Mr. Robot and the psychology of hacking

Mr Robot was one of the most exciting TV show this summer and the tech was, for once, pretty accurate (and not so technical)

Posted by Cédric Spalvieri on October 3, 2015

Mr Robot was one of the most exciting TV show this summer. Its plot was well structured, the work on images and music was executed perfectly, and, as many programmers noted, the tech was (for once) pretty accurate.

As a matter of fact, it was so accurate that most of the hacking process in the show is not technical at all, but psychological. Elliot, the main character, is quite a master of social engineering.

Of course there is some coding involved in the hacking process, but it’s nothing more than a tool amongst others.

As the show points out, the real hacking is done by studying human behavior in general, and some particular details about the life of the people that are being hacked. It’s not done by spending lot of time writing complex algorithm that bypasses any federal institution’s firewall in the blink of an eye.

As a programmer, I think this is something we need to keep in mind. While writing an app or a website, the coder’s job is not to have the more finely tuned lines of code (although it’s still important) but to understand the purpose of what you are doing, and how it will be part of your user’s everyday life.