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Cybersecurity Film and TV Guide

Posted on April 7, 2020

Many of us will be stuck inside for the foreseeable future. But while we won’t be heading to the movies any time soon, that doesn’t mean we have to go without entertainment!

There are tons of great movies and TV shows that touch on themes of technology and computer security, ranging from serious dramas and documentaries to more lighthearted sci-fi and action fare. In what follows, we’ll offer a few of our favorites, along with a brief (spoiler-free) description and a (slightly less spoiler-free) trailer.

Please note that most of these picks are intended for adult audiences — and some of them are definitely not for the kiddos — so if you’re considering a family movie night with teens or older children, be sure to read the ratings info about the movie to see if it’s appropriate for everyone in the room!

Mr. Robot

This USA Network series centers around a lone wolf vigilante hacker who finds himself drawn into a hacktivist revolution. Praised for its technical accuracy (the computer scenes are mercifully free of colorful GUIs and talk of “hacking the mainframe”), Mr. Robot is a great watch for anyone interested in computer security and privacy. In addition, one of the show’s virtues is the way that it goes beyond its technological subject matter, touching on themes of family, mental illness, and the ethical implications of hacktivism.

Watch the Trailer

Westworld

HBO’s Westworld is part science fiction, part Western, and wholly strange and mysterious. The show is definitely not for the faint of heart — its leitmotif is encapsulated in a line of Shakespeare which recurs throughout the first season: “These violent delights have violent ends”. For the right viewer, however, the show can be a real treat. Its superb acting, direction, and cinematography have earned the series numerous accolades. But what really makes Westworld a worthy addition to this list is its thoughtful exploration of artificial intelligence, the nature of consciousness, and the ethics of technology.

Watch the Trailer

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a modern-day Greek tragedy disguised as a Hollywood summer blockbuster: It warns of the dangers of human hubris in the face of powerful new technologies, and the folly of underestimating the unstoppable forces of nature. All of this makes the film completely relevant today, nearly three decades after its initial release. Jurassic Park also contains numerous instances of dinosaurs chasing Jeff Goldblum, which alone makes it worth watching. But the real reason it makes our list is the key role given to computer security as a plot device (as well as the memorable scene in which Samuel L. Jackson curses all hackers!).

Watch the Trailer

Battlestar Galactica

The 2004 reimagining of the classic 1970s sci-fi series garnered critical acclaim from the outset, and has stood the test of time, developing a cult following over the years. The “robots run amok” plot is admittedly pretty standard in science fiction, but Battlestar Galactica elevates this material exceptionally well. There are plenty of entertaining, well-directed action scenes and impressive visual effects, but the show’s enduring appeal rests largely on the strength of its characters — as well as its serious treatment of political, social, and even mythological themes. The 3-hour miniseries that kicked off the show also contains strong cybersecurity elements as well, ranging from the dangers of networked connections to the power of social engineering. At the time of writing, all episodes are available to stream for free on SyFy’s website.

Watch the Trailer

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is a historical drama set during World War II, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing. The film focuses on Turing’s efforts to break the Nazis’ encryption techniques, which were being used to devastating effect as a means of sending encoded military messages. The Imitation Game tells one of the most important stories in the history of computer science, and the cast (Cumberbatch in particular) received generous critical praise for their performances. While the ending is not a happy one — Turing took his own life at age 41, after being persecuted for his sexuality by the British authorities — it is a fitting testament to a genius whose work saved millions of lives.

Watch the Trailer

Citizenfour

In 2013, journalists revealed the existence of an extensive global surveillance and information sharing program, implicating the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners in the illegal wiretapping of citizens and non-citizens alike. These reports were based largely on information leaked by an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden. Citizenfour follows the documentary filmmaker and journalists who were first contacted by Snowden from their initial face-to-face meeting in Hong Kong through the subsequent public disclosure of his identity, and includes details of the NSA spying scandal as well. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2015, and is essential viewing for anyone concerned with digital privacy and government surveillance.

Watch the Trailer

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