Cyber viewing

Just as my recent post focussed on a selection of books related social engineering and the psychology behind cyber crime, this post will look at a range of films, documentaries and TV shows which offer insight into the industry. They’re not intended to be a definitive list, and there are many great examples which aren’t included here, but you’ll get the idea…

So, what do we have in this little collection? All 3 series of Lie to Me basically dramatise the work of Paul Ekman, deailing with microexpressions and what they tell us. Ekman was actually a consultant on the series, so you’d have to hope that a lot of what it tells us about the science is true.

Catch Me if You Can is the film of the book by Frank Abagnale, starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s quite a good adaptation, but I have to say I think the book is much better. They both document Abagnale’s exploits as a teenage con artist who spent time variously as a pilot, doctor, teacher and lawyer. He was eventually caught by the FBI and became a valuable resource to them and financial institutions, explaining how fraudsters operate and helping to develop ways of making counterfeit banknotes more difficult.

CSI: Cyber follows the same format as all the other CSI series, but focusses on a crack cyber team which includes some former black hat hackers. There are some really interesting (and realistic) scenarios brought to life in both series.

Sneakers and Hackers are both well known in cyber security circles, though quite dated now. Mr Robot is the current favourite for some of my colleagues, who tell me it’s pretty realistic in many respects.

Citizenfour is the real documentary telling the tale of Edward Snowden’s breach: at the time it was filmed the only people who knew it was happening were in the room. Snowden is a dramatisation of the events leading to Snowden making the decision to leak the documents.

We Steal Secrets is the story of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. After watching this and Citizenfour you’ll have a much clearer idea of the scale of data theft and the personalities behind two of the key people who have been maor players over recent years.

Honourable mentions have to go to a couple of films missing from my shelf. Spectre and Skyfall are the two most recent 007 James Bond films, and they both give a good idea of the art of the possible these days. Spectre in particular should ring alarm bells when you see that many governments want to share data with each other.

Die Hard 4.0 is a bit tongue in cheek, but if you think of the story with nation states involved rather than terrorists then it is also (allegedly) possible in parts. Just think of the instances where Ukraine has lost its entire power supply from time to time, or when every Estonian government department was offline for several days and you’ll see that it’s already happening (probably).

What other films or shows have you come across? Are there any you’d recommend?

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