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7 Things You Can Learn About Cybersecurity from Mr. Robot

The hit drama show Mr. Robot garnered a lot of attention when it first started airing. The show managed to quickly build an avid fan base thanks to its realistic portrayal of cybersecurity and the hacking community. Between all of the dramatic bits (this is still a TV show after all), it also did a great job showing how vulnerable people are to cyberattacks.

What Mr. Robot managed to do so well is show how the “victims” were careless enough to provide opportunities for hackers to take advantage. Their actions mirror what many people tend to do in real life, which allows them to learn some important lessons. Here are 7 cybersecurity lessons that everyone can learn from Mr. Robot.

1. Use Strong and Unique Passwords

Cybersecurity professionals have kept hammering on this one point for decades, and yet it still needs to be said. In the show, the main character Elliot manages to get into people’s accounts with minimal effort, thanks to how easy their passwords are to guess. He used common techniques like brute force attacks and dictionary attacks that are also used by hackers today.

If that’s not enough to scare anyone into changing their passwords immediately, then nothing will. Always make sure to use a unique and complex password for every account. And don’t write them down! Use a password manager instead, if remembering them all isn’t an option.

2. Don’t Leave Devices Lying Around

Locked devices are indeed harder to get into, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to lose sight of them. Early on in the show, the CTO of E Corp takes an employee’s phone when they leave the room and gains full access to it by installing an app with a hidden icon.

This may not have happened if that employee had a lock on their phone. Or it could just have meant that the CTO had to get more creative before he could gain access to the phone. The point is that he wouldn’t have had the chance at all if the employee had taken their phone with them.

3. Beware of Social Engineering

Social engineering is a fancy term that means manipulating others into revealing information or doing something. There are various forms of social engineering. The methods most used in Mr. Robot are baiting and pretexting, but phishing is also a widespread method.

Be skeptical of any call or message from a stranger, even if they claim to be someone important like a bank employee. Do not give any information to just anyone that claims to need it. If needed, hang up and call the company back on an officially listed number and take it further from there.

4. Think Before Sharing Anything on Social Media

In the show, Elliot had to learn a bit of information about his targets to guess their passwords, whether through talking to them or looking at their social media. Hackers can find out a lot about someone by going through their social media profiles.

So be careful about sharing anything and think about how a malicious person could use it. If it gives away too much personal information, then don’t share it. Also, adjust social media profile settings so strangers can’t have full access to everything.

5. Don’t Insert Unknown Drives into Computers

In one episode, Elliot drops a flash drive in a prison parking lot where a guard picks it up. The guard used the malware-infected drive on a work computer, which thankfully (for him) had an antivirus that could detect and block the malware. But what if that hadn’t happened? Similar things have happened in real life too, with not so great results.

The lesson here is never to insert any drives or disks into a device when their origin is unknown.

6. Use a VPN for Network Security

While they never explicitly say so, it’s a good bet that Elliot uses a VPN at some point or another in the show. True, Elliot isn’t exactly a model example, but it does speak to the importance of using VPNs.

Elliot likely uses VPNs to hide his online activity, but they are much more than that – they protect people from hackers like Elliot too. Virtual private networks use strong encryption algorithms to keep connections safe from outside interference and protect data from being stolen in transit.

Yes, they also help make connections more anonymous, which provides other benefits too. But the biggest one is their ability to keep any data people send or receive over the internet safe.

Final Thoughts

If a show like Mr. Robot can help teach people about cybersecurity during a time when education on the subject is desperately necessary, then that’s fantastic. Shows and other entertainment forms that follow a similar “educational” vein might just be more of what the world needs right now.

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What do you think?

Kane Dane

Written by Kane Dane

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