Mr. Robot – Cybersecurity’s Growing Prevalence

A new hacking drama premiered last week on USA Network to rave reception. “Mr. Robot” is a show about an antisocial cybersec engineer-by-day/hacker-by-night named Elliot who gets approached by a secretive hacker collective that is attempting to bring about a financial revolution by way of wealth redistribution on an unprecedented scale.  After putting the first episode online a month early—a pilot that feels like a contemporary mashup of “The Matrix” and “Fight Club”—USA was so impressed with the numbers that it renewed the show for a second season before the episode even aired on TV.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed the two episodes that have aired so far.  “Mr. Robot” looks to be a gripping, intense thriller, full of both dark conspiracies and warmer human moments.  More tellingly, though, is how audiences have already taken to the show en masse.  If nothing else, it’s a timely story, as massive data breaches and other hacking headlines are in the news now more than ever before, and people are sitting up and taking notice.

New research from Zix Corporation corroborates this, revealing that 84% of Americans actually want greater transparency from companies on any data breaches they suffer, while 70% of customers say they keep themselves up to date on these incidents.  Evidently, open lines of communication between afflicted entities and customers are thus of increasing importance.  I certainly notice this uptick in my own life, as more people are knowledgeable about the subject if I bring it up in conversation than have been in the past.  Consumers are getting hit where it hurts by cybercrime in recent years, the IRS breach being just the latest example of hackers compiling profiles of individuals and then going after their most sensitive information.

All of which is part of what makes “Mr. Robot,” which was in the works before even the Sony hack of 2014, so relevant, not to mention eerily prescient.  The moral complexities and ethical conundrums examined in the character of Elliot, who is only able to connect with others on a meaningful level by hacking them to learn about them—sometimes using this information to help them—these grays are a fascinating element of the show.  Particularly the ease with which the data is acquired, the window created into another person’s life, which another agent with more malicious motives than Elliot would use for their own advantage.  This is surely a rising concern these days in the real world, if ever there was one.

You never know who is going to access your personal information or when, so always be vigilant in monitoring your accounts.

By: Jonathan Weicher