What is the best hacker movie? (book review)

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What do hackers really do? How do they do? To answer these questions, many people turn to movies for learning and entertainment. Pirate’s Movie Guide by Steve Morgan and Connor Morgan can help you explore your options.

April 16, 2022 •

Dan Lohrmann

Cover of Hacker’s Movie Guide

Steven Morgan

I’m often asked the question: what’s your favorite hacker movie of all time?

I’ll answer that question at the end of this blog, but while you’re considering your many options, you might want to get a copy of the helpful guide called Hacker’s Movie Guide: the complete list of movies about hackers and cybersecurity. The 2022-2023 edition was released earlier this month and is available here.

Here’s the top-level description from the book’s Amazon page:

“Hackers Movie Guide is the most comprehensive list of hacker and cybersecurity movies from 1956 to the present day. Most movies have a central theme around piracy. Others have a certain character or enough subject footage to include. Connor Morgan, co-author of Hacker Movie Guidedove deep into Hollywood, then launched into cyberspace, to produce an unrivaled roster of films.

“‘My whole life has been about wanting to be more like movie protagonists, who are younger, poorer or weaker, having to defeat Goliath, but having brains that think outside the rules,’ writes Steve Wozniak, co- founder of Apple, in his Foreword: “I have always been for the young and the powerless, the consumers against the producers. This is almost always the theme attributed to hackers in movies. Young hackers use their brains for good and fairness. We all take their side in these movies.

“For me, as a young woman, seeing the character of a teenage hacker in a movie changed the course of my life,” says Keren Elazari, whose TED talk on hackers has been seen by millions. , translated into 30 languages, and is one of the most watched talks on TED.com on the subject of cybersecurity.

“’I believe there is a hacker inside of all of us. Watch a movie and unleash your inner hacker. It might even change your life,” says Steve Morgan, co-author of Hacker Movie Guide.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CO-AUTHOR STEVE MORGAN

I first heard about this book of hacker movies from co-author Steve Morgan, who is the founder of Cybersecurity Ventures, editor of Cybercrime Magazine and Executive Producer at Cybercrime Radio.

I’ve always been impressed with the work Steve does with Cybersecurity Ventures and Cybercrime Magazine, and in particular their reports and industry metrics and projections, such as this one. When I heard that Steve was a co-author of this movie guide, it made perfect sense to me that he took on this challenge and offered this resource looking back, as well as his in-depth work looking to the future. He is also very passionate about helping the cybersecurity community as a whole.

This is what he told me when we discussed the book: “Pop culture is the best way to recruit young people into a field that desperately needs them… The book is kind of a sign of help for the cybersecurity industry. We hope to attract people of all ages and backgrounds with the book. Hackers, good ones, are heroes. Everyone in our field is fighting cybercrime and we are heroes in our own way. When I was in high school, ‘HAL’, the supercomputer of 2001: A Space Odyssey got me addicted to technology which led to cybersecurity.

FOREWORD BY STEVE WOZNIAK, AND OTHER SURPRISES FROM FILM GUIDES

Reading this guide, what immediately jumps out at you is Steve Wozniak’s interesting (and surprisingly detailed) foreword,

He recounts his upbringing and how he became interested in computers and technology.

Here is an excerpt from Woz: “I myself seek the unusual in life, not wealth or powerful people. I’m looking for the unbelievable, things that you wouldn’t believe existed and that you would make films of. I look for things that are supposedly impossible. Sometimes, but not always, you can accomplish the impossible if you struggle to find the means.

I also like that the guide features movies that date back to 1956. This time travel (in movies) shows how technology has changed, and even what people thought the future would be like a long time ago 60 years old.

I was intrigued by the many quotes from industry experts about their favorite hacker movies and how those movies impacted them. Here are three examples:

“When War games hit theaters, I was blown away. It wasn’t just the action and plot of the story that fascinated me, but also the idea that a kid with a computer could really make a difference in the world. I mostly played video games on my computer but after War games, I started exploring BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) using my trusty 110 baud acoustic modem (the same used by Matthew Broderick’s character) to connect to networks around the world and communicate with children and like-minded adults. I’ve spent many years immersing myself in hacker culture, which is why I was so excited to meet and interview David Scott Lewis, the man who inspired the main character of War games years later for my podcast. —Scott Schober, author of hacked again

“This is an awesome guide…and thankfully contains one of my favorite hacker movies of all time, Ferris Bueller’s day offwhich has the life-defining line: “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” – Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

“Films featuring ethical hackers fighting evil and criminals can engage, entertain and recruit the talents of tomorrow. These films are essential to our recruiting efforts. The movie that convinced me that computers would be an important part of my future? War games. It came out around the time President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. We were all worried about what the Cold War might bring next. Matthew Broderick played high school student David Lightman, who uses his skills to play a video game before its release and ends up infiltrating a facility. I don’t want the spoiler for those who haven’t seen it. Grab your popcorn, get your feet moving, and watch the movie that inspired me to pursue my programming classes in high school! – Theresa Payton, former White House CIO, author and star of the CBS TV show “Hunted”

MY FAVORITE HACKER MOVIE

Like Theresa Payton and Scott Schober, my favorite (and most impactful) hacker movie in the guide is War games.

I remember first watching this in 1983 when it came out, and it had a similar impact on me like many others. I loved the film and have seen it several times. In fact, it increased my desire to work for the National Security Agency, where I entered the security industry a few years later.

cyber security

Dan Lohrman

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally acclaimed cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker, and author.

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*** This is a syndicated blog from Lohrmann’s Security Bloggers Network on cybersecurity written by Lohrmann on cybersecurity. Read the original post at: https://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/whats-the-best-movie-about-hackers-book-review

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