Peiter "Mudge" Zatko

Cybersecurity Luminary; Leadership and Executive Roles at Stripe, Twitter, Google, and the U.S. Department of Defense
Speaker Peiter Zatko wearing glass
  • Cybersecurity leader with more than 30 years experience across public and private sector organizations
  • Renowned for his commitment to ethics and disclosure in cybersecurity, and for his influence and contributions in creating the modern commercial field of cybersecurity
  • Invited to testify to the US Congress three separate times on information security, government systems, public safety, and corporate responsibility
  • Shares insights and methods on measuring cybersecurity, determining the probability of security incidents, and how effective certain cybersecurity expenditures were in reducing these organizational risks

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Widely regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and problem solvers in the world of information security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko is a cybersecurity leader, open-source programmer, writer, and ethical hacker who has been among the most influential figures in shaping the modern field of cybersecurity as we know it. From pioneering work on offensive techniques and information security methods and tools, to his famous 1998 testimony to U.S. Congress on systemic flaws in the architecture of the Internet where he described how to “take down the entire Internet in 30 minutes,” he has left his mark on many parts of modern infosec technology.

Zatko’s experiences within senior management are no less interesting and impressive. He has held leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Defense and fintech companies valued at $100 billion, as well as one of the most well-known social media companies in the world. In all of his roles, he has upheld his commitment to ethics and lawful disclosure. Throughout his career, Zatko has received widespread recognition and praise for contributing to the fundamental underpinnings of information security, educating the masses on cybersecurity, and championing the safety of the cybersphere for all of us who inhabit it.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Zatko has been described by his contemporaries as “a principled technologist with a knack for making complex concepts accessible and an earnest desire to fix problems.” His talks are designed to help any organization understand the differences between real security risks and fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Being one of the very few people with a complete view of offensive and defensive operations across all levels, amateur through nation state actors, and beyond, he illustrates the current state of the cyber landscape and the threats within it, how these fundamentally differ from what most businesses and boards are told, and how to measure whether efforts were worth their expenses for both attackers and defenders.

With the threat of a global recession, information security budgets will be scrutinized and questioned now more than ever before. Being able to pierce the veil of cybersecurity’s “unknown unknowns,” myths of omnipotent adversaries, and disadvantaged defenders — and learning how to measure the business value of different cybersecurity efforts — will be critical to continued viability. The field of cybersecurity has thrown large amounts of money, smart people, and other resources at the problem but still feels like it keeps getting worse. In such cases, it is important to step back and ask what fundamental understandings the field may be missing. Zatko provides these previously unknown understandings, along with new ways to enable closure on underlying cyber problems.

In addition to decades of technical contributions, Mudge has held senior leadership and executive positions at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Motorola, Google, Stripe, and Twitter. After his executive role at Twitter, Mudge joined the publicly traded security firm Rapid7 as an executive in residence reporting to the CEO.

Through the course of his distinguished career, Zatko has been among the most prominent voices for ethics and disclosure. He was responsible for early research into the most widely known security vulnerability, known as the buffer overflow, and also pioneered and published some of the first security advisories and research demonstrating other early classes of vulnerabilities including code injection, timing and side-channel attacks, and object re-use. He is the original author of the password auditing tool L0phtCrack, has been a multiple time keynote speaker at DefCon and Blackhat, and has received recognition for his contributions to the field by the Executive Office of the White House and other agencies. In 2013 he received the highest medal that can be awarded to a civilian by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the medal for Exceptional Public Service. In 2015 he was inducted into the Order of Thor at the Army Cyber Institute.

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The Twitter Whistleblower Needs You to Trust Him

Proactive Approaches to Cybersecurity. This talk offers organizations the unique opportunity to rethink their cybersecurity strategies with guidance from an information security insider who is said to have “bent the industry to his will.” Having held leadership roles at Twitter, Google, Motorola, and DARPA, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko has directed initiatives to both defend and attack critical environments in the military, intelligence, and commercial sectors. He has been summoned by Congress on multiple occasions to speak about the challenges in the cyber landscape and what needs to be done to address them. This is in addition to developing and implementing innovative internal cyber initiatives at some of the world’s top companies. Combining his expertise and insights with real-life anecdotes from more than three decades as a leading voice in cybersecurity, Zatko makes complex concepts in digital safety accessible as he explains quantifying the threats and challenges in the cyber landscape, and offers actionable and measurable strategies for how organizations can protect their systems from compromise and prepare themselves should they encounter a digital adversary.

Responsibly Quantifying Cyber Risk in Today’s Business World. Throughout his career, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko brought issues in cyber ethics front-and-center in national conversations about information security. Today, our nation’s leaders and decision-makers look to Zatko and his fellow cyber leaders to provide guidance for how to address the top issues in cybersecurity and foster digital trust between organizations and the public. Focused on fixing problems instead of papering over the cracks, Zatko explains to groups the biggest information security myths and challenges organizations face as they devise programs to protect their information, as well as that of their customers, while also operating successful businesses. Demonstrating the operational taxes and increased complexity that accompany existing approaches to information security, Zatko advises groups on solving for end-to-end business goals through optimized and transparent security architectures. 

The Future of Data Security. As we enter this new era of emerging technologies and look to better understand the challenges they pose to organizations, their data, and their customers’ data, cybersecurity leader Peiter “Mudge” Zatko possesses unparalleled insights into the evolution of data security and the impact on business and society. In his talks, Zatko shares how security solutions of the past are being leveraged by attackers and how approaches we previously thought were sufficient can actually work against us going forward. In doing so, he puts forth steps to take to deploy effective solutions without overspending.

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