Being cynical about a hacker drama is a natural first reaction because Hollywood and hacking don’t seem to get along well. A handsome young man who hacks the NSA while spouting buzzwords and burbling gibberish isn’t my idea of an authentic hacker. It seems that the big studios are more likely to covey a solid story about the moral code than a computer one. But, we managed to find some quality TV shows and movies about hacking and coding you should check out.
This TV show took us by storm, for it is a great piece of modern art that doesn’t talk down on the audience. The main protagonist is a believable hacker: Intelligent and complex, yet emotionally unstable. The show also manages to portray hacking as an imperfect mechanism of coping with the world and a driving force behind social change. We would definitely like to get such technical authenticity more often in TV shows and to hear such accurate references to Tor, Linux, Gnome, rootkits and .DAT files.
This classic movie tells a story about a whiz kid who manages to connect into a top-secret military super-computer. The plot may signal that the technical accuracy isn’t in the spotlight, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Main character first hacks into school to change grades, then takes advantage of real exploits in payphones to make free calls, and plays video games with a military AI. It might be an outdated movie, but with a great portrayal of hacking back in the 1980s. Someone did their homework thoroughly for this movie, and it shows.
Not many movies manage to nail modern coding and computers, but Social Network seems to be an exception. It’s a biopic about the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, with a flawless technical side to it. The most interesting thing is that Fincher made hacking interesting and stylish, without resorting to cheap tricks and flashy animations. Everything that Zuckerberg says in key scenes makes sense, and we are spared the pointless technobabble and eschewed tech accuracy so many movies sport.
Person of Interest
Next on our list is a science-fictional drama about government surveillance that glues viewers to the TV. Some claim that this show predicted Edward Snowden, because of the episode about an NSA whistleblower. Although the series were supposed to offer the glimpse into the future, it seems that that future is now. But, the most impressive thing is the Machine, a computer system designed to survey, but never to divulge personal information about targets. An advanced computer module hides their identities by representing them in numerical codes.
Last, but not the least is a movie about a group of security analysts who use university equipment to hack and distribute funds to various liberal causes. When they are offered a job by the CIA, their mission is to prevent the chip that can crack any computer from falling in the wrong hands. Here we see that the world is no longer controlled by weapons and money, but little bits of data and a complex matrix of digits. With great writing and casting, it still holds up well today and is one of the best hacking movies ever.
In the very end, here is a little something for all of you who like everything hacking-related, but lack the skills. Geek_typer| is a web app that turns you into a hacker, and quite recently it became available for Android, Apple and Windows Phone powered devices. Though it’s only a gimmick, it still looks cool, and you can “impress” your friends or trip out total strangers in a coffee shop.