It's called "social engineering" — the art of getting into a system by manipulating humans rather than machines. Hackers, of course, are famous masters of the art. But no one told Dateline NBC associate producer Michelle Madigan that. Engaging in some botched social engineering of her own, Madigan tried to sneak into Defcon 15, the annual gathering now underway in Las Vegas where hackers, Feds, and security experts gather, goodnaturedly, to swap tricks of the trade. Madigan, clearly, did absolutely no research before venturing into the lion's den. She had no idea who she was up against. No idea.
After Defcon organizers got wind of her ruse, they offered her a chance to register for a press pass and cover the conference openly. She refused — four times! — but, amazingly, still didn't understand that the jig was up. She was then lured into a conference hall and outed, on tape. Pursued by a pack of hackers and reporters with cameras of their own, she's captured in this YouTube clip fleeing the scene as she whimpers into a cell phone. "They're making fun of me and they're taking pictures!" was one pursuer's taunt. Cruel? A bit. But was Madigan planning to do anything different to the hackers she hoped to surreptitiously film?