We have all seen the classic Hollywood hacking. It usually involves a man in a basement dressed in all black. He can be seen typing at an unrealistic rate instantly hacking into a person or organization’s files. The reality? Hacking is not immediate. And hackers can look like ordinary people, roaming the streets, even hacking next to you at a cafe or restaurant. The hacking scenes in film usually involve a line of code scrolling down the computer screen. Realistically, hacking takes time and there is research that must take place before a hacker can just begin stealing information.
Because cybercrime has become a frequent topic of conversation in the past 50 years, and even more so in the last decade, Hollywood is capitalizing on the popularity. Many television shows and movies are incorporating hacking into their plot lines. Sometimes the way they depict it is educational and sometimes it’s just plain silly.
We have put together a guide on the possible and impossible hacking techniques from pop culture and what they can teach us about cyber security.
As you learned above, there are a plethora of cybersecurity instances in pop culture. Some are fairly accurate, while others are a ridiculously Hollywood. Because cybercrime is all over the news, the entertainment industry is jumping on the bandwagon of scary cyber attacks. Shows like Mr. Robot and Blackhat do a decent job of teaching the public the dangers of hacking, while Jurassic Park and NCIS present a false narrative into the world of cybercrime.
Many hacking instances on screen mirror real-life news, like House of Cards touching on a vehemence towards snitching. Orsat explains in the show that he “aint no snitch,” which relates to the story of a real-life hacker who became an informant and ratted out many hackers to the United States government. Takedown, an early 2000’s flick is based on the story of the capture of the computer hacker “Kevin Mitnick.”
While pop culture may overexaggerate hacking and cybercrime, it can also educate us. Ferris Bueller taught us to keep school files private and secure to ensure accurate student records. Ex Machina taught us that we have to be mindful of what we decide to download and the permissions we allow apps to have. These and other pop culture instances are great reminders to stay safe online. Remember to download an antivirus software and make sure you keep it updated. Use a password manager and two-step authentication before entering credentials on any site or application.