Story Archive

Penenberg’s work has appeared in a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, including The New York Times, Wired, Fast CompanySlate, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Economist, Inc., and Playboy. He has covered everything from hackers, music and software piracy and corporate espionage to outing the Segway scooter and breaking the Stephen Glass story, which was made into a major motion picture. Penenberg has been interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN’s “Moneyline,” FoxNews, CNBC and MSNBC, and many others. Currently he is editor of PandoDaily.

Click on any of the titles below to read select articles.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: ‘Anarchist,’ ‘agitator,’ ‘arrogant’ and a journalist
Washington Post, 1/28/11

Should Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange receive protections usually afforded journalists under the law? It depends on how you define journalist.

Fast Company, 7/2010


Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has discovered, for the first time, that social networking triggers the release of the generosity-trust chemical in our brains. And that should be a wake-up call for every company.

Why a Bad Economy is the Best Time to Start a Business
TechCrunch, 4/10/2010

Many of our greatest companies were founded during recessions or times of economic turbulence.

Bookstore Baksheesh, 11/27/2009

The closer a table is to the front of the bookstore, the more expensive the real estate–and each book on each table costs publishers anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000, and even up to $50,000 depending on placement.

Facebook Is No Fad
MarketWatch, 10/13/2009

Studies show that social networking is a basic human need.

It’s The End of the Book As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Huffington Post, 10/9/2009

Inevitably books will jump off the printed page and become multimedia extravaganzas, and, unlike Kindle ebooks, they’ll offer far more than mere text.

Amazon Taps Its Inner Apple
Fast Company (cover story), 7/2009

By introducing the Kindle, Jeff Bezos is emulating Steve Jobs — and taking him on.

News Publishers’ Misdirected Online Anger
MarketWatch, 4/8/2009

Aggregators like Google News aren’t the problem, it’s newspapers’ business model.

The Black Market Code Industry
Fast Company, 7/2008

Inside the shadowy underworld where rogue employees sell holes in their companies’ software. The buyers: security firms, mobsters, and — surprise — the U.S. government.

Intel Makes Its Smallest Chip Ever
Fast Company, 10/2008

A completely reimagined computer chip from Intel drinks 10 times less power — and puts the full Internet in the palm of your hand.

All Eyes on Apple
Fast Company (cover story), 12/2007

Is this Steve Jobs’ last insanely great Christmas? How competitors are plotting to make 2008 tough for Jobs & Co.

Hacking the iPhone, 11/2007

Just how vulnerable is your iPhone if someone wants to intercept your email or record your conversations? Pretty vulnerable.

Video: Watch security expert Rik Farrow turn his iPhone into a spy device and steal emails, bug conversations, and read web-browsing histories.

At the End of the Paper Trail
Media, 10/2007

Why ink on paper may soon be an artifact.

Man vs. Machine
Fast Company, 9/2007

Serial Webmeister Jason Calacanis survived the dotcom bust and went on to sell Weblogs Inc. to AOL for $25 million. He says his new search engine — powered by people, of all things — will give Google a run for its money. We almost believe him.

What Happens When You Let Go

Media, 5/2007

No, they’re not mad scientists. They’re ordinary Joes, who for reasons best understood by themselves, began fooling around with packages of Mentos and bottles of Diet Coke, leading to a huge viral phenomenon.

Search and Co-Opt
Fast Company, 5/2007

One company may have a way out of the Web video conundrum: Make piracy pay.

Can’t Touch This
Fast Company, 2/2007

Working all but alone from his hardware-strewn office, Jeff Han, with his multi-touch screen technology, is about to change the face of computing.

Watch Han demonstrate his amazing invention and download his famous 2006 TED talk.

The Speed Squeeze
Media, 11/2006

How can marketers cut through the clutter and avoid the big, bad tune out?

Is Google Evil
Mother Jones, 10/2006

Google already knows more about you than the National Security Agency ever will. And don’t assume for a minute it can keep a secret. YouTube fans — and everybody else — beware.

