5 Computer Hacks from Movies You Won't Believe Are Possible

#2. Hijack a TV Station


As Seen In:

V for Vendetta, The Running Man, Hackers

The Hollywood Hack:

Even in a fictional dystopian future, people love them some TV. So when it comes time for our not-taking-this-lying-down protagonist to stick it to The Man by getting his message out to the mindless masses, what better way than to hijack a TV station?

"Mess with the best ... well, maybe just don't do that."

But surely it can't be that simple for someone to take over an entire TV station and broadcast whatever the hell they want, right? Not unless they stormed the control room with machine guns. Otherwise, wouldn't Anonymous be constantly interrupting children's programming with clips of naked men doing the helicopter with their dicks?

"Keep watching, kids. This is apparently crucial for your development."

The Real-World Hack:

Actually, it's apparently easier than you might think, and it might have all started with Captain Midnight.

No, Captain Midnight isn't some shitty comic book character created by Rob Liefeld. His true origin is almost even less impressive than that -- Captain Midnight is satellite dish store owner John MacDougall of Ocala, Florida. That's right, we just totally revealed his secret identity.

That's what he looks like when he's not in costume.

Back in 1986, MacDougall was sticking it to The Man in his own way -- by hauling in shovelfuls of cash selling his customers satellite dishes that let them intercept the signals that premium channels like HBO sent to the cable companies, allowing them to watch the premium programming for free. But when HBO caught on and scrambled their signal so that satellite dish users would have to start paying for their programming like everyone else, Captain Midnight kicked into crime-fighting mode.

So he hijacked HBO's signal, and starting at 12:30 a.m. on April 27, 1986 -- presumably he wanted to pick a time when everyone would be watching -- the pay channel delivered Captain Midnight's message instead of the scheduled movie:

Via Wikipedia
Man, we totally forgot how crappy TV looked in the '80s.

HBO immediately relented from their disgustingly capitalist ways and became free for all satellite dish owners, and MacDougall was able to take an early retirement to spend some quality time with the obscene piles of money resulting from his satellite dish sales. Then he stopped daydreaming and received a $5,000 fine, one year of probation and a lifetime of being referred to by a nickname that sounds like something out of a comic book people would only buy if every last Marvel and DC title was sold out.

#1. Ferris Bueller-ize Your School Records


As Seen In:

WarGames, Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"I asked for a car, I got a computer -- and hacking lessons."

The Hollywood Hack:

Apparently casting directors in the '80s looked at Matthew Broderick and thought "Now there's a hacker if I ever saw one." Because, you know, it was the '80s -- probably they had never seen an actual hacker before. And ever since watching Broderick adjust his grades in WarGames and his attendance records in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, entire generations of slacking students have dreamed of how great it would be if "fixing" their transgressions were really as easy as sitting in front of a monochrome screen and making a few quick keystrokes.

But damn, hacking is hard in real life, and let's face it: If these students were smart enough and enterprising enough to hack into a school's computer system, then they probably wouldn't need help with their grades in the first place.

"OK, now rename the basketball team 'Please Rub Your Penis on Our Faces'."

The Real-World Hack:

But hey, this is America -- land of the free, home of the outsourcing. As any American knows, it doesn't get much easier than paying someone else to do it.

Several students at Palos Verdes High School discovered the wonders of outsourcing their nefarious activities when they paid a group of three high school juniors to do their hacking for them. The three entrepreneurial students had installed keystroke loggers on their teachers' computers to intercept the teachers' usernames and passwords, and then charged other students up to $300 a pop to hack in and bump up their grades by one letter.

But the award for student hacker with the brassiest balls would have to go to Tyler Coyner here:

Via Daily Mail
Apparently brass balls are a major cause of acne.

Coyner was running his own one-man grade-hacking ring at his Nevada high school, raking in the bucks by charging his classmates to bump up their grades. But when it came to adjusting his own grades, Coyner wasn't satisfied with just any shitty little bump: He went and made himself the undeserved class salutatorian. Presumably he was going for valedictorian, but screwed up the math.

But of course the school administration discovered Coyner's little stunt before it went too far, and the student who had genuinely put in the hard work to earn the honor took his proper place as the class salutatorian come graduation. Just kidding -- here's a video of Coyner's acceptance speech:

"I changed for the better, learning what it meant to be a student at PVHS and taking initiative in completing assigned work ... Well, sort of." Yeah, this kid might just have out-Buellered Ferris Bueller.

For more Hollywood tropes that aren't so outlandish, check out 7 Real Car Chases Way Crazier Than Anything in the Movies and 6 Real World Spy Gadgets Straight Out of the Movies.

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