Experts fear hacking scenes in Matrix Reloaded are too accurate

The British Computer Society has warned film fans not to try to emulate the realistic depiction of computer hacking seen in hit...

British Computer Society members have warned film fans not to try to emulate the realistic depiction of computer hacking seen in hit film The Matrix Reloaded.

The society said many experts were sufficiently concerned about the accuracy of some of the computing scenes that they have alerted young enthusiasts about the illegality of hacking and the tough prison sentences handed out to perpetrators of this crime.

"Hacking is a criminal offence and the Metropolitan Police is targeting those who gain unauthorised access to computer systems. Courts are increasingly handing out stiffer sentences to those convicted," said detective constable Andy Cookson of the Scotland Yard Computer Crime Unit, whose members all recently joined the BCS.

Cookson said organisations had to be proactive in securing their networks. "Although Hollywood likes to glamorise hacking, and this movie would appear to be more accurate than many in its portrayal of network mapping software, it is not as simple as it appears. Effective monitoring of all applications and ensuring they are all patched to the latest version should deny easy entry."

Some forms of hacking are almost impossible to prevent but organisations can employ simple security methods, said Phil Phillips, spokesman for the BCS Information Security Specialist Group.

"Hackers seek to exploit weaknesses in systems, operational procedures and user awareness. Suppliers offer updates that can minimise many common methods, but these have to be applied correctly, tested and maintained. This can often be a difficult business challenge. Operational procedures should also be tested and maintained as business and technology evolves," he said.

"In the face of the rising tide of assaults on systems, it is essential to recognise how and where risks can occur and to address measures to prevent, detect and minimise the impact on your business and your customers.

"A regular, thoughtful review of your business risks, coupled with the adoption of simple and obvious protective measures, mean you can go home comforted by the thought that any risk of hackers has been addressed."

Charlotte Walker-Osborn, IT lawyer for the BCS Information Security Specialist Group, said, "The Computer Misuse Act has always had teeth, as was shown when a hacker was recently sentenced for two years - the strictest sentence yet. Legislation currently being debated seeks to further strengthen this law.

"In the past, there has not been a high number of prosecutions under the Computer Misuse Act and this has generally been attributed to insufficient resources for investigations and a lack of reporting. The lack of resources is currently being addressed and prosecutions in this area are becoming more common."

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