Cue the Computers
Fast Company, 9/2006

How Star Circle Pictures is remaking moviemaking.

Boom, Bust & Beyond
Fast Company, 3/2006

Battered and bankrupt alike, take heart: The dotcom crash did more than cull the investor herd; it set in motion the next great wave of innovation. But now things will only move faster, and competition will only get hotter.

The Right Price for Digital Music
Slate, 12.05.05

99 cents is too much, and too little, for online music. My solution: A real-time commodities market that combines aspects of Apple’s iTunes, Nasdaq, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Priceline, and eBay.

Digital Rights Mismanagement
Slate, 11.14.05

Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Sony claim that digital rights management — “digital restrictions management” to critics — is a tool to prevent illegal copying. Here’s how they are cashing in on piracy prevention.

The Fight Over Wireless
Slate, 10.24.05

A wireless fantasyland, where wireless is as much a public utility as water and electricity, has become irresistible to hundreds of cities. But will we get Internet access from big government or big business?

Me Against My Students
Slate, 10.3.05

How I use the Internet to combat plagiarists, fabulists, and cheaters.

Confessions of a Dissident
Wired, 11/2005

A courageous Chinese blogger, writing about freedom and Democracy, shares secrets for circumventing “The Great Firewall of China.

So Many Clicks, So Few Sales
Inc., 8/2005

Pay-per-click advertising may seem like a dream come true. But click fraud can devastate your business.

Deus ex Machinima
The Economist, 09.14.04

Videogame technology may soon revolutionize filmmaking, giving would-be Spielbergs the ability to create their own animated movies at a fraction of the cost of “The Lion King” and “Shrek.”

The New Old Journalism
Wired News, 04.28.05

Readers may be abandoning newsprint, but that doesn’t mean newspapers are dead yet.

Click Fraud: Problem and Paranoia
Wired News, 03.10.05

Buyers of keyword ads increasingly fall victim to “click fraud,” as rivals rack up charges for them by repeatedly visiting sponsored search engine links. While refunds are available, getting search engines to provide them can be a major hassle.

Whither The Wall Street Journal
Wired News, 02.24.05

The Journal still carries a lot of weight in the business world, but some clumsy decisions about web content are making it insignificant in the online world.

Heartaches of Journalist Bloggers
Wired News, 01.13.05

Writers who work for mainstream publications while operating personal weblogs face an inherent conflict of interest. Usually, the blogs suffer.

Time to Kill the Embargo
Wired News, 12. 23.04

Press embargoes may have served a useful purpose at some point, but now they are mostly PR tools. So let the information flow.

What, Me Register
Wired News, 08.04.04

News sites that require registration are just annoying their readers. As a result, many users get revenge by submitting bogus information. So why not drop the charade?

Searching for The New York Times
Wired News, 07.14.04

Newspapers are one of the most definitive sources of information, and there’s none more powerful than The New York Times. But you wouldn’t know it in the online world.

“We Were Long Gone When He Pulled the Plug”
Forbes, 11.16.98

Slut Puppy and his partner in crime, Master Pimp, hacked The New York Times because they were bored and couldn’t agree on a video to watch. How two members of the cybergang “Hacking for Girliez” took over the Times web site for eight hours on September 13, 1998-and why.

The End of Privacy
Forbes (cover story), 11.29.99

Starting with just my byline a web detective was able to uncover the most innermost details of my life-all within a week.

The Pizza Plot
New York Times Sunday Magazine, 12.03.00

Schwan’s knew that Kraft was going to roll out a new kind of frozen pizza. In order to compete, it needed to find out certain things about its rival. To do that, the company would have to be very sneaky.

What ‘IT’ Is
[Inside] (cover story), 03.20.01

News of Ginger, a mysterious invention said to be even bigger than the Internet, set off unprecedented media frenzy. Eight months before inventor Dean Kamen unveiled the “Segway” scooter he was outed in [Inside] magazine.

