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Checklist 119: Hacky Holidays! – SecureMac

Checklist 119: Hacky Holidays! - SecureMac

Posted on December 20, 2018

The vacations are right here — and so is your complete Checklist crew! On this week’s particular vacation version of the present, we’re veering into one thing new and enjoyable. Moderately than bringing you miserable tales about knowledge breaches or the headlines about no matter Fb’s newest follies could also be, we’re sinking into the couch with mugs of scorching chocolate (and mini marshmallows, in fact) for a vacation film marathon. We aren’t flipping on the Hallmark channel, although, as a result of on our record for this week, we’re going to tick off these tales:

  • An 11-year-previous wreaks havoc (Hackers)
  • A recreation that isn’t value enjoying (Wargames)
  • Placing a blind man behind the wheel (Sneakers)

Are a few of these sounding a bit of acquainted? Perhaps you’ve seen them earlier than — but when not, we’re about to take you on an fascinating journey. Right here’s the way it works: Nicholas Ptacek and Nicholas Raba, SecureMac safety gurus, together with August Trometer, Checklist host, all chosen their favourite movies that contain computer systems, particularly hacking. We’ll take a look at what they’re all about, how they depict pc safety, what’s proper, what’s flawed, and what you may have the ability to study from them, too. Let’s get issues began with a film that’s really a “so bad it’s good” basic.

Nicholas Ptacek’s Decide: Hackers

1995’s Hackers is probably one of the crucial well-known films on its eponymous topic. IMDB summarizes it like this:

“A young boy is arrested by the US Secret Service for writing a computer virus and is banned from using a computer until his 18th birthday. Years later, he and his new-found friends discover a plot to unleash a dangerous computer virus, but they must use their computer skills to find the evidence while being pursued by the Secret Service and the evil computer genius behind the virus.”

Directed by Iain Softley, the movie stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Lee Miller, whereas Matthew Lillard, Fisher Stevens, Lorraine Bracco, Wendell Pierce, and Marc Anthony spherical out the forged. RottenTomatoes data a “ROTTEN” score of 33% from the critics, whereas viewers have a kinder view of the film with an viewers rating of 68. So what’s it about this film that’s made it such an everlasting basic for our personal Nicholas Ptacek?

Why do you’re keen on this film? It’s truly certainly one of my favourite films of all time — Okay, perhaps Star Wars is greater, however Hackers is method up there. I really like this movie as a result of it’s virtually what I grew up on; I used to be simply moving into pc stuff round that point, and it was an enormous affect that introduced me into the entire “computer security” factor in the long run. It’s onerous to explain what Hackers is — it’s dangerous, it’s tacky, and also you like to hate it—or perhaps you hate to like it! Both approach, it’s a basic and one thing many within the safety world take pleasure in. It’s only a enjoyable, goofy escape. 

What does the movie get proper general? Properly, not a lot concerning the hacking stuff, because it seems. Nevertheless, the telephone phreaking stuff within the film is just about right. (Word: Take a look at Checklist 40 Apple’s Hacker Historical past for extra on telephone phreaking). I consider they really had a advisor on the film, Eric Corley, who publishes the well-known 2600 Hacker Quarterly journal. So, issues just like the opening scene, the place a personality is connecting to a telephone field outdoors somebody’s home to steal another person’s service, that’s fairly correct. Discovering out that these issues have been actual and might be carried out was an enormous a part of what cemented my love for the film. 

What’s probably the most ridiculous factor within the film? That’s a troublesome one for Hackers. I’d need to say it’s a tie. First up, the graphical consumer interfaces within the movie. Positive, they appear cool with all their 3D fly-bys and all — however none of it was actual then, and none of it’s actual now. It’s pure fantasy. Within the latter a part of the film, the characters are sending out viruses — and there are literal representations of the viruses chewing up the information. Clearly, that’s not the way it works in any respect, nevertheless it was partaking!

From a safety aspect, is there something viewers can study from the film Hackers? Relating to sensible information? Not a lot, although there’s one scene the place characters go dumpster diving for paperwork with passwords and logins on them — so that you may need to think about shredding these delicate information earlier than they go within the trash. For understanding safety and pc tradition, although, it may be a reasonably helpful movie. We make enjoyable of it, however we love Hackers, so there are references to it in a variety of locations on-line, in software program, and elsewhere. That’s the place numerous the enjoyable in viewing Hackers immediately comes from: with the ability to spot all the opposite individuals who like it too. 

