Jun 10, 2020

Due to the surge of dummy Facebook accounts recently, cybersecurity and data privacy saw increased interest from the public—who had also taken to measures to secure their online profiles. Along with reporting fake accounts, some resorted to making their accounts private to prevent their personal information from spreading, while some took down their photos and changed their social media names.  

Questions on who controls the internet and how an individual’s information is used, stored and secured also rose amid the situation. In fact, these questions have been so widespread that it has become the subject of many films and documentaries which are now (ironically) available for streaming online. Here are seven films that you can begin watching to gain insight about cybersecurity.

“Enemy of the State” (1998)

This action-packed Will Smith and Gene Hackman-starrer is a classic example of movies tackling cybersecurity and data breach in relation to the government. Although accidentally running across a videotape that serves as crucial evidence to an assassination case and being chased down by abusive National Security Agents isn’t something that can happen to anyone, it portrays a concern many of us have—our digital footprint under intense government surveillance.

Where you can watch: YouTube Movies, Google Play Movies, Amazon Prime

“Hacking Democracy” (2006)

This Emmy-nominated documentary took about three years to film, featuring eye-opening coverage of citizen-led investigations on electronic election anomalies in the United States. Exposing the electronic voting system’s vulnerability, a nonprofit election watchdog group tests the ways of tampering and altering results on electronic voting machines—making you question how technology can affect our democracy. 

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime

“We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” (2012)

Those who are interested in the deep dark web—and conspiracy theories—may have heard of Anonymous, the decentralized international group of hackers known for their attacks against government and corporate institutions. This has led to their reputation as leading hacktivists (hacker activists) who randomly appear when they perceive threats to the cyber freedom or data privacy of regular citizens. “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” introduces their operations, history, beliefs and motivations behind some of their movements.  Fun fact: Anonymous was reported to have resurfaced recently to help seek retribution for George Floyd’s death.

Where you can watch: iTunes

“Terms and Conditions May Apply” (2013)

Let’s be honest: You don’t really read all the terms and conditions on a website before clicking “I agree,” do you? This documentary by award-winning investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback uses this as a starting point in tackling anonymity—or lack thereof—in the Internet. You may not have realized how agreeing to the terms and conditions of a website basically equates to handing your information to them on a silver platter. Let corporate bigwigs like Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg—who are featured in the film—change your mind.

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime

“Killswitch” (2014)

“The Internet is under attack. Free speech, innovation and democracy are all up for grabs.” That is the tagline of this documentary film. Drawing a call-to-action for viewers to fight for their internet freedom, the film follows the story of young hacktivists Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden. 

Swartz is Reddit’s co-founder who was also indicted with criminal charges for breaking into digital library JSTOR’s subscription database with the aim of making academic journals free for all. Meanwhile, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden is a name controversial for leaking highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013.

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime

“Snowden” (2016)

As mentioned, Snowden is known for disclosing numerous global surveillance programs ran by the NSA in cooperation with entities such as telecommunication companies and European governments. This sparked a global discussion about national security and personal privacy. It was also the inspiration for the 2017 Cinema for Peace Award for Justice-winning biographical thriller movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the CIA whistleblower.

Where you can watch: Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies

“The Great Hack” (2019)

In 2018, social media was shaken after a data breach scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, who gathered personal data from millions of the social networking site’s users to use for political advertising. Aside from sparking the online movement #DeleteFacebook, this incident was also tackled by the documentary produced and directed by Academy Award-nominated personalities Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer. “The Great Hack” exposed the data mining work of the United Kingdom-based firm Cambridge Analytica not just in the United States, but also in its homeland and other countries. 

Where you can watch: Netflix


Header photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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TAGS: cybersecurity cybersecurity movies data breach data privacy data privacy movies Facebook facebook movies hackers