Click here for the Ginger mockup that appeared in [Inside] (in iMac plastic tangerine, no less, a wink to Steve Jobs who consulted on the project.)

Click here for a picture of the Segway scooter, which inventor Dean Kamen unveiled eight months after the publication of “What ‘IT’ is” in [Inside] magazine.

Welcome to Surveillance Nation
Wired (cover story), 12/2001

Cell phones that pinpoint your location. Cameras that track your every move. Subway cards that remember. We routinely sacrifice privacy for convenience and security. So smile and get ready for your close-up.

Return to Sender
Wired, 2/2002

The Post Office no longer delivers, and when it does it often brings waste-junk mail-or worse: anthrax. Overhaul the System. Or Abolish It.

Cybervandal ‘Edits’ Orange County Register’s Web Site
[], 10.09.00

A hacker tweaks three stories and muddies Bill Gates’ name in the first known ‘subversion of information attack.’

Letting Go of Lego
Forbes, 08.09.99

Hackers crack the source code to an electronic toy and make it do things it was never designed to do.

Patenting Clones
Wired News, 02.27.97

America’s patent-first-and-ask-questions-later policy raises thorny legal and rights issues.

Defcon Live!, 07.16.99

Dildog, a member of the Cult of the Dead Cow, was at Defcon, the hacker convention in Las Vegas, to promote his latest software upgrade for “Back Orifice.” Surrounded by a gaggle of tattooed groupies, his release party had more in common with a heavy metal concert than a software release.

Electroshocker!, 11.29.99

An interview with horror flick director Wes Craven. Here’s what the man who created the 1984 surreal-slasher hit “A Nightmare on Elm Street” had to say about E-mail, word processing, the Internet, casting movies and “neural pathways to planet consciousness.”

Forbes Smokes Out Fake New Republic Story On Hackers, 05.11.98

The original story on Stephen Glass and “Hacked Heaven.”

Lies, Damn Lies and Fiction, 05.11.98

More on the Stephen Glass scandal.

Have a look at Glass’s phony Jukt Micronics website.

Read Hack Heaven,” by Stephen Glass.

Phantom Mobsters, 08.28.98

Showing how a New York Post reporter was taken for a ride on a techno-mobster story.

Hacking Bhabha, 11.16.98

After watching CNN coverage of India’s detonating a nuclear device 15-year-old Joey Westwood decided to wreak vengeance-and all without leaving his suburban bedroom.

The Wrong Geek, 04.03.00

Within weeks of the massive denial-of-service attacks on Yahoo, eBay and other big name e-commerce web sites, FBI agents thought they had nabbed the culprit. They were wrong.

Year 2000 Survivalists, 05.01.98

A movement of computer professionals, entrepreneurs and religious extremists quit their jobs and headed for the hills because they were convinced the “millennium bug” would bring on the end of civilization.

Song Pirates, 07.11.97

The life of “The Lair,” a young music pirate who stays one step ahead of the Recording Industry Association of America.

Where Do You Want To Pirate Today?, 08.08.97

Inside the world of “warez,” as in softwares, a virtual arena rife with videogame-like rivalries and online monikers, ftp sites and ratios, “release” groups, “couriers” and “lamers,” code crackers and stolen credit card numbers-and every piece of software ever released.

Pirate’s Chat Room, 07.11.97

With hundreds of channels organized by topic, IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, is the place to be, whether your interests lie in fly-fishing, collecting antiques or music and software piracy. All you need to do is download your favorite IRC client software, which will enable you to wade through the chat. Here’s a sample from a recent online exchange.

Why Cybersoaps Don’t Clean Up, 09.12.97

Even after our cybersoap “The Couch” was written up in The New York Times, People, New York Daily News and The Atlantic Web site, we still couldn’t figure out a way to make money on it.

When Art Meets Cyberwar, 12.14.98

Hacktavists use the Internet for virtual sit-ins-and the Pentagon retaliates.

Reed College Commencement Address

Graduation speech to the Class of 1999.