Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mr. Robot' a Hit with Actual Hackers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Mr. Robot' a Hit with Actual Hackers

Article excerpt

USA Network's new drama "Mr. Robot" starts with a dark and shadowy scene in which protagonist Elliot describes a vast global conspiracy. At first, the show may seem like another caricature of hacker culture - Elliot often wears a hoodie, he's disaffected, he's a loner - but people intimately familiar with the darker corners of the Internet have so far praised the show for its accuracy.

"I know people pretty much exactly like that character," says Gregg Housh, formerly an active member of the hacktivist collective Anonymous who also worked as a consultant on the Netflix series "House of Cards."

Elliot, played by Rami Malek, is a troubled young man who works as a cybersecurity engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night. He's recruited to join an underground hacking group that solicits his help to bring down the company that Elliot is paid to protect.

The character rings true from "paranoid and introverted personality" to "how he dresses," says Mr. Housh, who saw "Mr. Robot" ahead of its premiere Wednesday night. Even from one episode, he said, it seemed that the producers and writers cared about the "little details" and took pains not to portray the lead character Elliot in a "sensationalist" way.

One of those details is Elliot's penchant of hacking anyone who comes into his life, from coworkers and his therapist, as if he's satisfying an addiction.

"No other hacker television show or film has really explored that aspect," says Jaime Cochran, the former leader of a notorious hacker and trolling crew who appeared in the 2014 documentary "The Hacker Wars." "It is an addiction, truly," she says. "It takes a special type of person who won't let the computer best them."

Indeed, she said, Elliot's character will resonate with "anyone that ever grew up idealistic in the hacking scene." The character's antiestablishment attitude will resonate within that community, where many see hacking or other computer actions as forms of protest and effective ways to fight global injustice. …

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