a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: How Hacks Happen

Kim Zetter, Michael Copeland, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted April 19, 2015


It seems like we hear about corporate (not to mention consumer) hacks in the news every week. Is this something new, or just a continuation of old patterns and we just happen to be hearing about it more now? In this segment of the a16z Podcast, longtime security investigative reporter Kim Zetter of Wired — who also wrote Countdown to Zero Day, the definitive account of Stuxnet, the first digital virus that wrought physical destruction (on a nuclear facility) — breaks down how hacks happen.

What’s old (like phishing), what’s new (like spear-phishing and ransomware)? How are players around the world — whether for government or economic espionage — becoming ever more sophisticated, coordinated, and organized? And what can companies do? Zetter shares her observations on how security models have changed — for example, from defensive to offensive — to how she susses out the truth when different players communicate about or claim hacks. (Which is one of the reasons that Zetter questions North Korea’s role in the Sony hack…)