August Trometer’s Decide: WarGames 

Subsequent, we’re turning again the clock a bit and heading again to 1983, again earlier than computer systems as we all know them as we speak have been widespread and lengthy earlier than the fashionable Web was absolutely realized, to the film WarGames. IMDB once more:

“A young computer whiz kid hacks into a government supercomputer and starts a game called “global thermonuclear war”…however the recreation is actual. It’s then a race towards time to persuade the pc that ‘the only way to win is not to play.’“

Directed by John Badham, a younger Matthew Broderick will get prime billing, alongside Alley Sheedy, Dabney Coleman, John Wooden, and Barry Corbin. Different notables embrace John Spencer (The West Wing), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Canine), and Eddie Deezen (Grease). Critics liked this one again when it got here out, with a RottenTomatoes FRESH rating score of 93% and an viewers rating of 76. So why did August decide this movie?

Why do you’re keen on this film? The rationale I like this film a lot, along with simply being an excellent, accessible thriller, is as a result of it launched to a worldwide viewers one thing that had been happening within the background and underground regarding hacking. Nobody actually knew about it, and for lots of parents, WarGames was the film that introduced this stuff to the fore. 

What does this movie get proper general? A lot! Every little thing from the web hacking, the bodily hacking, to the social engineering within the movie is all spot on. It’s truly spectacular the way it covers all these bases in a method that’s not simply plausible however partaking. In an early scene, Broderick’s character has arrange a program that makes use of his modem to dial telephone numbers in sequence. When the system finds one which hyperlinks to a different pc, it makes a notice so he can test it out later.

What’s probably the most ridiculous factor? The concept our nationwide protection techniques may need a easy login with solely a username and no password; even the varsity within the film has a password! That and all of the adults within the film aren’t too brilliant in any respect — although we will chalk that as much as being a part of the self-esteem of the film. 

Is there something we will study from WarGames? The social engineering facet of this movie have to be one in every of its most fascinating attributes. From bamboozling the varsity secretary into giving him system entry to researching how you can discover a login for a system, it’s an actual depiction of what good social engineering can permit somebody to do. The human factor is nearly all the time the weakest level in any safety system, and that’s one thing WarGames highlights a number of occasions — so it’s an excellent takeaway for us to think about, too. 

Nicholas Raba’s Decide: Sneakers

Lastly, we’ll bounce again into the 90s to think about 1992’s Sneakers, a film that’s perhaps rather less properly-remembered than WarGames and Hackers however no much less intriguing. We go to IMDB as soon as once more:

“Martin Bishop is the top of a gaggle of specialists who concentrate on testing safety methods. When authorities brokers blackmail him into stealing a prime secret black field, the workforce discover themselves embroiled in a recreation of hazard and intrigue. After they recuperate the field, they uncover that it could decode all present encryption methods all over the world and that the brokers who employed them didn’t work for the federal government in any case.“

Sneakers was directed by Phil Alden Robinson with a star-studded forged that included Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Dan Aykroyd, River Phoenix, and Ben Kingsley. Different notables embrace Timothy Busfield (The West Wing) and Stephen Tobolwsky (Groundhog Day). Scoring 78% on RottenTomatoes, customers prefer it a bit of extra, score it an 80 – and Sneakers is Nicholas Raba’s decide for our hacky holidays. 

Why? I keep in mind being a child and watching this film with my dad on the time and being amazed on the concept of methods that would will let you simply entry something. Within the movie’s magic-like “black box,” that’s precisely what you bought. That piqued my curiosity and sparked my creativeness, however I additionally love this film due to the best way it represents the rising consciousness that computer systems weren’t solely the longer term, however that pc safety would outline our world much more. 

What’d it get flawed? Nicely, the black field itself is undoubtedly a fantasy; perhaps one thing that miniaturized could possibly be made right now, however in 1992? Undoubtedly not. Apart from that, although, there wasn’t an entire lot out of the realm of risk; the black field’s function was to have the ability to break and defeat any cryptographic formulation on the market. Whereas there’s fortunately nothing in the present day that would do this with in the present day’s encryption, we might completely make one thing like that to defeat previous 90s encryption right now. 

What’s one of many coolest moments? It’s social engineering once more. This film’s acquired plenty of it, from shoulder browsing with cameras to having a date with somebody to attempt to swipe a particular keycard they’ve. It’s not simply hacking — it’s a bit like being a spy, and that makes it appear approach cooler.

What do you consider these films?  Assume you may need one thing new so as to add to your watchlist this vacation season? Even when you can’t all the time take away clear life classes from shifting that contain hackers, that doesn’t imply they aren’t nonetheless nice enjoyable. So why not chill, take pleasure in the remainder of the vacation season, and absorb a film?

That’s the top of our dialogue for this week, and with the top of 2018 on the horizon, it’s virtually time to show our calendars and begin once more from the highest. Within the meantime, you can additionally spend your vacation downtime getting higher acquainted with all of the content material you will discover proper right here in The Checklist Archives. Discover out concerning the newest in safety information, study methods for preserving you or your loved ones protected on-line, and impress your folks with how a lot you realize about what’s actually happening on the earth of safety. 

What’s your favourite hacker film? We’d like to know — identical to we’d love to listen to your ideas, concepts, and story ideas on a regular basis, too.


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