I watch a lot of television. Probably too much. I’m fond of action shows. I’m really fond of all the various comic book shows.
The single thing these shows have in common is they all have at least one computer genius. A girl or guy geek who’s the best hacker in the business. They always have at least a half-dozen computer monitors in front of them. Each one has 10 or more windows open with lines of data scrolling by at about a hundred miles an hour. They can do anything and everything. Instantly.
BOSS: I know this is illegal, but I need you to hack into the CIA, NSA and FBI servers. They have the most secure and impenetrable firewalls ever designed. Can you do it?
COMPUTER GENIUS: I was into all three 15 seconds ago, sir.
The ones that work for the FBI can find anything in 10 seconds or less.
FBI BOSS: Our serial killer is male, early thirties, white, and probably living in a two square mile region south of Albany, Georgia. He’s left-handed and likes string cheese. We need to narrow our search …
FBI COMPUTER GENIUS: Found him! His photo, home address and a copy of his permanent High School record have already been sent to your phone.
But this got me to thinking. What would these shows look like if they were happening in the real world?
BOSS OF SUPER SECRET GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION TASKED WITH SAVING THE WORLD FROM SUPER BAD EVIL DOERS: OK, listen up. You two are the world’s best black hat and white hat hackers. We’ve brought you here because a Super Bad Evil Doer has stolen software that will allow him to access all the world powers’ nuclear codes. He is demanding 1 trillion dollars in ransom or he will launch all the missiles at once and destroy the Earth. You each have a whole bunch of computer screens in front of you with dozens of boxes open scrolling lines and lines of stuff. You have less than 10 minutes to somehow find our Evil Doer and figure out a way to block him from launching those missiles. Can you do it?
HACKER #1: Yes, but we will need to write some specialized software, at least 10 to 20 thousand lines of code.
BOSS: My God! Can you do it in time???
HACKER #2: Already done sir. Now, all we have to do is upload it to the Evil Doer’s computer. Ready to send in 3, 2 ….
HACKER #1: NO! NO! NO!
HACKER #2: What’s wrong? OH GOD NO! NO! NO!
BOSS: What’s happening?!
HACKER #1: My computer is shutting down!!
HACKER #2: MINE TOO!
BOSS: Are you being hacked? Have your computers been infiltrated by some kind of malicious software? Does the Evil Doer have a genius hacker of his own???
HACKER #1: WORSE! Windows just installed updates! It’s rebooting so the updates can take effect!
BOSS: Can you stop it!??
HACKER #2: It’s too late! Look! It’s already started rebooting and configuring the updates!
BOSS: There’s nothing you can do???!
HACKER #2: No sir. Look at the screen. It says “Please do not power off or unplug your machine while updates are in progress”!
BOSS: How long will it take to reboot?
HACKER #1: God only knows! Look! It’s still installing update six of ten! This could take an hour! Even more.
BOSS: We have less than ten minutes before nuclear Armageddon! What are we going to?
HACKER #1: Wait! I’ve got it! I can use my smartphone!
HACKER #2: Yes! We will have to adapt about 15 thousand lines of code but …
HACKER #1: It’s done! OK now, all I have to do is input and send the kill command. “NEUTRALIZE ALL NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES.” And … done!
BOSS: Thank God!
HACKER #2: Oh NO! You entered “NEUTRALIZE ALL NUCLEAR LUNCH CODES”!!
HACKER #1: What?! Damn you AUTOCORRECT!
BOSS: What do we do now!!
HACKER #2: You know what? Pay the ransom. I’ve had it with Windows. I mean look, it’s still on update 6 of 10! We’re going to be here all day!
HACKER #1: I agree. Pay the money. This is just too much trouble. I’m telling you, ever since my phone updated to iOS 9.0.1, nothing works right.
HACKER #2: Tell me about it.
As the two hackers walk off into the sunset discussing whether or not upgrading to Windows 10 would make the situation better or worse, small mushroom clouds appear in the distance.
Yeah, that’s pretty much how it would happen.