Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

4/20/2017
04:30 PM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

6 Times Hollywood Got Security Right

Hollywood has struggled to portray cybersecurity in a realistic and engaging way. Here are films and TV shows where it succeeded.
Previous
1 of 7
Next

(Image: NiP Photography via Shutterstock)

(Image: NiP Photography via Shutterstock)

Films and TV series have famously blundered their depictions of cybersecurity. NCIS, Scorpion, and CSI: Cyber, are a few examples that made tech pros scratch their heads.

Directors' challenge: security -- and tech plotlines overall -- aren't visually interesting. What's so glamorous about someone sitting at a computer, or a seemingly endless pile of code?

"Historically, Hollywood has struggled with the fact that the nuts and bolts of computing are not very photogenic," says ESET senior security researcher Stephen Cobb. It's tough to create a "rich visual environment" while offering a realistic portrayal of security and hacking.

The classic depiction of Hollywood hacking looks like someone at a computer with amazing graphics dancing across the screen. It's a conversation between two characters that sounds like this:

"I need someone to hack into the CIA."

"Oh, why didn't you just ask? I can do that."

While some of the fundamental concepts behind security-focused productions have been correct, the tech community has generally disliked how their profession is portrayed because each film or series skews in a different direction.

"Filmmakers say they want to portray hacking as being sexy and cool, but a lot of the time, sitting at a terminal isn't very cool," says Matthew Devost, managing director at Accenture Security and special advisor for the film Blackhat.

Not all films fail to get it right. Here, Cobb and Devost share the films and TV series where security is the focus and there are real takeaways for both security pros and general audiences. These productions may have some overdramatic moments, but they are more realistic than most:

 

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 7
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
ANON1248385514336
100%
0%
ANON1248385514336,
User Rank: Strategist
4/21/2017 | 11:29:49 AM
You missed one.

This article for me was kind of a "Duh" moment. There's no major epiphanies here. What about "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". For me, the brief glimpse of a SQL injection attack elevated the proficiency of the character way more than any portrayed hacker before that movie.

Shantaram
50%
50%
Shantaram,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2017 | 2:56:32 AM
Re: 192.168.0.1
Excatly! Nice post, i really enjoyed to rea it. THanks
JulietteRizkallah
50%
50%
JulietteRizkallah,
User Rank: Ninja
4/26/2017 | 7:05:29 PM
Re: You missed one.
I agree!! The Millenium series has the best representation of the hacking techniques!  But maybe it was not included in this article as not initially created by Hollywood...
SecretSquirrel96
50%
50%
SecretSquirrel96,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2017 | 12:54:37 PM
Enemy of the State
Going to have to disagree on enemy of the State having anything realistic about it at all, let alone anything to do with Cyber Security. The only thing close to getting it right in that movie, was the fact the NSA exists.

Beyond that it was a typical Hollywood version of reality.

When you start of the movie with the murder of a politician by an NSA director, you lose all credibility in the realism category.

NSA doesn't, task or control imagery satelittes, nor are they re-tasked in real time or streaming live video, that's just completely ridiculous

 

 
Joe Stanganelli
50%
50%
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/25/2017 | 1:30:29 PM
Sneakers, Hackers
It's been quite some time since I've seen Sneakers, but I definitely remember it as being among the less sensationalized and more "accurate" depictions of hacking.

Incidentally, I seem to recall the movie Hackers having some ridiculousness in it -- but it did offer one cool trick: That you can turn any (landline) phone into a rotary phone -- if, for some reason, dialing directly isn't a feasible or desirable option -- by simply tapping the hang-up clicker X number of times for each number.
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-3154
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
CRLF injection vulnerability in Zend\Mail (Zend_Mail) in Zend Framework before 1.12.12, 2.x before 2.3.8, and 2.4.x before 2.4.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTTP headers and conduct HTTP response splitting attacks via CRLF sequences in the header of an email.
CVE-2019-17190
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
A Local Privilege Escalation issue was discovered in Avast Secure Browser 76.0.1659.101. The vulnerability is due to an insecure ACL set by the AvastBrowserUpdate.exe (which is running as NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM) when AvastSecureBrowser.exe checks for new updates. When the update check is triggered, the...
CVE-2014-8161
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive column values by triggering constraint violation and then reading the error message.
CVE-2014-9481
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The Scribunto extension for MediaWiki allows remote attackers to obtain the rollback token and possibly other sensitive information via a crafted module, related to unstripping special page HTML.
CVE-2015-0241
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-27
The to_char function in PostgreSQL before 9.0.19, 9.1.x before 9.1.15, 9.2.x before 9.2.10, 9.3.x before 9.3.6, and 9.4.x before 9.4.1 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via a (1) large number of digits when processing a numeric ...