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What War Games teaches us about security (Part 2)

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Posted on July 4, 2012 by

This is the second part of my posts on what the 1983 move War Games can teach us about security.  Here, I want to talk about the part of the movie where David Lightman (Matthew Broderick’s character) realizes that he almost started World War III and is in the process of throwing away any evidence that he hacked into NORAD.  At that moment, the NORAD supercomputer WOPR calls David.  Later in the movie, McKittrick (Dabney Coleman’s character) says it’s impossible for the WOPR to call someone.  Well, he was obviously wrong, because the WOPR did call out.  Fail!  Which brings us to our second lesson. (more…)

What War Games teaches us about security (Part 1)

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Posted on July 4, 2012 by

I recently re-watched War Games, the 1983 movie staring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy. If you haven’t seen it, stop. Go watch it. We’ll play a game of chess while we wait for you.

One of the great things about War Games is that it shows a fairly realistic depiction of a hack. At the beginning of the movie, we see David Lightman use a Wardialer to find phone numbers connected to modems. It turns out NORAD had left a phone line exposed to the outside and that allowed David Lightman to access the WOPR. Later on in the movie, one of the Sys Admins at NORAD said, “The phone company screwed up! They exposed a phone line.” This leads us to our first lesson. (more…)