Top Ten: Cybersecurity Films of All Time

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For the first Infosecurity print issue of 2021, we felt it would be interesting to take a look at the many films with cybersecurity themes that have appeared on our screens throughout the years and compile our all-time top 10. This is, of course, a topic that can lead to hours of lively debate among security pros, and any analysis of this kind will naturally generate controversy. Even defining the parameters of what constitutes a ‘cybersecurity film’ is a challenge, with crossovers into the fields of sci-fi and fantasy inevitable.

Following consultation with Infosecurity readers on Twitter, we have compiled a list of 10 films in which cybersecurity issues and themes play a core role. These have been subsequently ranked according to IMDb ratings.

1. Catch Me if You Can (2002)

Crime thriller Catch Me if You Can centers on the real life story of fraudster and imposter Frank Abagnale. After being sent to prison for his scams, he is offered the opportunity to put his skills to good use by working for the FBI bank fraud unit.

IMDb rating: 8.1

2. The Imitation Game (2014)

Portraying the mathematician Alan Turing and his work during the Second World War decrypting the German code machine Enigma, this movie highlights what many consider to be the world’s first computer in action.

IMDb rating: 8.0

3. Millennium Trilogy (2009)

This trio of films follows the actions of antisocial investigator and hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist. While not directly about cybercrime, hacking and detection of digital footprints play a major part throughout the series.

IMDb rating: 7.4

4. Enemy of the State (1998)

This film explores the subjects of privacy and state surveillance when a murder is linked to plans to expand the powers of US intelligence agencies. When a journalist gains footage of the murder, he is persecuted by government agencies and must find a way to expose the truth.

IMDb rating: 7.3

5. Snowden (2016)

A biography of Edward Snowden – whose leaking of classified information from the NSA in 2013 continues to make headlines – this film covers a range of highly relevant cybersecurity themes, in particular state surveillance and data leaking.

IMDb rating: 7.3

6. Sneakers (1992)

Next on our list is the classic cybercrime film Sneakers. A hacker is tasked with helping the NSA secure a black box that proves capable of breaking the encryption of nearly every computer.

IMDb rating: 7.1

7. WarGames (1983)

Set during the Cold War, this sci-fi thriller touches upon themes such as hacking, cyber-espionage and automation. When a young hacker accesses a US military supercomputer, the very real prospect of nuclear war arises.

IMDb rating: 7.1

8. Tron (1982)

This 80s classic explores the relationship between real and virtual worlds. When attempting to expose the plagiarism of a businessman, Kevin Flynn is transported inside a mainframe computer, where he has to use his programming knowledge to escape.

IMDb rating: 6.8

9. Hackers (1995)

Released in the mid-90s, this film follows a group of young hackers and their involvement in a corporate extortion conspiracy. This is arguably the film which placed hacking and cybercrime firmly into the consciousness of the wider public.

IMDB rating: 6.3

10. The Net (1995)

The Net tells the story of systems analyst Angela Bennett, who lives her life almost entirely in the online world. Following an altercation, her identity is removed from existence and she has to both fight for survival and regain her identity.

IMDb rating: 5.9

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