McAfee has produced a six-part online film that highlights the constant fight between criminal hackers and the security experts who go toe-to-toe with them, while also highlighting the story of one victim caught in the middle. The Tech Herald was offered the chance to view all six parts and, after two screenings, we can announce this was money well spent on education.
The story, directed by Seth Gordon, starts in Denver, Colorado. In Denver, we catch up with Chris Roberts, a third-party cyber forensic expert as he sits outside a house, demonstrating how an open wireless network can provide a criminal with all the basic information needed to commit any number of online crimes.
“So basically in under a minute or so, we now have the ability to access, potentially access, any one of the six other computers on their network,” Roberts explains while sitting outside the Denver home.
“Any files, any systems, in their home in under a minute. Well, minute -- minute and a half,” he adds. “This is a machine that’s been pulled off of [the shelf at] Best Buy, brought home plugged in, with a wireless router plugged in, then ‘Yea! We’ve got a home network. Sweet!’ So have I... I’ve got your home computer too.”
The project was originally conceived as a series of standalone episodes. However, as the film-makers dug deeper into the experience of victims, they realized the film’s focus had to be on the complex stories of real people doing normal online things, only to be horribly violated by ruthless cybercriminals.
As Gordon began the research phase of the film, he identified a woman living in Oregon, named Janella Spears, who was a victim of one of the largest and most elaborate e-mail scams on record. Spears’ story of losing more than $440,000 USD, and the dire effects it had on her family and marriage, became the central theme of the film series.
“People are inundated with suspicious emails and spam, but typically they view these as annoyances, not serious threats. We produced the Web-based film to make cybercrime real for people, and to help consumers understand why they need to take precautions,” said David Milam, chief marketing officer at McAfee.