“The Switch” page of the Washington Post says it’s the place “where technology and politics connect.” It’s also the Post corner where rising tech reporter Brian Fung hangs his shingle, and his recent exclusive interview with “the hackers who say they helped break into Sony’s network,” as the Post headline put it, has catapulted Fung’s star to new heights in the blogosphere. Not to mention that he’s an ace reporter with a graduate degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) in international relations and an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Vermont, where he majored in political science and edited the campus newspaper during his senior year.
Fast forward to a few stopping-off points, from the Atlantic website to the National Journal, and now the Silver Spring native and Georgetown Day High School who grew up in the Washington, D.C. area is making a name for himself at the Post.
The newspaper’s bio says he ”covers technology, focusing on electronic privacy, national security, digital politics and the internet that binds it all together” [and] ”was previously the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic [with writing clips appearing] “in Foreign Policy, Talking Points Memo, the American Prospect and Nonprofit Quarterly.”
Brian D. Fung can write, and he thinks big. He sees the big picture, and he’s not afraid to go there. If Brian X. Chen is the tech beat wizard of the New York Times, the honor at the Post goes to Brian
Fung. Both of them are on a roll.
In Fung’s recent email interview on December 29 with a man claiming to be a top administrator of the Lizard Squad, Fung delivered the goods.
As everyone reading this knows, the Lizard Squad is that hacker group ”whose name is suddenly on everyone’s lips after it took credit for ruining Christmas for PlayStation and Xbox gamers everywhere, as the Post put it.
In an exclusive interview in late December still online at the Post website, ”a self-proclaimed member of the group” said his squad also played a role in the massive attack against Sony Pictures
“Ryan Cleary,” as he called himself tongue-in-cheek when speaking with the Post, told Fung that his group provided a number of Sony employee logins to Guardians of Peace, the organization that allegedly broke into Sony’s network and prompted Sony Pictures Entertainment to withdraw the Seth Rogen/James Franco/Dan Sterling romcom “The Interview” from movie theaters nationwide.
Fung also reported that ”Cleary” also conceded that his team went a bit overboard last August, when it tweeted a bomb threat to an airline company, prompting a mid-flight diversion of a corporate jet carrying Sony executive John Smedley. Fung also was able to report that the
Lizards were based in Europe and “therefore aren’t too worried about FBI investigations.”
Fung needed to know if “Cleary,” who contacted him first by email, was on the up and up, and so arranged for an online confirmation via Twitter.
Fung reported that he was able to confirm the reality of it all when “a message [from “Cleary”] that I saw but unfortunately didn’t screen-capture before it got deleted” showed up on his Twitter page.
Note: this “Ryan Cleary” is not the same Ryan Cleary who was convicted of hacking into the CIA and other agencies as part of the hacking group LulzSec, and Fung made that clear in his Post piece. And always on alert for more news and follow-ups, Fung posted an update later on the website nothing that ”security researcher Brian Krebs [has reported that he has] identified who ‘Ryan Cleary’ might really be.”
So bookmark this name: Brian Fung. A Middlebury graduate with a bunch of well-connected alumni friends in the Washington area who also work in the media field. A rookie Post reporter with chops, who has a post-modern “Rolodex” — more like an ”Emailodex”] now full of names and emails of people from coast to coast that he can call on for quotes and sound bytes.
He’s also the kind of guy who not only mines the IQ field but also knows a thing or two about the workings of the EQ mind. On Father’s Day in June of 2012, for example, while still at the Atlantic, Fung ran a piece headlined “5 Cool Things We Know About Dads.”
And while still in high school in Washington, he took part in a 6-day intensive summer “J-Camp” journalist training session at the University of Minnesota for “high school students of color,” one of
just 40 selected nationwide from an applicant pool of over 200. Not only does Fung have legs and wings now, he had them already in high school, and the handwriting was on the wall even then.
What’s next for the man who speaks four languages, writes powerful news stories in his sleep and tweets 24/7 from his home Twitter base at @b_fung?
I am sure we can expect to see more exclusive interviews down the tech road, a lot more stories that go viral, and even a few more Twitter shenanigans like the time internet pal Haley Moller played a practical joke on Fung by writing a rather off-color drank-too-much tweet on his Twitter feed under his own name — as if the tweet was from him. That story still rebounds among their friends, even though Moller apologized later after the fake Tweet was identified online as coming
from her fingers, not his.
Will there be headline one day reading: “5 cool things about Brian D. Fung”? No, there’s going to be many, many more than five.
This Middlebury trained story-teller has legs, and yes, he also did cross-country as a track athlete in his younger days.
So legs, yes.