Opening hours: 8am to 6pm
+06 48 48 87 40
La Défense, Paris

If you’re interested in Neal’s long history in cybersecurity, one of the first in the field, then here it is.

Neal O’Farrell was born in Ireland and accidentally fell into the world of cybersecurity more than 40 years ago. Not quite as long as the 50 years he struggled with a variety of mental illnesses, and it was that blend – of hacking skills and the deep and personal understanding of mental and brain health – that brought him to the Brainisphere.

A Dressmaker, Not a Codemaker

Neal has never written a line of code in his life. Instead, he studied marketing in his home town of Dublin, Ireland so he could be the third generation to take over a hundred-year-old family fashion business whose clients included a who’s who of the world’s rich and famous – from Coco Chanel and Yves St Laurent to the Duchess of Westminster and the Queen of Siam.

His fallback plan was filmmaking. His Grand Uncle, author Michael Farrell, made Maureen O’Hara’s first movie, when she was just 14 years old. His cousin Michelle Dockery played Lady Mary Crawley on the hit TV series Downton Abbey.

A Humphrey Bogart fan from when he was a young teenager, when he was seventeen Neal ran away from home, hitchhiked his way through Europe and Morocco, and ended up in Casablanca.

Neal got hooked on security in 1980 when a college friend showed him how a simple floppy disk could be used to steal passwords. In 1989 he started the Intrepid project, a government supported program to develop a European rival for the NSA’s Secure Telephone System (STU3), considered the world’s most secure, secure telephone system. The result of the project was the launch of Milcode, widely considered the most secure secure telephone of its time. That project brought Neal into direct conflict with the NSA and that story is chronicled in his upcoming book The Man from Intrepid.

Over his 40-year career Neal has worked with governments, the intelligence community, the financial community, Fortune 500 companies, thousands of small businesses and millions of end users and consumers.

Neal started his career in security protecting European banks and governments from the first generation of hackers, including winning the first ever contract to encrypt Ireland’s entire national ATM network in 1988. He was also a member of the first Federal Communications Commission’s Cybersecurity Roundtable, where he helped develop one of the first online security planning tools for small firms.

He was the only security expert invited to advise the Congressionally-mandated Stock Act panel in 2013, empaneled to study the security and privacy implications of greater financial transparency by members of Congress and senior federal employees.

As part of that study, over a period of six months Neal participated in in-depth interviews on national security and privacy issues with nearly sixty organizations including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, the Office of National Counterintelligence, Office of the White House General Counsel, SEC, FTC, FBI and nearly twenty other executive branch agencies.

He was one of the first to lead the fight against identity theft and launched the Identity Theft Council, an award-winning non-profit that has assisted thousands of victims of identity theft. Through his work with the Council, Neal has helped set new standards in the way victims of identity theft are treated and supported, and in how law enforcement is trained.

In 2011 the Council was honored with the 2011 Editors Choice Award from SC Magazine, one of the cyber security industry’s most prestigious awards. Previous winners include the NSA. And in 2015 he was honored as the first ever recipient of the Eigen Award, presented by the International Association of Certified Fraud Examiners at the headquarters of Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.

His book on identity theft has been used by three of the top five U.S. banks to educate their customers on identity theft prevention. Neal is also the Executive Producer of the documentary series In the Company of Thieves that goes inside the world of professional identity thieves, and has appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Investigation Discovery series.

He has been quoted in numerous publications around the world including the New York Times, Forbes, Inc., the Wall St. Journal, the Huffington Post, CNN Money, BusinessWeek, USA Today, SmartMoney, CNET, Information Week, the National Law Journal, Today.com, NBC, CBS, CNBC, Fox Business, and the South China Morning Post.