From blatant fear mongering to the downright hilarious, hackers have been shown in many and often wildly inaccurate ways.
We ask the question; do these depictions make raising cyber awareness harder?
To answer that we take a look at some of the ways hackers and hacking in general is depicted in the media. Or, you could just jump to the end of the article for some laughs. The choice is yours!
The media typically use images depicting hackers as hooded and sinister evildoers with tv shows often showing them doing the impossible.
To a non-savvy person, a hacker is someone to fear. By showing hackers doing the impossible it only adds to the common feeling that a ‘normal’ person is helpless in the face of cyber threats and reinforces the common myths about cyber.
In reality, hackers come in many different forms.
Some are highly skilled individuals working for nation states or big business, others have little in the way of technical skills who are just out to cause trouble or simply just experiment and then there are the hacktivist groups such as Anonymous that see like-minded people work towards common (often political) goals.
There’s currently a debate over whether the dictionary definition of ‘hacker’ should be changed. Currently, the Cambridge dictionary defines them as; ‘a person who is skilled in the use of computer systems, often one who illegally obtains access to private computer systems.’
Campaigners are calling for a change. Their main issue is the use of the word ‘illegally’ and how it denotes a negative stereotype. This is something that needs to be addressed in order to attract more talent into the cybersecurity sector and help close the cybersecurity skills gap.
Hoodies, dark bedrooms, anonymised faces, lots of black…you can spot a hacker image a mile off!
Whenever a data breach or hack occurs in the news pretty much every newspaper uses an image similar to those below.
Talk about putting the fear into people! In reality, most hackers do not sit in dark bunkers wearing masks and hoods. Most are everyday men and women either simply looking to experiment and have fun or those people who like a challenge.
The narrative that hackers are all scary criminals also needs to change. It’s not accurate.
There are many people who could be classed as hackers who not only defend organisations from criminals but are in fact the backbone of the cybersecurity sector itself.
White hat hackers for example often work for cybersecurity companies and use their skills to protect organisations and counter the threats posed by more nefarious hackers.
There are countless images in the same vein, it’s time some more realistic ones were introduced if we’re ever going to normalise the cyber threat, images like these need to be put in the bin.
There are so many hilarious depictions of hackers in TV and the movies that it was really hard deciding which to include as examples in this article.
Here’s just a few of the best of the worst.
NCIS - This show regularly depicts hacking in hilarious ways but this scene is probably the best of the lot.
Jurassic Park – Even as a kid watching this scene in the cinema I thought that this doesn’t quite seem believable. Also, instead of standing there doing nothing why doesn’t the other kid just hand them the gun?
Castle – This scene is just as cheesy as it is hilarious.
Hackers – Do you remember when hacking resembled a game of Pac-Man… we don’t either.
For many more examples of terrible depictions of hackers and hacking check out this Reddit threat that is devoted to them - https://www.reddit.com/r/itsaunixsystem/top/?t=all
Oh, and if you want to hack like the ‘pros’ in the movies check out this fun little site - https://hackertyper.net/
The depictions above are amusing and unrealistic, but they have in their own way helped to raise awareness of the cyber threats albeit inaccurately to the public.
As more and more businesses operate online cybercrime is increasing and awareness needs to rise along with it.
With the rise in automated cybercrime services, it’s only a matter of time before your organisation is attacked.
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