Do Hackers Really Battle in Real Time?

Here at TVWriter™ we don’t often present posts that originally appeared on tech sites, but in the absolutely best interests of TV writers everywhere, today we’re making an exception.

Because no, hackers do not fight across networks in real time. And now that we’ve given away the conclusion, here’s the article from (C’mon, you knew the minute you saw the title that the answer was “No”, right? Because if it wasn’t, why would anybody write this?

by Matthew Hughes

Everyone knows that hacker-attack scene from NCIS. Working in their dimly lit forensics lab, Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) have to fend off a cybercriminal, hell-bent on stealing information about their investigation.

Amidst a torrent of indecipherable technobabble (He’s burned through the firewall! This is DOD Level 9 encryption!), the pair begin to fight back. Eventually, they end up typing simultaneously on the same keyboard. It is—for lack of a better term—ludicrous.

Take a Seat. We’re Hacking

Those scenes epitomize everything wrong with how hacking is portrayed in the world of TV and film. Incursions into distant computer systems take place in a matter of moments, accompanied by a variety of meaningless green text and random popups.

Reality is a lot less dramatic. Hackers and legitimate penetration testers take the time to understand the networks and systems they’re targeting. They try to figure out network topologies, as well as the software and devices in use. Then, they try to figure out how those can be exploited.

Forget about the real-time counter-hacking portrayed on NCIS; it just doesn’t work that way. Security teams prefer to focus on defense by ensuring all externally-facing systems are patched and correctly configured. If a hacker somehow manages to breach the external defenses, automated IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems) and IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) take over to limit the damage….

Read it all at