How Accurate is Hacker Series Mr. Robot?
The 2015 hacker series is one of the greatest silver screen achievements recently, and here some of the reasons why.
It has all the necessary elements which make up great TV- an interesting script, a great cast (Christian Slater makes a comeback) and an overall excellent quality of production.
Other than the general qualities, the series portrays lives of hackers with extreme precision. Never before has a TV series looked at these renegades in their true light. Let’s look at some aspects of this great TV series, and find out whether it is really so close to reality as everyone seems to think.
Things That the Show Gets Right
Eliot is the type of hacker who hacks so that he could make sense of the world around him. He has definitely had a troubled childhood, having to deal with his father’s death and the cruelty of his mother and the word around him. That would explain his borderline autistic behavior and abuse of drugs.
Eliot guards his source code more than anything else. He is always careful about his it, preventing anyone from finding a bug in the code that could be used against him. Taking care of his code is just something that we can see on the surface, but deep down, Eliot doesn’t know how to deal with the world around him. He hacks because it is a sort of mechanism that helps him make sense of everything, almost like an art.
He connects with people in his life by hacking them, and thus exposing their secrets and weaknesses. In this way he gains power over them, and a sense of security in life. This could be a very accurate portrayal of such a type of a hacker.
Hacking Toward Social Justice
Eliot has a strong sense of social justice which he expresses through hacking. He invades privacy of his therapist and friends in order to understand them. However, he is infuriated when he himself gets hacked.
He is kind of social hero and a renegade, especially when exposing another character for owning a child pornography site. He doesn’t want money, he just wants justice, which he brings to the offender by reporting him to the police. It this light he is a hero of his world, and objectively the world around him.
Eliot helps damsels in distress, who are being ruined by their male counterparts. His acts of heroism are noble, and aimed toward greater good. But, when he joins the F Society to fight the Evil Corp, he takes it very personally. E Corp destroyed his father and mother of his best friend Angela.
Hacking vs. Living
The show accurately portrays the problems that might arise from being hyper intelligent. Although Eliot is a computer genius, who has control over people in his life by manipulating their personal information, he doesn’t have control over other things in his life.
For example, he treats his morphine addiction by taking anti-morphine drugs, which is only prolonging the problem. Not every complication in life can be resolved with a simple logical solution, like with mathematics and hacking.
This is another thing the series gets completely right, which is admirable. Many series have tried, but failed to portray hackers in their real light. They usually end up being these computer nerds who never get off their computers and just bang endlessly on the keyboard.
The series relies on authenticity, so the hacking vocabulary and on-screen hacking is what it gets unmistakably right. He explains to the purveyor of child pornography that, even though the criminal used Tor network to stay anonymous and encrypt his data and traffic, Elliot managed to hack him. The exit nodes in Tor leak plaintext, which Eliot made uses of after being able to control the nodes. Who controls the nodes, controls the traffic? He also references Linux, rootkits, DAT. files and Gnome.
There are more authenticities like, for example, when E-Corp gets hacked. He asks, after the DDoS attack if it is a R.U.D.Y attack. A persistent worm was implanted by the F-society into the E-corp’s servers. This is a very real scenario, especially if the company is not careful. What can also prevent online hacking is use of good remote support professionals, and even with the most persistent hackers, if the cloud security is on a high level, not much could get through.
This series comes very close to the reality of hackers and the hacking world in general. With the prominence of technology, it is a subject of great importance and the series does a great job of giving us the clear picture. There are minor inconsistencies, but in general, no other show came that close to being so authentic as Mr. Robot. I would recommend it to any tech & hack lover.
Note : This is a Guest Post by Oscar Waterworth.