Is Hollywood’s Portrayal of Cyber Security Accurate

Hollywood has its own perspective on cyber security and is notorious for dramatising cyber security scenes. In this blog, we’ll be discussing what is the true reality of IT and discuss the stereotypes within cyber security movies and TV Shows.

Is Hollywood’s Portrayal of Cyber Security Accurate

With shows like Mr. Robot and Black Mirror having it’s fair share of popularity over recent years, the topic of cyber security is more discussed than ever. However, Hollywood has its own perspective on cyber security and is notorious for dramatising cyber security scenes. These scenes often includes frantic camera movement, suspenseful music, and hundreds of people panicking about a firewall being hacked.

Despite how interesting these scenes may seem, they’re extremely out of touch from reality, and are hardly represent what it’s actually like. Movies are designed to keep the viewer engaged, and even as IT professionals, we can't take our eyes off the screen when these scenes appear on our television (even though it can lead to an eye roll or two). In this blog, we’ll be discussing what is the true reality of IT and discuss the stereotypes within these movies and TV Shows.

The stereotypes:

Movies are known for their tropes, which are sometimes exaggerated to fit a specific stereotype or narrative in order to appeal to a certain demographic. However, as we all know, many stereotypes aren’t exactly true, and mainly used for a specific purpose. The main types of stereotypes are:

  • Multi-system hacking – The most common stereotype of hacking in movies is multi-system hacking into an entire company's or government institution's systems. This is never the case, and it frequently involves employees accidentally clicking on an email they shouldn't have or leaking private data to someone they believe is their manager. They don't usually show hacking from a person simply clicking a phishing email because that wouldn't make for good television, right? In fact, human error is responsible for 95% of cyber security breaches, and phishing emails are one of the most common cyberattacks affecting businesses.
  • Speed of recovery – Movies make it appear that a cyberattack can be resolved in less than an hour with a few lines of code, and we sometimes wish that was true. However, these attacks can often take days or even weeks to identify and recover from, and some businesses never recover due to a lack of a disaster recovery plan in place.
  • Only big organisations can be attacked – When you watch these movies, you may believe that your small to medium-sized business is safe. However, due to the lack of security measures in place at smaller businesses, cybercriminals have increasingly targeted them in recent years. This makes it easier to obtain your sensitive data without your ability to retrieve it.
  • The only way to protect yourself from cyber criminals is through coding – We've all seen the frantic typing and slamming of keys to prevent a hacker from entering computer systems and causing serious harm. The way it's portrayed in movies is very reactive, with the organisation being hacked only beginning to act once the cyber criminal has gained access to the systems. In the real world, this is too late because, as previously stated, determining the root cause of a problem can take weeks. Awareness is the most common type of proactive prevention. Being aware of the various types of cyber attacks and looking for warning signs is a great way to keep yourself and your business protected.

Mr Robot:

Mr Robot Cyber Security

Mr Robot is a popular American television drama that follows Elliot, a young computer programmer who is recruited to take down an evil organisation called Ecorp. The show covers all aspects of cyber security and can be used as a lesson in how businesses can stay safe. It provides a more realistic perspective on how cybercriminals operate by highlighting the techniques they use to target innocent people via phishing and social engineering.

Our thoughts: The show is an excellent representation of the minds of cybercriminals, and uses clever ways to make it relatable from the standpoint of an IT professional. For example, when Elliot struggled to crack a code, we could definitely relate to it a lot more than we would have liked. Even the time taken to carry out an attack as it shows weeks if not months of planning. It is an excellent way to learn about cybersecurity from both an individual’s and a businesss point of view.

Black Mirror:

Black Mirror Cyber Security

Black Mirror is a television show that takes an almost dystopian and dark approach to cyber security. Each episode has its own unique story, each with the same underlying message of the 'dark side of technology'. It highlights the 'side effects' of social media in a familiar way and pushes them to the extreme, frequently leading to a shocking ending. The show, however, is a far cry from the realities of cyber security. The show's futuristic nature pushes the boundaries of what cyber security and technology are capable of at the current moment, almost telling the story of how technology will evolve in the future.

Our thoughts: The show is extremely unique in a compelling way that draws the audience in. The way each episode is written, as well as the concepts, are meticulously thought out. However, if you want to learn how to improve your company's internal security, this is not the show for you. However, it is a worthwhile watch for those looking for a show that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

Ocean’s 8:

Oceans 8 Cyber Security

Ocean's 8 is a film in the 'Ocean' series about a group of women who set out to steal a diamond worth $150 million from the Toussaint necklace on the night of the Met Gala. They accomplish this through the use of cybersecurity techniques such as social engineering and phishing. The show is an excellent depiction of what human error can lead to and the negative consequences it can have. However some scenes are blown extremely out of proportion and makes hacking feel like a piece of cake. This was particularly true when the group's hacker, 9-ball, was assigned the task of creating a blind spot at the Met Gala. This scene fits the stereotype of frantic tapping that we usually see in these types of films. It also seems highly unlikely that the Met Gala wouldn't have precautions in place to prevent this from happening, given it’s one of the most attended shows by celebrities in today’s generation.

Our thoughts: It was extremely entertaining, but it deviates significantly from the realities of cyber security. It does, however, demonstrate what cybercriminals are capable of, but given the amount of time and resources they had to work with, we doubt they could do the same thing in the real world.

So, is Hollywood's portrayal of cyber security accurate?

As technology advances and more people become interested in learning about cyber security, more shows emerge that are not only entertaining but also educational and relevant. The stereotypes that have developed over time have not vanished, but we believe we are entering a modern era in which more and more eyes will be opened to the world of cyber security.

How can Edmondson's IT Services help?

At Edmondson's IT Services, we are dedicated to your business' privacy and security. This is why we stay ahead of the curve by offering proactive support that ensures your business is protected at all times. Our advanced monitoring systems makes sure we get to the problem before it even occurs. We also implement full disaster recovery so that your data is secure if the worst was to happen. To find out more, get in touch today!

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