Connect with us


Are Hackers Depicted Realistically in Movies?



Hollywood has earned a reputation for its exaggerated and often inaccurate portrayal of hackers and what they do. In their pursuit to entertain and captivate audiences, filmmakers often prioritise dramatic effect over real life.

However, a few movies and TV shows have a better depiction of hackers than others. The following article delves into hackers getting the Hollywood treatment. It also explains how to remain protected against real-life hackers.

Hollywood’s Depiction of Hackers

Hollywood tends to use these tropes when they are filming hacking scenes for TV and movies:

Not Everything Is About Personal Grudges

One recurring theme in movies and TV is the depiction of hackers as people fueled by a burning desire for revenge against a specific person or organisation. While there are instances of hackers driven to get back at someone, most hacking incidents are not motivated by personal reasons. In the real world, hackers usually pick their targets based on the desire for financial gain.

The TV show Mr. Robot portrays much of the hacking as driven by a personal need for revenge. However, the technical aspects of hacking in the show are very realistic throughout the seasons. The show even enlisted the help of a technical consultant named Kor Adana to keep scenes accurate.  

Hacking Is Not a Physical Feat

Movies often portray hackers as action stars who engage in physical stunts and use elaborate disguises to break into buildings and networks. In actuality, hacking normally takes place exclusively from a computer.

Fate of the Furious Photo: MATT KENNEDY/UNIVERSAL

Hacking doesn’t play out like a dramatic action sequence. In Fate of the Furious, hackers take over all of the cars within the city. Although it’s possible to hack cars, a city of cars can’t be overridden, especially in the dramatic way it’s depicted in the movie.

Hacking Is Not a Quick Process

Movies often depict hacking as fast and frantic, with hackers gaining access to systems in seconds. However, this is far from the truth. Hacking is a complex and time-consuming task that requires a lot of legwork. Real-life hacks can take weeks or even longer.

For example, characters in the movie Jason Bourne can access CIA documents within seconds. Another reach within the film is how quickly hackers can get traced by the government. The process would take months as government agencies request subpoenas to trace access to their files.  

No Flashy Alerts

In movies, a successful hack is often accompanied by flashy visuals and loud alarms that immediately alert the target of the breach. Detecting a hack can be challenging. Hackers take extensive measures to conceal their presence as long as possible.

The movie Hackers is one of the worst offenders regarding this trope. In the film, a virus screams for help when getting attacked.   

No Head-To-Head Battles

Movies and TV shows often depict hacking as a head-to-head battle between hackers and the good guys. On TV shows like NCIS, there are scenes where the “good hackers” are in a race against time, trying to outdo the “bad hackers.” Each side may engage in a rapid-fire exchange of attacks and counterattacks.

In real life, hackers attempt to access systems without alerting their targets. The portrayal of duelling hackers is an exaggeration of the reality of cybersecurity.

Tips for Protecting Yourself from Hackers

While Hollywood’s portrayal of hackers may not always be accurate, protecting yourself from hacking attempts is still essential.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use strong passwords for your online accounts. Choose a blend of letters, numbers, and symbols that are challenging to guess.
  • Enable two-factor authentication when it is possible. This will add an extra layer of security by requiring an additional form of verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device.
  • Keep your devices up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Never trust emails and messages from suspicious or unknown senders. Remember to never click on links or download attachments if you don’t recognise the sender. Phishing emails and messages are a standard method hackers use to gain access to your personal information.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your privacy. Some VPNs come with a tracker blocker that stops third-party web trackers from gathering data about you on the internet.
  • Regularly back up your important files and data. In the event of an attack, having a recent backup of your data can help you recover quickly.

Some Final Thoughts

Hollywood’s portrayal of hackers is usually exaggerated, but it does keep us entertained. While some productions, like Mr. Robot, try to keep things realistic, hacking isn’t as exciting to watch as it sounds. In the real world, hacking attempts aren’t quite exhilarating but still dangerous. Remember to take the necessary precautions to protect your data from hackers.  

Just For You