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Kevin Mandia to Talk About Fighting Hackers at Code/Enterprise

The man you call when your company has been hacked to high heavens joins us onstage on April 21.


If there were a 911 line for corporate victims of hackers, the one answering it might be Kevin Mandia.

When computers at Sony Pictures Entertainment were brought down in what was arguably the most high-profile hacking attack in a decade, Sony called in Mandia and his team of investigators from FireEye, the Milpitas, Calif.-based computer security firm.

The events at Sony and the ways that other companies can avoid its fate will be among the topics we plan to discuss with Mandia onstage on April 21 at our inaugural Code/Enterprise Series event in San Francisco.

Within days of the collapse of Sony’s networks, Mandia’s team attributed the attack to North Korea or its sympathizers in a controversial announcement that was backed by the U.S. government but criticized by many.

Re/code first reported that Sony was investigating a North Korean connection well before the official attribution.

Investigators believed that the attacks stemmed from the hermit kingdom’s objections over the production of Sony feature film “The Interview,” a comedy that depicted an assassination attempt on North Korea leader Kim Jong-un by actors James Franco and Seth Rogen.

Mandia, a former U.S. Air Force officer who served in its Office of Special Investigations as a computer security expert, launched his own private security firm, Mandiant, in 2004. It specializes in what’s known in the business as “incident response,” which essentially means showing up when a company has been hacked and helping it sort out what happened and clean up the mess. It was a good business, and last year he sold it to FireEye for $1 billion and stayed on as the combined company’s COO.

Mandia is no stranger to courting geopolitical controversy in the new world of international cyber crime. Before he sold Mandiant to FireEye, the firm got a lot of global attention — not all of it positive — by accusing a unit of China’s People’s Liberation Army of hacking incidents carried out against large corporations in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other Western countries. It was at the time a stunning and audacious move to call out China for its hacking activity (read the report here), and it led the U.S. Department of Justice to secure grand jury indictments against five active-duty Chinese military officers.

And while it’s generally rare for computer security companies to disclose the identities of their customers, Mandiant’s clients have a funny habit of outing themselves when they find they are in the headlines as the victim of hacking attack. In addition to Sony, its clients have included Anthem Health and the New York Times.

Mandia is one of four speakers we’ve lined up for our first Code/Enterprise event. The others are Aaron Levie, the CEO of the cloud storage and collaboration company Box; Josh James, the founder and CEO of business intelligence software company Domo; and Diane Bryant, a senior VP at Intel and head of its $15 billion data center business unit.

We’re meeting up on the evening of April 21 at the Dogpatch Wineworks in San Francisco, and we hope to see you there. Tickets are sold out, but if you’d like to attend, you can still get on the waiting list. And if you can’t make it, we’re hosting another event in New York on Sept. 29. More details about that coming soon.

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