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SPRING 2019 SECURITY SMART 2 Top 5 Hacker Tales Worth Watching Writer J.M. Porup, who covers national and in- formation security issues, describes how some of his favorite hacker-themed hits influence how we think about computer security. The work of security pros inspires tales of derring-do, not all of them honest or accurate. But those stories in turn affect our laws, our norms, the way we talk about and think about our- selves, for better or worse. Here are five must-watch hacker mov- ies, in no particular order. 1 Hackers (United Artists, 1995) Hackers spins the tale of white- hat hackers battling a black hat who, inexplicably, wants to steal $21 million dollars and capsize five oil tankers to cover his tracks. It's campy and hard to take seriously, but full of counterculture styles that have influ- enced how hackers dress and speak—even if only in jest. "Hack the planet," a phrase the pro- tagonist utters while being handcuffed and stuffed into the back of a cop car, has be- come something of a rallying cry for offen- sive security pros of the less savory variety. 2 The Matrix (Warner Bros., 1999) Will you take the red pill or the blue pill? The metaphors The Matrix gave us to discuss hacking and malware and the nature of computer-interme- diated experience resonate to this day. As our world be- comes more and more con- nected, the threat of gaslight- ing grows as well. Are you seeing what is real or what someone wants you to see? Both targeted propaganda and malware fall into this category. 3 War Games (United Artists, 1983) "Would you like to play a game?" the terminal asks a young Matthew Broderick. Naturally he responds, "Lets play Global Thermonuclear War." And so it begins. When a high school hacker whose biggest crime is tweaking his grades discovers a new online game server, he doesn't realize he's playing with a govern- ment computer. World War III nearly ensues, along with thoughtful contemplation of nuclear an- nihilation and the unwinnable nature of nuclear conflict. Ronald Reagan was so disturbed by the movie that in 1984 he signed into law the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). 4 Sneakers (Universal Pictures, 1992) Sneakers manages to be both entertain- ing and (mostly) technically accurate, while avoiding fearmongering excesses. The movie follows security pro Robert Redford and his team as they confront an unsavory plot, which naturally would be a spoiler to describe. As IMDB puts it, Redford and his team "are tasked with retrieving a particularly important item." What might that "important item" be? You'll have to find out for yourself. 5 Mr. Robot (USA Network, 2015-present) Mr. Robot has made quite a splash in the information security community because its technical advisors go to great pains to get the details right. Information security folks have been known to pore over the show, frame by frame, double-checking the plot lines and computer screens and, so far, delighting in how plausible they are. So much better than just having an actor flail his fingers at the keyboard and ut- ter mumbo-jumbo about firewalls and finally proclaim "I'm in!" Tweens on Social Media: Safe or Sorry? A whopping 94% of parents of tweens (9- to 12-year-olds) agree that social media makes it easier for their kids to get in trouble, according to a recent survey. The flip side is that 61% of them feel social media also makes it easier to keep track of their tweens. SOURCE: C.S. MOTT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL NATIONAL POLL ON CHILDREN'S HEALTH, 2018 Planning a summer in Sicily, or a busi- ness trip to Tokyo? Wherever you may be headed outside the country, the U.S. Department of State encourages you to use its Smart Traveler Enrollment Pro- gram (STEP), a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling or living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The benefits: ■ Receive important information from the U.S. embassy about safety condi- tions in your destination country, so that you can make informed decisions about your travel plans. Sign Up Before You Take Off ■ Help the U.S. embassy contact you in an emergency, whether it in- volves a natural disaster, civil unrest, or a family crisis. ■ Help your family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency. If you're not traveling yourself but would like information about safety con- ditions in specific countries—maybe your child is an exchange student in France or your spouse is at a conference in China— you can sign up to receive travel adviso- ries for those areas via email. For more information and to register, go to For more information on staying safe online here at BSU or at home, contact

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