Saturday, 7 July 2007

Die Hard 4.0 - total bollocks?

A magazine called Total Film asked me to decide whether or not the hacker plotline for Die Hard 4.0 was "bollocks". As I understand it, the story involves a group of hackers that strike at the vulnerable United States computer infrastructure. The baddies systematically shut this system down, beginning with the traffic lights and moving on to crash banking networks and the stock market, thus crippling the economy.

That does sound like a rather ambitious hack and I've not seen the film, so I'm not in a position to comment on any techniques they might use. But essentially there are precedents for the types of attack mentioned above. And let's not forget that self-professed "bumbling amateur" Gary McKinnon managed to access military systems without much effort, allegedly causing $700,000 worth of damage.

So, with that in mind, here was my initial response:

"No, it's not bollocks. All computer systems have weak points, even military and government networks. There have already been real-life cases of hackers disabling US traffic lights by hacking into the central control computer, breaking into banks and even attacking the California power grid. The Russian stock market was hammered by a virus last year, so Bruce had better dig out his copy of Norton AntiVirus quick."