How Realistic Are Hollywood Hacking Scenes?

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We all remember that moment in virtually every crime thriller where a hacker types furiously on their keyboard, then dramatically looks up at the protagonist and says something like “I’m in,” or “Bingo,” or “Yep, I’ve done it. I’ve hacked them.” People unfamiliar with cybercrime might dismiss these scenes as entertaining and maybe a little over-the-top, but what about computer-security experts? We put eight scenes from movies and TV shows to the test.

In Vulture’s video series, Expert Witness, we ask scientists, historians, and other professionals to give Hollywood movies a good old-fashioned fact-check.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. In Wargames, they do show how he gets the password — he intentionally gets himself sent to the principal's office where it is written on a piece of paper.

  2. Honestly as long as they use a text UI I'm fine. You can't expect much from hollywood when it comes to hacking..

  3. im disappointed that they didnt show the clip of that one girl whos going to "make a GUI interface using visual basic to track the killers IP"

  4. lol New York Magazine why not have your own internal IT security answer questions. Social network scene – Apache = Web server, Allow Indexes = able to list sub folders, wget = tool for pulling data typically HTTP. So what he was trying to say is that I was able to get all the pictures off the Sororities public web site because their Apache web server has poor security. Again this is not really hacking since all the images on the website are public facing it's just an easy way to get a lot of data.

  5. Expectations: rotating 3d cubes showing hacking in realtime. Reality: a terminal and anime on the wallpaper

  6. Amateurs. I dunno what kind of old ass computer these phonies have, but on mine, all I need to do is hold the "H" button.

  7. Out of al the stuff in Hackers you choose to go for, you go for the Cookie Monster Virus?
    And then don't even get the complaint/fact check right….. SMFH

    Yeah, no shit that isn't what cookies are.
    That's also not what they are in the movie either.

    It was some sort of virus causing a memory leak or the like.

  8. I was able to use a Mac in high school to control the sprinkler system and then I made hydra worm using 6 monitors.

  9. How loosely are people using the term "Hollywood"? Loads of stuff is filmed in other states, or in Canada.

  10. Cuts from movies was to short
    In mr robot he colecting these words for program that's mix these words and make passwords they think that he trying to get answers for help questions but he needed it because he cant find anything about him and make possible passwords

  11. How to show hacking:
    1. Use a guy with a hoodie
    2. Put him in a dark room with a laptop
    3. Show him typing fast
    4. Show green letters of code on a black screen on the laptop.
    5. Never use mouse.
    6. Use in advertising.

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