Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations cover

Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations

The Art of Analyzing Hacked and Leaked Data
by Micah Lee
November 2023, 544 pp.

Download Chapter 6: Reading Other People's Email

Look Inside!

Hacks Leaks Revelations back coverHacks Leaks Revelations pages 46-47Hacks Leaks Revelations pages 72-73Hacks Leaks Revelations pages 342-343

Unlock the internet’s treasure trove of public interest data with Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations by Micah Lee, an investigative reporter and security engineer. This hands-on guide blends real-world techniques for researching large datasets with lessons on coding, data authentication, and digital security. All of this is spiced up with gripping stories from the front lines of investigative journalism.

Dive into exposed datasets from a wide array of sources: the FBI, the DHS, police intelligence agencies, extremist groups like the Oath Keepers, and even a Russian ransomware gang. Lee’s own in-depth case studies on disinformation-peddling pandemic profiteers and neo-Nazi chatrooms serve as blueprints for your research.

Gain practical skills in searching massive troves of data for keywords like “antifa” and pinpointing documents with newsworthy revelations. Get a crash course in Python to automate the analysis of millions of files.

You will also learn how to:

  • Master encrypted messaging to safely communicate with whistleblowers.
  • Secure datasets over encrypted channels using Signal, Tor Browser, OnionShare, and SecureDrop.
  • Harvest data from the BlueLeaks collection of internal memos, financial records, and more from over 200 state, local, and federal agencies.
  • Probe leaked email archives about offshore detention centers and the Heritage Foundation.
  • Analyze metadata from videos of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, sourced from the Parler social network.

We live in an age where hacking and whistleblowing can unearth secrets that alter history. Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations is your toolkit for uncovering new stories and hidden truths. Crack open your laptop, plug in a hard drive, and get ready to change history.

Author Bio 

Micah Lee is a renowned investigative journalist and computer security engineer celebrated for securing Edward Snowden’s NSA leak. He is the director of information security at The Intercept and an advisor to the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets. A former EFF staff technologist and Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder, Lee is also a Tor Project contributor and the developer of open source security tools like OnionShare and Dangerzone.

Table of contents 

Part I: Sources and Datasets
Chapter 1: Protecting Sources and Yourself
Chapter 2: Acquiring Datasets
Part II: Tools of the Trade
Chapter 3: The Command Line Interface
Chapter 4: Exploring Datasets in the Terminal
Chapter 5: Docker, Aleph, and Making Datasets Searchable
Chapter 6: Reading Other People’s Email
Part III: Python Programming
Chapter 7: An Introduction to Python
Chapter 8: Working with Data in Python
Part IV: Structured Data
Chapter 9: BlueLeaks, Black Lives Matter, and the CSV File Format
Chapter 10: BlueLeaks Explorer
Chapter 11: Parler, the January 6 Insurrection, and the JSON File Format
Chapter 12: Epik Fail, Extremism Research, and SQL Databases
Part V: Case Studies
Chapter 13: Pandemic Profiteers and COVID-19 Disinformation
Chapter 14: Neo-Nazis and Their Chat Rooms
Appendix A: Solutions to Common WSL Problems
Appendix B: Scraping the Web

View the Copyright page
View the detailed Table of Contents
View the Index

“A fantastic and friendly introduction for journalists, activists, and anyone else."
—Eva Galperin, Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
“In this book, Micah masterfully breaks down how to handle a data leak and provides the reader with hands-on examples to hone their skills. If only I had this book when I broke the news of the Epik data breach!”
—Steven Monacelli, Special Investigative Correspondent at the Texas Observer
“Micah Lee . . . has downloaded his wisdom into this highly readable and vitally important guide.”
—Julia Angwin, investigative journalist at The New York Times
“[A] lively and readable how-to guide for arming journalists and researchers.”
—Gabriella Coleman, Harvard Professor, Founder of Hack_Curio, and Tor Project board member
“As a journalist who has been working with data breaches for close to ten years, actually getting to grips with that data is often the hardest part of any reporting project. Lee's clear and concise book will be an invaluable resource for reporters or researchers just dipping into this sort of data, or those looking for new techniques. I will certainly be using some of the tools myself. Hacked and dumped datasets are rich sources of information that are in the public interest, and Lee's book will only increase the number of important stories others are able to extract from them.”
—Joseph Cox, Senior Staff Writer at Motherboard/Vice Media
"[A] fascinating guide on how to analyze the data from several significant data breaches over the last decade. . . Lee is a unique author with extremely deep technical knowledge who conveys information in a readable manner. Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations is one of the more unique information security books of recent memory and a fascinating read."
—Ben Rothke, RSA Conference blog 
“Micah Lee’s Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations seamlessly blends real-world stories of whistleblowers and data dumps with a top to bottom guide on how to approach those very scenarios yourself. From protecting sources to accessing leaked data, no page is wasted. A must-read for any researcher or journalist regardless of experience.” 
—Mikael Thalen, tech and security reporter at The Daily Dot
“The world is awash in hacked and leaked data, and any investigator or journalist hoping to handle it safely and find the newsworthy threads needs to buy this book. Micah's step-by-step approach to the ethics, safety and tooling is both approachable for the average person with even basic data skills and will also be useful for those with an advanced background. A guide like this was waiting to be written.”
—AJ Vicens, reporter at CyberScoop
“A comprehensive yet highly digestible resource that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone remotely interested by modern journalism [practices].”
—Julien Voisin, Artificial Truth
“Of special interest for anyone concerned with the increasing issues around cyberspace and internet database security, Hacks, Leaks, and Revelations must be considered basic, fundamental reading.”
—Midwest Book Review