How Horror Movies Can Imitate Real-Life Scenarios for CSOs

scary movies

Here are five iconic movies whose plot lines might be adapted to strike fear into the heart of today's tech professionals. The horror movie genre has given us some great classics through the years, but for IT managers the real nightmares are the threats they face every day. This information was supplied by Troy Gill of AppRiver.

The Ring

Movie: The Ring

Real Life Horror: Mobile Exploits

The Ring tells the story of a common consumer electronic device (a VHS tape) that brings death to all who watch it. The story plays on our fear that something so familiar could be so destructive. That's a fitting metaphor for mobile devices that become infected with malware. As more consumers rely on mobile devices to conduct business and banking transactions, Black Hats will increasingly find ways to exploit such devices. In fact, mobile malware is on the rise with no end in sight. Unfortunately, there are entire websites full of rouge apps, many of which are designed to intercept banking credentials and token codes so that theft may occur.

28 Days Later
DNA Films

Movie: 28 Days Later

Real Life Horror: State Sponsored Attacks

In the movie, a government-created virus is released into the wild, causing widespread chaos and destruction. This genie-out-of-the bottle plot line is being played out now as a new era of state-sponsored espionage and intellectual property theft has arrived. Not that long ago a group identifying itself as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters was waging an ongoing series of DDoS attacks against major U.S. banking institutions. The group's attack has caused major interruptions for targeted systems and reportedly operates under the direction of the Iranian government. Other examples include the recent attack on energy giant Telvent, which fell victim to a sophisticated cyber intrusion and intellectual property theft that was directly related to advanced smart grid technologies.

New Line Cinema

Movie: Se7en

Real Life Horror: Hacktivism

In Se7en, a psychopath isn't content with simply murdering his victims. Instead, he uses his savagery to make a point about the way they lived their lives. In the same way, hacktivists commit crimes to expose their victims' perceived wrongdoing. Hacktivism continues to thrive. In fact, hacktivists are increasingly posting their intended targets' identities (often in advance) on open forums, while divulging the spoils of their crime after the fact. Large corporations and law enforcement agencies have been popular targets recently with the intent to damage reputation or disrupt workflow. Unfortunately, countless security breaches have been committed, with stolen data of innocent people (i.e., customer account information, usernames, passwords, etc.) often made public to showcase hactivism "success."

The Thing
Universal Pictures

Movie: The Thing

Real Life Horror: The Advanced Persistent Threat

Who can you trust? That's the problem faced by a team of scientists in Antarctica in The Thing. An advanced alien organism can imitate each one of them perfectly. When they try to kill it, they discover that each of its parts is a separate organism capable of regenerating. Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) are attacks targeting either political, governmental or business entities. Unlike the vast majority of attacks that are aimed at getting in and out as quickly as possible for immediate financial gain, APTs are generally surreptitious with greater focus on maintaining its presence on a system.


Movie: Species

Real Life Horror: Web-based Threats

A beautiful woman lures unsuspecting males who find out only too late that she's really a hideous alien. Every day, that same tactic (with many variations) is used by scammers and cyber crooks to get Web users to unknowingly download malicious content. A spike in malware that is hosted and/or distributed via webpages has been driven, in large part, by exploit kits such as Blackhole, RedKit and Phoenix. These kits have become highly available to those who want to enter the malware distribution market. They can also be devastatingly effective. Once a website is exploited it often becomes the host to malicious JavaScript, which serves as a redirect to cybercriminals' malware install.