Lessons to be learned from John McLane

It’s a safe bet that of everyone (in a half-full theater) at a late showing of “Live Free or Die Hard” on Saturday, I wasn’t the only one wondering about the realism of a massive hack of the federal government.

That's a good thing.

The basics of the movie’s plotline are as follows. Essentially, and this is spoiler-free, a disgruntled security researcher decides to bring the federal government to its knees after the Pentagon brass refuses to implement his cybersecurity recommendations, breaching and manipulating numerous levels of federal infrastructure in a few hours.

Bruce Willis, a representation of the physical security side if there ever was one, must enlist the help of “Apple guy” Justin Long and a perfectly cast Kevin Smith to take down what can best be described as a well-funded hacker gang.

And let’s not forget the real-world side of things. Expert after expert says the networks of U.S. companies and the federal government face regular attack from attackers, many of whom have been traced back to China.

The latest “Die Hard” is essentially an old-fashioned action movie – and a good one at that – with some technology twists. But there are a few morals to the story.

For one, in a world where car bombs are the weapon of choice, it’s not a bad idea to make sure physical and information security teams are working in tandem.

Two, information security threats are pressing enough, at least to Hollywood, to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their appeal to a broad audience. And if “Live Free or Die Hard” - or “Firewall” or “Breach” - makes the public more aware of information security, then we should be all for it, even if some details get lost in the screenplay.

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