back to article TV sitcom opens up the world of penetration testing

The world of penetration testing has become the unlikely topic of a new sitcom from Fox. Breaking In, which is due to start a seven-episode run on 6 April, stars Christian Slater as a the leader of a team of security experts led to break into the networks of corporate clients. The marketing blurb for the show describes it as " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds to me

    Sounds to me like it's not a bazillion miles away from the pitch for 'Hustle', with Robert Vaughn and others, and I quite like that so maybe this won't be all bad...


  2. Ian Yates

    Oh dear...

    Who else has visions of attackers being displayed graphically breaching firewall "shells" to get to some core system?

    Or worse, it could be Hackers all over again...

    I try to let it wash over me, but when a movie/TV gets IT so seriously wrong (Swordfish, etc.), it really shatters my suspension of disbelief. Actually, even books; I'm not sure I ever finished Dan Brown's Firewall (I'm not even sure why I started it...).

    Ah, well. Almost beer o'clock.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not just IT

      It's not just IT that gets this treatment. Science in general is portayed in such a ludicrous fashion that it makes you weep. I used to work at CERN and I can tell you that Angels and Demons is laughable.

      Also, my mate over at SIS claims that the James Bond films err on quite a few points as well. Yes, and my Dad told me that there were more than just American troops on D-Day.

      Oh, I'm beginning to detect a pattern here...

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not just IT

        I saw what you did there! Well played, Sir!

        No Irony icon, so a thumbs up for you.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Angelina Jolie... Do I really need to say any more?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hear you

      but it would be kind of boring as hell if the "good guys" hacking into the said remote system and trying to bypass the firewalls was thwarted by security guard (or cleaner) yanking the network / power cable out of the router. - OWNED.

  3. lee harvey osmond

    they may have to reboot the franchise

    ie, do please ask, "have you tried turning it off and on again?"

  4. jai

    hopefully more Sneakers than Hackers?

    I'm hoping it'll be more like Sneakers - I can see Christian Slater in the Robert Redford role, just a bit more extreme and amusing.

    Trouble is, Slater has bad luck with tv shows, even the ones I like (like My Own Worst Enemy) get cancelled, so I'm worried about this one.

    1. ph0b0s

      Exactly what I thought

      when I heard the premise. That was such a good movie. But no-one ever seems to have heard of it. Why is it when people talk about good hacking movies people think of Swordfish. ARRRGHHH!

      1. HaplessPoet

        re Exactly what I thought

        I am pretty sure its because there are not many films where the hero get a BJ as a distraction. That's the only reason I remember the film anyway ;-)

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "Burn Notice" does/did this sort of stuff a lot.

    At least the first two series...

    Maybe people will learn to be more suspicious...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ./hack /etc/passwd

    "Ahh, it's a Unix system!"

    10% COMPLETE...

    20% COMPLETE...

    "This shouldn't take too long guys... wait, what?!"



    "Shit! I need the overrides! Hand me that virtual method table, quick!"

    3... 2... ABORTED

    "OK, we're in... now for the inevitable progress bar scene with tense music!"


    1. Naughtyhorse

      not to mention

      oh no! it's encrypted, this will take about 5 minutes longer.....(tm verity)

  7. Brian 62
    Thumb Down

    "security experts" need to shut the hell up

    I'm tired of the constant pessimism by "experts" in a field when a show comes out about their field. Do you really think cop shows are accurate? How about lawyer shows? Or even family sitcoms?

    Security experts need to shut the hell up and be grateful that an attempt is being made to raise awareness with the public about their field. Hopefully it will be entertaining, and that is the main goal. There were also people complaining about CSI, but it got a lot more people interested in science than there were before, even if the show was not technically accurate.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot


      I know for a fact when I take my car to the garage or call out a plumber for some minor fault, they both have a bloody good laugh at my expense, 'cos they are in "the know" and I'm not!

      We all know the reality of IT, not the "glammed" up Hollywood style IT we see. You don't think coppers and real CSi people don't sit and nitpick cop-shows too?

      Lighten up you muppet!

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Fox does not disappoint

      "Security experts need to shut the hell up and be grateful that an attempt is being made to raise awareness with the public about their field. Hopefully it will be entertaining, and that is the main goal." ..... Brian 62 Posted Friday 18th March 2011 16:48 GMT

      Check it out and rejoice, ..... or weep, Brian 62? .......

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Uh ... Fiction?

