With hacks and cyber attacks making news headlines, cybersecurity awareness is top of mind for many companies and their customers. The world of cybersecurity can be a complicated one to wrap your head around, which is why watching movies and documentaries about cybersecurity are good ways to learn about what’s happening behind the scenes — and give you ideas on how you can tighten up your own security. Here, the experts at ESET round up their top recommendations for cybersecurity documentaries.
#1 The Great Hack (2019)
Screening on Netflix, this documentary covers the rise and demise of Cambridge Analytica, the London-based firm that worked on Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign in 2016. Why was it a scandal? The political consultants pulled the data of 50 million Facebook users without their consent — and then proceeded to study their psychological behaviour and potential voting habits. They then turned all that insider information into targeted advertising, which contributed to Trump’s victory as well as Brexit.
The Great Hack explores data and privacy breaches through the roles of multiple people who were affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Along with looking at the political misuse of data, the film raised concerns about Facebook’s security and highlighted just how valuable — and vulnerable — our personal data is.
Related film: Hacking Democracy (2006) investigates cybersecurity’s role in preventing election fraud during the 2004 US presidential election.
#2 Risk (2016)
This documentary is based on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who gave filmmaker Laura Poitras access to his life (and later tried to censor the film). She began filming in 2011 and finished in 2016, a time period that not only covered Assange’s house arrest but the release of many sensitive documents by WikiLeaks.
While the documentary covers the difference between WikiLeaks and mainstream media, it also emphasises the importance of proper cybersecurity. WikiLeaks allowed sources to anonymously leak classified information, including thousands of US military documents and hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager. As the gatekeepers of so much confidential information, these organisations should have had better cybersecurity measures in place, and the movie has lots of teaching moments and simple cybersecurity tips.
#3 Terms & Conditions May Apply (2013)
Whenever you sign up to a new app, site or social media platform, there’s usually a long list of terms and conditions that you need to acknowledge. But how many of us scroll right through these, without even reading what we’re agreeing to? That’s the basis of Terms & Conditions May Apply, a documentary that reveals how internet and smartphone users hand over access to their data in exchange for a product or service.
In the documentary, filmmaker Cullen Hoback investigates what corporations and governments do with that data, and exposes the extent of data that are collected. He explains how information posted on social media stays on the platform’s servers for the long term, and on a positive note, looks at companies that handle user privacy well.
#4 The Defenders (2018)
Many cybersecurity documentaries look at the culprits and victims, but not The Defenders. This documentary shines a light on the security professionals who work to identify and contain cyber attacks, and how they help to mitigate losses. It focuses on some of the biggest cybersecurity incidents of the last decade, including hackers’ attempts to breach The New York Times, Sony Pictures, the London Olympics and San Francisco’s transit system.
These events were partly successful, with cybercriminals managing to leak Social Security Numbers, email addresses and movies. In analysing these attacks, The Defenders also explores the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats, and how hard people in the industry work to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
Related film: Code 2600 (2012) explores the events that shaped the Information Technology Age, and how hacking is a hobby for many cyber criminals.
#5 Zero Days (2016)
Malware is a persistent problem in the cybersecurity world, and this documentary shows the worst-case scenario at the hands of talented hackers. It tells the story of the “Stuxnet worm,” a notorious piece of malware known as “Operation Olympic Games.” The virus was allegedly developed by the United States and Israel to try to derail Iran’s nuclear program in 2010.
Zero Days introduces the concept of cyber warfare, and helps viewers to understand these types of battles. On a consumer level, it also highlights how sophisticated malware has become, and the devastating effects it can have — in turn reiterating the importance of having good anti-malware software on all devices.
Curious about cybersecurity?
If these movies about cybersecurity piqued your interest and you’re trying to avoid becoming the next cybersecurity scandal, it’s worth investing in premium software that’s constantly updated. ESET refresh their product portfolio often to offer maximum protection against the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, while making sure they’re introducing a host of new and improved features to their products to meet and protect customers wherever they are on their digital journey.
To learn more about cybersecurity and train your team on best practices, check out ESET’s Cybersecurity Awareness Training. You’ll learn even more about best practices and find out how to make cybersecurity a key part of your company’s culture.