If Hollywood is to be believed, every single thing around you can be hacked. Is your home heated with natural gas? All a hacker needs is a Die Hard movie and a computer to blow that shit up like a volcanic eruption. Do you use a smartphone? Uh oh -- a sufficiently skilled hacker can detonate that thing like a hand grenade.
We all like to point and laugh at the ridiculousness of Hollywood computer crime, but here's the thing: With everything around you, from guns to doctors to airplanes, growing ever more connected in what nerd-types call "the internet of things," Hollywood's "everything is hackable" trope is becoming less dumb every day. For instance ...
5Electronic Billboards Can Be Easily Hacked (To Play Porn)
Electronic billboards, aka the bane of every poor bastard unlucky enough to work a shift that requires driving home after sunset, are gradually spreading to every intersection in America. Normally the image they're searing into your retinas is informing you where to buy a new Ford or how many appetizers you can get at T.G.I. Friday's for $10, but one spring Saturday in 2015 at an upscale neighborhood in Atlanta, commuters and diners at a pizza joint were instead treated to the presumably unappetizing image of a giant splayed asshole.
A concerned driver called 911 to report the "totally disgusting" image, and the FBI kicked off an immediate investigation, because apparently the FBI's time is much less valuable than we previously assumed. It turns out all it takes to hack into one of these eye-broiling behemoths is to track down its web interface, type in a password that the sign's owner probably never changed from the default, and boom! You're free to put a gigantic floppy anus on display for the world in glorious, larger-than-life LED.
And this isn't an isolated incident. Back in 2010, downtown Moscow traffic came to a standstill when a giant billboard displayed hardcore porn and drivers found themselves with a sudden shortage of hands for driving. More recently, a public billboard at a bus stop in Sweden displayed a continuous porn feed as a group of men huddled in close to watch (but not too close, because that would be weird). More recently, a hacker known only as Johnny Cockring used the aforementioned default credentials to hack into two Alabama billboards and upload Photoshopped images of then-presidential-hopeful Marco Rubio in hardcore gay porn:
Scads of Alabama commuters are still unconsciously humming "Y.M.C.A."
So, yeah -- all you need is a set of default login credentials and an adorable hacker name and you can break into one of these electronic eyesores and really brighten up someone's evening commute.
4Remote Surgery Bots Can Be Hacked To Murder You Mid-Operation
It's a staple of science fiction that future doctoring will be entirely offloaded to robots, because an electronic surgeon probably can't go on a three-day Kahlua bender just before digging into your sensitive heart meat. And while we're not at the level of fully robotic doctors yet, we are making great strides in that direction. For instance, surgeons can't always be where a necessary surgery is needed, but they can tinker with your innards from thousands of miles away via remote-operated robots. The first such procedure took place in 2001 (a fitting year for technological breakthroughs), when a surgeon in New York removed a gall bladder from a patient in Strasbourg, France. That's some next-level Captain Picard future shit.
"What level are you on?"
"Digestive tract, but I can't beat the cancer boss."
Luckily for that patient, there was no hacker standing by to carve his Xbox Live name into the patient's liver. But while the dedicated fiber connection used for that surgery would have prevented such shenanigans, it's since become clear that the internet is a much cheaper means of linkage. And when has relying on the internet ever gone horribly wrong?
Researchers led by Tamara Bonaci at the University of Washington demonstrated that, with some fairly simple remote hijacking hijinks, they could make a Raven II surgical robot's arms twitch like it hasn't gotten its digital meth fix. Worse still, they could just as easily take total control of the robot using their knowledge of the Interoperable Telesurgery Protocol ... the specs of which are freely available to any random asshat who'd like to brush up on the ins and outs of long-distance slicing and dicing.
"Med school's for noobz."
This means that, rather than your life being in the hands of a doctor with years of training, you could be at the mercy of a misanthropic hacker, a jilted lover seeking revenge on your fun bits, or a bored teenager looking to use your heaving carcass to play Surgeon Simulator minus the "simulator" part.
"Oopsie! Where's the restart button?"
As an added bonus, Bonaci's team discovered that the robot's video feed was publicly accessible. So the most horrifying prospect of all is that someone could intercept your hemorrhoid surgery, set it to the tune of Selena Gomez's "Hands To Myself," and turn it into a viral YouTube sensation (or put it on an electronic billboard).