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Best-worst movies about hacking and infosec? Discuss!

May 19, 20114 mins
Data and Information Security

I’m following an interesting discussion thread on LinkedIn this morning about movies involving hackers and information security in general. It was started when Rio-based security specialist Felipe Martins shared a post from his IT and InfoSec Blog about some of his favorites.

He wrote:

I’ve always loved movies, specially when they have something to do with my work area, study or personal taste, in my case Security of Information. I’ve passed years looking for movies that had something to do with Security of Information like hacking, phreaking, perimeter invasion, amongst other things.

Basically there are too types of movies, the ones that Security of Information is the main subject, and the ones that it only appears as a small part of the script.

Obviouslly the coolest ones are those in which Security of Information are the main subject.

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As I didn’t find any complete movie list on the Internet i’ve decided to make my own. Here are some of the movies I’ve found on the web related to this subject. To make things easier I prefered to post them with their respective posters or DVD covers, once the human being is visual by nature, visual memory works much better then read or written memory and probably some of you might now remember or know this movies by their names. Each poster or DVD cover was associated with the movie’s IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) site, this way it get easier to visualize all the movies with their full professional reviews. I’ve decided also not to do reviews on each movie as I would not be so impartial to the movies I really love.

The movie list is organized in remembering order, not by name, year and so.

I believe that many movie lovers will find this list very usefull, specially those who work in the same work area as myself, i hope you can forgive me if i forgot some movie. In case you remember some let me know, for me to update the list.

Have fun !

Movies on his list include Track Down, Sneakers, Live Free/Die Hard, The Net, Code Hunter, The Hacking Chronicles and the new TV series Breaking In.

Some of the movies he lists push it a bit, like Tron and Independence Day. True, the good guys hack into the evil aliens’ mothership network in the latter movie, but it’s more about aliens blowing up all our favorite landmarks and such.

Admittedly, I’m biased against Tron. I’m still not over the fact that I wasted a few bucks on that one when I was 12. Judge me harshly for feeling that way, but it is what it is.

He lists Weird Science. I love that one, but the security angle is a stretch there, too.

Here’s some of the feedback in his LinkedIn thread:

One fellow defended the inclusion of Independence Day, noting that “that one even resulted in a CERT advisory.”

Someone else wrote: “Ghost in the Shell could join the list for its cybersecurity “future soldier” requirements: Military super suit exoskeletons, head-up display helmets, thermo optical camouflage, laser-sensor activated perimetral security, unmanned air vehicles and so on. [Some of these] are actual used technologies; but in the near future [there will be] artificial intelligence armored tanks, brain hacking, cyber implant attacks, etc.”

I’m hoping this post generates some discussion on cybersecurity as entertainment. Sure, it’s trivial, but we have to have some fun once in awhile.

So tell me, which movies do you think accurately portrayed your craft? Which ones were garbage? Which ones were boring but noteworthy for what they suggest about the future?

–Bill Brenner