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Monica Lewinsky wants cybersecurity pros to aid the vulnerable

At the annual RSA Conference, Lewinsky asks cybersecurity professionals to help vulnerable people stay safe online, and she speaks out against cyberbullying.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
2 min read
Close-up photo of Monica Lewinsky in front of a blue background featuring the Diana Award logo.

Monica Lewinsky at a 2017 antibullying event put on by the Diana Award in London, England. On Wednesday, Lewinsky urged cybersecurity experts to help keep people safe from invasions of privacy.

Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

Monica Lewinsky has a message for cybersecurity experts: Help protect vulnerable people from hackers.

On Wednesday, at the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco, Lewinsky made this plea while talking about cyberbullying to a crowd of hundreds of cybersecurity professionals. Though much of what she said came from a TED talk she originally gave in 2015, her message about the ways hacking can lead to public humiliation had a unique meaning for this crowd.

After all, these are the very people whose job it is to stop hackers from stealing sensitive personal information.

"Make people more aware of cybersecurity and how to protect themselves," Lewinsky told the crowd. "Particularly the young."

Lewinsky became a public figure in 1998 when her relationship with President Bill Clinton came to light. Transcripts and recordings of her phone calls with a co-worker, in which she discussed the affair, eventually became public. The first news of the relationship broke on the Drudge Report, something Lewinsky says makes her "patient zero" of an era when internet media can cause someone to lose their reputation instantaneously.

"This scandal was brought to you by the digital revolution," she said.

This phenomenon has only progressed, Lewinsky said. The internet empowers huge groups of people to target unlucky victims with humiliation, Lewinsky said, and many instances of cyberbullying involve hacked or secretly recorded photos, videos or audio becoming public. 

That's something that requires internet users to think before they click to view the digital representation of a private moment, Lewinsky said.

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