Things that are and are not fiction

--Originally published at (Not so) Random talk

Okay, I think I should start by saying that this post on whole is my opinions about the movie NERVE and that it contains some huge spoilers of the film, so I must warn you if you haven’t seen it and wish to do so, close this post or tab right now. If you just don’t care or have already watched, be my guest, relax, scroll over and maybe eat those leftover popcorn.

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Now, let’s remember a little bit what the movie is about:

“A high-school wallflower named Vee (Emma Roberts) decides to participate in an online game that involves completing challenges and dares throughout New York City. Although she is initially thrilled by the game’s antics — and the fact that it asks her to partner with a handsome stranger (Dave Franco) for some of the tasks — the experience eventually escalates into a life-or-death struggle.” –

Before going into why being a computer science student might have dispelled a little bit of movie fiction for me in this film, there is one thing I want to talk about something first: most of the times computing security starts with you making a “may not seem like it is but is” bad choice (yup, #TC2027 is involved in this post too :P), just in the same way as you can put in danger your life. This movie can be a clear example about both the physical and the computer aspects, but let’s focus on the later:

  1.  The first time Vee sees the web page of nerve she says it’s “sketchy” and even asks her friend if it’s legal, to which her friend responds that it’s probably not.
  2.  Later a friend says that taking personal information from players is “a thing
    just do”.
  3. “Snitches get stitches”. Hmm.. that already sounds bad enough…
  4. She never gets asked for permission to look into any of her social media accounts or even bank account.
  5. Wait, asking for my fingerprint to register/login? What kind of app needs such a personal information from me?

And with all this Vee still ends up singing in and playing.

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Plus, if a friend who knows about IT stuff tells you it’s not good nor safe, you should probably listen to him. Second plus, if you receive money without having explicitly registered and given permission to your account, it should already raise an alarm. ( .-. )

I would actually like to add this to the why being a IT (ISC) student made the movie less believable for me, but then you think about it and realize that there would probably be people that would fall into this traps. So, instead, I’ll add it to reasons to study computing security: so that you won’t make bad choices when online.

Some things to add to #TC2027 from this movie:

  • I don’t think an actual hacker would call herself “HackerQueen”.
  • Wouldn’t a bank have countermeasures against attacks like when the whole money is taken (if not, they should really change bank ASAP)?
  • This is a supposition, but I think that what they do of taking down the game and returning the account money could be a way of ethical hacking, but we’ll have to wait and see on a future post.

Finally, let’s go to the points that have to be with my bachelor that weren’t real, shall we? By the way, here starts the real spoilers.

– After snitching, Vee seems to prepare a counter attack to save Ian and herself. For this, she tells Tommy, her “nerd” friend, to modify the game code, which he seems to be able to do so since it’s open source. He easily finds it and modifies it. And suddenly all of the watchers are using that version of the code.
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My first issue with this is: the creators use this code to do bad stuff like identity theft, why would they even make it open source? Wouldn’t that make it easier for others to blame them of bad things happening? Also, didn’t they think that someone could modify their code to backfire at them? Secondly, I didn’t, in any moment realized that Tommy pushed his code modification and having users to download the newest version or something. How then are they using that newest version? Also, was the code written in a very simple way or how come you could read it and understand it enough so that you could be able to modify it so quickly?

– Okay, you say that this “app” or thing makes your phone a server so that the game can’t be stopped or something. But, there must be a place where they store all the stolen data, right?

I don’t think it is stored in all the users phones. So at the end, aren’t they leaving a huge plot hole that the bad guys still have their personal info?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually kinda liked this movie. But the ending did left me a bit dissatisfied. Like, it felt that the only bad people where the watchers that voted the dares, when you have something equally big with all that attack on the confidentiality of the users, and we never get to see this people get punished or something for it (except having it’s game “shut down” but not really ‘cause it would only take some people to start playing it again just because they want to for it to start again, in my opinion). And also, t was all fixed kinda too easily. As if they said “ok  I think this is getting out of hands, how do we fix it? Oh I know! Hackers! Hackers save the world quick and easy”. As someone learning about this, it didn’t seem too believable, and they also made it look like everything got solved too easily.

But in the end, we must learn to enjoy things as what they really are: a work of fiction, which by the own world won’t stick to reality. So I guess one day I’ll make a fresh batch of microwave popcorn and watch this movie taking previous judgment out of my mind. Also, in the end I kinda looked at it more like a love story thing with drama, so I should stick with that. :3

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