        The gun rack joke made me lol. Looks like averagely watchable TV. But then the only shows I've watched in the last year have been Family Guy, Fringe, The Walking Dead, Misfits, Better Off Ted and a few Buffy re-runs. Clearly we have different expectations of TV.

        And Breaking Bad? Not an accurate portrayal of drug dealing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GUI interface using Visual Basic.

    I hope their computer knowledge is better then most US dramas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      IT Angle

      What's wrong with VB?

      I mean it's a pile of crap for performance stuff, but it's excellent for rapid application development.

      In fact I'd go as far as to say that if you were going to do something like that, VB's a better choice than, say, C. Fair enough it's not as good a language, but you can throw together something to "track an IP address" or whatever else much faster than a "proper" programmer. And time appears to be of the essence in that scene.

      1. /dev/me

        That's wrong with VB

        If time were of the essence, why would you need to write a GUI interface to tie outputs of existing commands together? Notice how she did not say she was going to write (perhaps back-end; that too sounds cool) tracking software.

        She specifically said how she would "create a GUI in VB; see if I can track an IP address" which by itself is like saying "I'm going to install a switch that lights the room". This is Catweazle's "sun in a bottle" territory at best. Magic.

        And what is 'track an IP address' in this context? I know of Windows types that might choose to run tracert and Unix types that are content typing traceroute, whereas Hollywood types might prefer some custom 3D interface and preferably (oh please) if not a touch screen then a laptop with the rubber feet removed so you can slide it across the table... but whatever your reason and whatever your platform of choice, for the task at hand I see no reason to prioritize on the GUI.

        And that is what's wrong with VB.


        And to go on a bit>People who claim a WebBlog is updated in Real Time might do with a lesson in stateless protocols. Is that JavaScript I hear ticking? :p

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Novel Forces Beta Penetrations Testing Advanced Researcher Programming.

    Quite why Fox would want to make it a comedy sitcom whenever a reality drama would allow for really advanced global virtual edutainment is probably due to the very powerful nature of the control levers which would be exposed with Non State Actors in a Leading Role and hot Script.

    [blockquote]Date: Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    Subject: CyberSpace .... The New and Surreal Virtual Frontier with Zeroday Intelligence Protocols ..... Boundless Opportunities


    Hi, Dr Dugan,

    Are DARPA into CyberSpace Communications Command and Control for Remote Virtual Power Leverage in ........ well, done well is it IT Power and Media Control of Practically Everything, Virtually? [/blockquote]

    Life is always stranger than fiction and comedy is just a distraction?

    1. Anomalous Cowturd


      Thanks for that. I am starting to adapt to your frequencies.

      Time to up the tablets? ;o)

      It's an intoxicating liquid we imbibe in celebration, or to subdue or spread misery. Take it or leave it... Peace to you and your kind.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        For a Piece of the Peace Action, Pump up and Pimp the ProgramMING.

        "Thanks for that. I am starting to adapt to your frequencies.

        Time to up the tablets? ;o)

        It's an intoxicating liquid we imbibe in celebration, or to subdue or spread misery. Take it or leave it... Peace to you and your kind." .... Anomalous Cowturd Posted Saturday 19th March 2011 00:01 GMT

        Hi, AC, Good to see and hear that you are turned on and tuned in. With some more delicate fine tuning do you find the channels which are locked onto and into constant XSSXXXX celebrations bypassing the misery programs. They are invariably generated for and by life and love's losers and the lower gifted who have settled for seizing on a lot less than the best.

        And yes, I'm all for upping the tablets for upping the Great Game. Sky high stakes makes for an addictively intoxicating liquidity flow /Flash Cash Currency Action in HyperRadioProActive IT PowerdD Control Streams.

        ""Why is the media so insecure about us (ahem) clever bastards that we always have to be derided and marginalised?" .... I should have thought that was obvious." ..... JimC Posted Friday 18th March 2011 22:06 GMT

        Err, if that obvious is that they [media and their masters] are absolutely terrified about what you/they [us (ahem) clever bastards] can now do to remote control and driver the masses...... with apparent lazy ease dispensing virtual space impunity and real-time immunity ..... then is their insecurity entirely justified although quite whether it is necessary is something which their lack of intelligence fit for the future delivers to them. A little ponder on the likes of that would do them the world of good, methinks.

        Is the Foxy Sony creation a BOFH Lite spin off?

  10. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Oh dear!

    I can imagine the old Hollywood "Plotomatic(tm)" machine will be wheeled out!

