Ever since I heard a new USA channel show centering around cyber security I kinda both rolled my eyes because Hollywood always gets hacking completely wrong, but at the same time it piqued my curiosity to see if USA would be able to change things up enough to develop a compelling drama. As it turns out, Mr. Robot is not only a really fun show with an intriguing storyline but it is incredibly accurate too (emphasis added):
While Mr. Robot’s plot is in itself is fascinating and Malek’s portrayal of Elliot is captivating, the drama’s main selling point is that it actually delivers a believable portrait of the world of hacking. So to learn more about the making of the show—which airs Wednesday nights at 10pm EST—Forbes spoke with Michael Bazzell, Mr. Robot’s technical consultant. Bazzell worked for 15 years as cyber crime detective—10 of which he spent with the FBI’s cyber crime task force—before Sam Esmail, one of Mr. Robot’s directors, tapped him as an expert to work on the show. Now a cyber crime security consultant, Bazzell spoke with us about Mr. Robot’s emphasis on accuracy and attention to detail and how it has managed to separate itself from cyber crime movies and television shows of the past.
Critics have praised Mr. Robot as one of the most accurate displays of hacking ever on television or in movies. How is Mr. Robot really getting it right in your opinion?
I think it is Sam [Esmail], 100 percent. When I first saw the early version of the pilot—which I had no influence on whatsoever—I knew that Sam not only understood hacking but had a very good grasp on it. Instead of showing hackers typing frantically and bypassing every firewall in a system, he focused right away on social engineering, email phishing and the more realistic ways that criminals will get to your information. Then there is all of the computer code. We make any computer code shown on the screen accurate. We don’t need to fake it. There is no reason to put random characters up to please the audience. We want that code to be accurate so that even the most sophisticated hacker or technical person out there will not roll their eyes at a scene.
The moment that there is a problem or something that isn’t 100% perfect, Sam is willing to change whatever needs to be changed to make it right—whether that means dialogue, changing the scene or changing where that scene goes. He is so concerned with accuracy that he is willing to sacrifice some of the story line if he has to.
Mr. Robot is actually one of the first TV dramas to get cyber security right. It is refreshing to see the show discuss a particular hacking or attack technique, and for it to be correctly discussed as well as entirely plausible.
Hopefully Mr. Robot stays this course throughout the show’s lifetime and as more people watch the show they will become more aware of the dangers lurking out there in cyber space.