If movies are to be believed, hackers are mostly kept busy fighting the man with CGI animations of smiley faces, or else dwelling in the darkest corners of their mothers' basements and doing purely nerdy stuff that never affects the real world. But neither assumption is true: Hacking does not look like a rad skateboarder busting a kickflip over an onyx tower, and hackers do gain access to things that can affect your daily life ... and sometimes, even end it.
8Explode Your Genitals
We think we have a pretty good idea of what hackers are capable of: stealing your personal information, crashing your computer, Rollerblading like a sonofabitch and making out with Angelina Jolie (back when she was hot, before her alien DNA kicked in and she started looking like a hawk-monster).
But today's hackers have finally crossed a line, and must be terminated with extreme prejudice. The offense? They're trying to destroy your wang.
"The good news is that your leg is going to be fine ..."
The newest MacBooks contain batteries with small monitor chips installed. It's such a discreet addition that Apple didn't feel the need to secure it, which of course means that hackers everywhere had to immediately set to work exploiting it. It gets pretty technical, but the gist of the process is this: The software uses a default password, which is the same in every single MacBook. By reverse engineering the firmware, hackers can render the battery useless or inject malware into the system through the chip (and you couldn't even wipe your hard drive and reformat the system to get rid of it, because you probably won't think to check your battery for a virus).
"Is it enough to Sharpie 'Avira' onto them?"
Or, if they're feeling particularly villainous, they could just overheat the battery of your laptop (so named because it sits on top of your lap, which, you'll recall, is where you keep your junk) to the point of bursting into flames or exploding. That's right: Hackers are after your penis.
There is just no version of that sentence that is anything less than terrifying.
"Definitely that guy. You don't play a druid without repercussions."
7Cut Your Car's Brakes
Security specialists at the University of Washington and the University of California have shown that new cars with computer systems onboard face a real security threat from hackers. These scientists were able to gain control of two vehicles and operate more than a dozen functions while the cars were in motion. This included things like braking, selective braking of each wheel (thus effectively "steering" the car) and shutting off the engine completely. Scarier still is that once they gained control of the vehicles, driver input was totally ignored: The pedals, wheel and switches all had no effect. They were also able to launch a "composite attack," in which the malicious software would be erased after a crash, effectively leaving no evidence of tampering.
Just a quick flash of smoke followed by confusion and a throwing star.
Being vehicular-manslaughtered by cyberwarriors is the worst case scenario, of course.
It's far more likely that these exploits will be used to simply steal the cars. Experts are predicting that the future of car theft is a split venture, with hackers selling their services to car thieves by providing them with the GPS location of the vehicle, then unlocking the door and starting the engine remotely so the thieves can drive off with it. Possible points of entry for a car hacker are through Bluetooth, a cellular network, the freaking tire pressure monitor and even music files. Yes, the next song you download could be your last, if the wrong hacker has been into it. So while we agree that Journey's Greatest Hits is indeed a sweet album that you totally need for that road trip, you have to ask yourself the question: Is it worth dying for?
We'll never stop believin'.
(The answer is yes, obviously.)