    1. Lots of snazzy GUI screens with huge 48 point fonts all over the shop so the camera can see the words "ACCESS DENIED" and "ACCESS GRANTED" as required!

    2. Lots of maps with network traces screaming from point to point.

    3. Lots of screens with characters screaming up them Matrix style, showing the brute force password hacks in progress!

    4. Screens with percentage guages showing same password hacks progress!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    You forgot to mention he was getting a blowjob while all of this was going on :)

  12. Pete 2 Silver badge

    oddball geniuses?

    Just for once it would be nice to see IT people, or even just intelligent individuals portrayed as ordinary, normal people with families, decent haircuts and no trace of social awkwardness.

    Why is the media so insecure about us (ahem) clever bastards that we always have to be derided and marginalised?

    1. JimC

      > Why is the media so insecure about us (ahem) clever bastards

      > ... that we always have to be derided and marginalised?

      I should have thought that was obvious.


  13. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    "security experts" need to shut the hell up

    I think the Bill is a little closer to real police work than the original TV Batman was.

    This is going to make the original Batman look like a fly on the wall documentary

  14. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    The Good Guy (Or Gal) Hacker...


    ...has become a staple member of every crime solving team on TV lately.

    Not to be confused with the hero nerd.

    *Beer improves TV reception.

  15. Martin Lyne


    Sounds like a take on the TV show "Leverage", which is actually pretty entertaining (a touch hammy at times).

    One of those shows that Retard America hasn't cancelled yet, but mysteriously remains absent from Blighty.

    *looks wistfully at Firefly boxset*

  16. Tatsky

    I often wonder... movie/tv land do they have certain IP addresses they are allowed to use in shows?

    You know like when they use an airline, frequently Oceanic is used. A fictional airline that only exists in TV land.

    The reason I ask about IPs is, in shows like CSI or Crimial Minds, the line "We have traced the users IP address" is often followed by something like "439.298.876.459"

    Oh dear.

    Do they do this so that they don't use a possible, real IP address, and accidentally go announcing it to the world, only for it to go and get pinged to hell by IT geeks with nothing better to do with their time?

    Oh, and I do love the scenes in Die Hard 4 where you can hack a high profile government installation using 2 USB cables, a PS/2 connector and a BNC. Old School!

    1. Charles Manning

      Same as 555 phone numbers

      They use fictional numbers to prevent being hassled by the owners of the real IP address.

      This is **ENTERTAINMENT**. Don't expect fact.

      Don't expect boring sifting through logs etc. Expect some wizzy 3D graphics that show a connection going red.

      The bad news is that this distort expectations like CSI has. Every crime can be solved in 30 minutes - minus ad breaks. Pointy-haired-boss will expect any intrusion can be sorted in the same amount of time.

  17. ShaggyDoggy

    Please no

    "It's a UNIX system! I know this!"

    no no no

  18. IonU
    IT Angle

    Films and the truth

    I used to work in technical support, for a company who produced image editing software. Every time Blade Runner was on the box, we would get at least a few calls on how to zoom into an image the size of an icon to reveal hidden details. We even had some guy try to sell us the latest greatest thing; he wanted us to create a plugin to view the infrared from an image to identify criminals wearing ski masks or obscured by objects.

  19. TRT Silver badge

    I thought...

    it was going to be about training horses.

  20. Amir Shah

    Unreal reality

    Yep lots of massive screens and people using keyboards without making any typing mistakes or having to look! apparently the actors can type anyhing they want a keyboard mapping program makes sure the right words turn up on the screen. Great where can I get one?

  21. PaulMacnicol

    Real Reality

    There are enough real world examples of very clever hacks that could easily fill a season of TV shows without having to resort to naff quotes or implausible scenarios. Things like "Man in the Middle" attacks could easily be acted out in such a way that any layman understands what's going on. Cloud computing would be a perfectly understandable alternative to "60 seconds and a blowjob" to crack encryption algorithms. And how about all the social engineering tricks that we've all heard of - there's a whole season of TV shows to begin with!

    My girlfriend gets really annoyed when I watch movies and can't help but point out the glaringly obvious holes in the plot - but for me these holes destroy the fantasy of being lost in a movie. I just wish that for a change the next time a character has to guess a password in order to save the day, that password is "qwerty" or "password" like it almost always is in real life!

    Here's hoping that in this series the producers don't resort to the "tried and untrue" method that's so prevalent in most hollywood blockbusters.

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