Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations: Pandemic Profiteers and COVID-19 Disinformation

Posted September 26, 2023 in journalism code hacks-and-leaks

I've spent the last two years writing Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations: The Art of Analyzing Hacked and Leaked Data, a book that teaches journalists, researchers, and hacktivists how to report on leaked datasets! Datasets like these get dumped online literally every day (much of it published by DDoSecrets), but few people have the technical skills to download it and uncover its secrets. I'm hoping to change that.

In August, I gave a talk at the DEF CON 31 Misinformation Village about one of the case studies from my book called Pandemic Profiteers and COVID-19 Disinformation, where I explain in detail how I analyzed hacked data from the anti-vax group America's Frontline Doctors ("the horse paste peddlers" that were "hilariously easy to hack," according to my source). They raked in millions of dollars selling ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, all while telling their supporters that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly and convincing them that things like wearing masks during a pandemic was a violation of their rights. My reporting led to a Congressional investigation into them.

Watch my DEF CON talk here:

Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations is a technical book, but it doesn't expect any prior experience. All you need to get started is a computer running Windows, macOS, or Linux, an internet connection, some free disk space to download datasets to work with, and a willingness to learn and explore. I walk you through everything you need in the exercises.

It will be released on January 9, 2024, though if you order it directly from the publisher, No Starch Press, they'll start shipping copies in November.

The feature image for this blog post, a photo of me and Cory Doctorow signing books at the No Starch Press table at DEF CON 31, was taken by Bill Pollock.