in 2002.

"When we asked the FBI if they could recommend a top class expert on identity theft, they unequivocally recommended Neal O'Farrell. They told us that even if we couldn't get him in person, put him on speakerphone and have him call it in. He's that good."
Mark M. Fujiwara, Vice President Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC/Fujiwara Paschal Group