2015: The Year of the Fictional Hacker


It is fair to say that on the whole, technology has been a blessing rather than a curse for the vast majority of modern organisations. However, the countless hacking incidents that took place last year proved how precarious doing business in the 21st century can be.

As a result, IT security teams around the world have taken various steps, which include installing the latest antivirus software and upgrading website hosting to solutions like 100TB Bare Metal Servers, to increase virtual defences against cyber criminals and online offenders.

But at the same time, book writers and movie moguls have also capitalised on this trending topic by creating fictional stories revolving around hackers. While imagined computer geeks with fingers of fury have been around for a while, they truly came to the fore in 2015.


Previous examples of hackers

One of the first novels to explore the idea of a ‘hacker’ was Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984). It involved a disabled data thief who was tasked with hacking his way past passwords into an AI belonging to a group of millionaires.

Hacker by Malorie Blackman followed in 1992, and then towards the end of the millennium The Matrix (1999) hit cinema screens to critical acclaim. Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers, the film depicts a dystopian future where a group of cyberpunk rebels hack into the Matrix and “unplug” enslaved humans.

Although the Matrix was far removed from reality, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005) made many people realise that almost anyone’s information is readily available if you have the right expertise and tools.

10 years later, a bunch of other stories about data breaches and high-profile security incidents involving multinational corporations, and the hacker is now a mainstay of sci-fi fiction.


The year of the hacker

One of the first hacking-related releases of 2015 was Blackhat, a feature film starring Chris Hemsworth as Nick Hathaway, a talented hacker who inadvertently triggers a terrorist attack in a Chinese nuclear power plant due to a piece of computer code he wrote in his youth.

Another film that hit the big screen was Hacker, involving a Ukrainian immigrant in Canada who at first gets involved with cyber crime to support his parents back home, but which then turns into a personal vendetta against the banking system.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a sequel to the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy by David Lagercrantz, was published almost simultaneously alongside Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, which takes inspiration from secret and classified media source WikiLeaks.

TV addicts were also treated to Mr Robot, which follows a young computer programmer who suffers from social anxiety as he networks with people via hacking, and eventually gets recruited by an enigmatic anarchist.


The future for fictional hackers

With novelists, movie studios, and television production companies all profiting from the escapades of computer hackers, it seems as though media content containing cyber crime will continue throughout 2016 and beyond. Don’t be surprised to see a dramatization of a real-life data beach or security incident either.