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Columbia University's Hacked Film Festival

DEFRAG: Columbia University's Hacked Film Festival

SIPA Cyber and the Digital Storytelling Lab at Columbia University School of the Arts join together to present a unique festival that will explore digital literacy and hacker culture.

DEFRAG will emphasize that the identity of hackers is not so black and white, and that each of us everyday citizens must “hack” systems in order to gain control of our privacy and data as well as our freedom and expression in cyberspace, too. It is easy to consider the vulnerability of our individual data, privacy, rights, and safety as political and military dramas play out in and through cyberspace: election hacking, email leaks, ransomware attacks on cities, and massive disruptive attacks against shipping, hospitals, and power plants. And yet at the same time, it can be difficult to imagine the nuances and understand the policy and current discourse surrounding these risks.

Looking to stay in touch with the DEFRAG community? Follow us on Twitter @ColumbiaDEFRAG!

Recent Event: “Hacking Google” with Google TAG’s Shane Huntley

On 22 December 2022: Columbia DEFRAG took a look at Google's behind-the-curtain documentary series, 'Hacking Google', which explored the company's history with online threats and cybersecurity. In this event, we'll look at the series' first episode which focuses on Google's Threat Analysis Group, led by Shane Huntley, and understand TAG's 12-year journey in combating online threats.

Shane Huntley, Director of Threat Analysis Group (TAG), Google

Camille Francois, adjunct professor, Columbia SIPA (moderator) 

DEFRAG Virtual Events

Virtual Events


    24 FEBRUARY 2022:  7:30 PM – 9:30 PM ET

    Released in 1983, WarGames ushered in a new kind of cyber-thriller, one that left a lasting mark on cinema-goers as well as officials shaping policy concerning cyber warfare. With an expert panel of cyber officials and scholars, filmmakers and storytellers, this interactive virtual DEFRAG event will give the audience insight into cybersecurity and its relationship to Hollywood. Over the course of two hours, we’ll immerse ourselves within the world of WarGames taking a deep dive into the making of the film, its influence on hacker culture, and its impact on the current state of cybersecurity. 

    • Jen Easterly, Director of DHS Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
    • Lance Weiler, Filmmaker & Emerging Media Artist, Columbia University's School of the Arts
    • Maj. Gen. Kevin A. Huyck, Director of Operations, U.S. Northern Command; former NORAD Deputy Director of Operations
    • Brig. Gen. Eric P. DeLange, Director, Cyberspace Operations, U.S. Northern Command,
    • Matt Devost, CEO & Co-Founder, OODA
    • Amélie Koran, Director, Technology Relations, Electronic Arts
    • Moderated by Jason Healey, Senior Research Scholar, Columbia SIPA
  • 22 JUNE 2021: 7:45 - 9:00 PM ET

    Join Columbia University’s DEFRAG Film Festival for a night of film and discussion as we look over the evolution and impact of Hollywood’s portrayal of hacker culture. The event will kick off with a virtual screening of Colossus: The Forbin Project, followed by a panel discussion featuring cyber and tech experts:

    • Ron Gula, President and Co-Founder, Gula Tech Adventures
    • Hayley Tsukayama, Legislative Activist at Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • Chris Painter, President of The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise Foundation
    • Amélie Koran, Senior Technology Advocate at Splunk
    • Moderated by Andrea Peterson, Journalist; Artist; Founder, Plain Great Productions

    • Welcoming remarks by Jason Healey, Senior Research Scholar, Columbia SIPA

    About the film:

    Arguably the first hacker film, Colossus: The Forbin Project remains a timely warning about the dangers of overdependence on undependable technology, and demonstrates how hacking may save humanity from a grim fate. Since it first premiered 50 years ago, dozens of hacking films have reshaped the public’s hopes, dreams, and fears about technology, just as the films themselves were shaped by the political climate and public sentiments of their time

  • 26 OCTOBER 2020: 1:00 - 2:15 PM ET

    Based on David Sanger’s best-selling book, “The Perfect Weapon” is an HBO documentary that explores the rise of cyber conflict as a primary way in which nations now compete with and sabotage one another. This October 23 panel includes David Sanger and the director, John Maggio, in conversation with SIPA’s dean, Merit Janow, and Jason Healey. Jason is featured in the film based on his 20 years’ experience in cyber as a practitioner, policymaker, and academic. The panelists discuss cyber protection and resilience for the 2020 elections.

DEFRAG: Columbia University's Hacked Film Festival thanks The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the UBS Group, and the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies for their support.