Date: Wednesday October 30, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The Economics of Malware: Why EVERY Computer is a Target (Yes, Even Yours)

Summary: Everyone has seen a warning from their antivirus that something has gone wrong, or read a story about a company’s network being compromised. What most people don’t understand is why those events happen. What makes malware (viruses, targeted attacks, trojans, etc) cost effective? Where does the money come from? This talk will explain where the millions of dollars involved come from, and how that money flows.

Bio: Pat O’Connell is a security architect who’s career grew out of time working in electoral politics and systems administration. He began with training clients to understand how they would be vulnerable to social engineering as well as policy to help protect their interests. From there, he branched out into penetration testing and data analytics, including showing clients how attackers would breach their defenses, and how to look for the needles in their haystacks indicating security incidents. He writes a security blog where he gives commentary and tutorials as to how to improve everyday security at


It Really Is a Series of Tubes

Summary: We all laughed when the late Senator Ted Stevens told us that the Internet was a series of tubes. Turns out he was right: he was just off by a century. Under the streets of every major financial city in the world and on every continent but Antarctica, pneumatic tube postal systems delivered telegrams and mail, powered by massive and majestic steam engines. In the early 20th century, pneumatic tube systems came indoors, serving as the messaging and financial mechanisms of just about every major building. In this talk, I’ll look at the glorious history of the pneumatic post, especially in Paris, and we’ll see just how right the late senator was.

Presenter bio: Molly Wright Steenson is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at UW-Madison. Pneumatic tubes have made her Internet famous.


The Zombifying Wasp: a Survivors Story

Summary: Every day on planet Earth, a zombie is made. And not in the lab of some deranged scientist, but on the African continent at the hands (or more appropriately, stinger) of an Emerald Cockroach Wasp. In this harrowing talk, we’ll get a first-hand account of nature’s most precise and merciless zombification process.

Presenter bio: Ben Taylor is the Assistant Director of Education for the UW Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, but, even more so than jamming words into his job title, his real passion is for insects. Ben received his bachelor’s degree in entomology from the UW-Madison and considers cockroaches–sentient or otherwise–some of his closest friends.