Hackers have become an inescapable part of the Hollywood narrative, on and off the screen. HBO is reeling from the worst data breach since the North Koreans hacked Sony Pictures, with the culprits demanding heavy ransom payments after putting scripts and executive emails online each day. The plot of the hot movie/TV series property, the Bill Clinton-James Patterson novel The President Is Missing that has several studios vying for movie rights, and networks like CBS looking to make a limited series is about a hacker whose cyber terrorism hobbles America and forces the president into deciding whether to kill someone to end the attack. And tomorrow marks the debut of the Audience Network’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, in which the serial killer is, you guessed it, a creepy nerd hacker.
Here’s a new wrinkle that that sounds like potboiler fiction: what if hackers releasing programming, scripts and emails from the likes of Sony, HBO and Netflix are planting malware in the computers of visitors to host sites for the purpose of starting a new chain of extortion and theft?