Investigating Data Leaks

Data breaches are usually produced by hackers looking for financial gain. Data leaks, on the other hand, are usually published by whistleblowers or perhaps accidentally disclosed via negligence. Journalists today are inundated by such data leaks – to the point where specialized tools and techniques are required to parse through the piles of digital detritus to ascertain the value and import that they may represent. Micah Lee has been performing this function for The Intercept for many years, including analyzing the Snowden documents. And he has just released a book that outlines the tools, techniques and procedures he uses for this arduous process. Today we discuss the importance and impact of whistleblowers, the state of data leaks today, and how it has impacted modern journalism.

Interview Notes

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:01:29: Pre-show notes
  • 0:03:32: Interview prep
  • 0:05:57: Tell us more about the book and why you wrote it.
  • 0:08:11: What’s the difference between a data breach and a data leak?
  • 0:10:02: What are some of history’s most importank leaks?
  • 0:16:14: How do journalists typically obtain leaked data?
  • 0:22:04: You’ve just obtained a massive blob of data. How do you analyze it?
  • 0:27:05: How do you handle leaked data ethnically?
  • 0:30:14: Do you warn the owners of leaked data before you reveal it?
  • 0:32:23: I want to blow the whistle? What should I do? What shoudn’t I do?
  • 0:36:28: I’ve extracted my data. How do I securely share it with a journalist?
  • 0:38:57: What are the legal ramifications of whistleblowing?
  • 0:41:57: How hard is it to analyze digital data? What tools do you use?
  • 0:44:39: Are there dangers to analyzing leaked data?
  • 0:46:43: How do organizations try to identify data leakers?
  • 0:49:42: Will AI tools like ChatGPT help to analyze data leaks?
  • 0:52:19: What can the average person take away from all of this?
  • 0:54:15: How do you know which news sources you can trust today?
  • 0:56:08: Interview wrap-up
  • 0:57:10: Micah blocked on Twitter?
  • 0:57:55: Text parsing tools
  • 0:58:30: Show links
  • 0:58:53: Bonus podcast preview
  • 0:59:42: Annual listener survey raffle info