From Golden Eye to the Golden Gun, Bond has faced some truly out of this world weaponry but in his latest outing, Skyfall, England’s most famous spy is pitted against a real and present danger grounded in the modern world – cyberterrorism. Here, Kevin Haley, Norton’s Director of Security Technology and Response, explains how Skyfall sees Bond battle an authentic global threat.
1. The villain’s lair
Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem) launches his cyber-attacks from a deserted island in the Far East, surrounded by rows of computers and servers with just a few henchmen. It’s a scene that bears some truth in reality, says Kevin. “Cybercriminals are known to base some of their operations out of less developed countries that are more lax on policing online security. With their servers protected by “bullet-proof” hosting in these countries, the attackers are free to operate from anywhere in the world.”
2. The new tech authority
32 year-old Ben Whishaw becomes the new tech boffin “Q” in Skyfall, just weeks after the British government launched its search for the next generation of cyber spies. “It’s a brave new world for national security where many of the new players are barely out of their teen years. Casting a young programmer as the new Q reflects the sorts of characters we may now find on the frontline of cyber wars,” Kevin says.
3. Infiltrating infrastructure
Cyberterrorist Raoul Silva boasts to Bond of his abilities to control and disrupt national infrastructure at the push of button. “Not quite the push of a button,” Kevin says. “Although computer worms like Stuxnet have already demonstrated their power to disrupt on an industrial scale. In 2010, hackers got into an Iranian uranium enrichment facility and were able to cause it to malfunction. They programmed the cylinders within the facility to spin so fast that they cracked and broke. This case of cybersabotage will have taken months or maybe years to implement.”
4. Money, money, money
Skyfall’s villain has access to some impressive resources including helicopters, millions of dollars and well-armed henchmen – all of which can be funded through the type of low-scale fraud employed by hackers across the world. “Unfortunately hacking can be very profitable,” Kevin says. “Take mobile malware for example. Fraudsters make money by creating trojan mobile apps that on the surface seem like harmless games or tools but once downloaded, they secretly send premium SMS messages. The victim only discovers the trojan app when they’re handed a hefty mobile bill at the end of the month.”