Television shows have served as a respite to real life since TV was first invented. In my own life, analyzing episodes of “Lost” on a newborn online community kept me company during the very real demands of an actual newborn while I was on maternity leave. What is perplexing about “Mr. Robot,” however, is how it freakishly mirrors real life while also providing the escapist elements that make for good television.

Connected Building Hacks Get Real

With the season-two premiere of Mr. Robot looming, fans are waiting to see if the second season can possibly match the intricacy and engagement of the first.

I’ve found that our friendly water cooler-based debates don’t center around the feasibility of the hacks so much as the fashion choices on the show. That’s because there’s zero debate on the authentic representation of the hacks on the show, compared to a lively discussion on whether hackers in hoodies are passé.


In real life*, the IBM X-Force research team has done its fair share of vulnerability and penetration testing. One notable example was the ethical hack of a connected building, which successfully took advantage of a building automation system to control the environment. Not only did it affect temperature control systems, but it also connected to the central server and extended control to several other geographically disperse buildings.

The hack was ultimately possible through a mix of policy settings on routers, lack of encryption on files containing passwords, duplicate passwords across systems and internal systems connected directly to the internet. It is suspected the X-Force researchers did not wear hoodies while conducting the ethical hack, but these reports are unconfirmed.


If you search the archives for Internet of Things (IoT), you’ll find a treasure trove of warnings and advice for developers. With phrases like “too big to protect” or “double-edged sword” often used when discussing IoT, it’s no wonder there are so many articles about it.

With the new season of “Mr. Robot” taking place after the infamous Evil Corp hack, I’m curious how prominent IoT may be in the story. The series’ technical consultant Kor Adana alluded to a possible inclusion in a recent interview, leaving me to fervently hope that the dramatic tension gets ratcheted up when Evil Corp’s break-room refrigerator gets hacked and the fsociety gang adds insult to injury by revealing exactly how many flavored creamers the conglomerate consumes each month.

To learn more about an actual connected building hack, view the replay of the live session with IBM X-Force.

More from Threat Intelligence

An IBM Hacker Breaks Down High-Profile Attacks

On September 19, 2022, an 18-year-old cyberattacker known as "teapotuberhacker" (aka TeaPot) allegedly breached the Slack messages of game developer Rockstar Games. Using this access, they pilfered over 90 videos of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI game. They then posted those videos on the fan website Gamers got an unsanctioned sneak peek of game footage, characters, plot points and other critical details. It was a game developer's worst nightmare. In addition, the malicious actor claimed responsibility for a…

Self-Checkout This Discord C2

This post was made possible through the contributions of James Kainth, Joseph Lozowski, and Philip Pedersen. In November 2022, during an incident investigation involving a self-checkout point-of-sale (POS) system in Europe, IBM Security X-Force identified a novel technique employed by an attacker to introduce a command and control (C2) channel built upon Discord channel messages. Discord is a chat, voice, and video service enabling users to join and create communities associated with their interests. While Discord and its related software…

Charles Henderson’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month Content Roundup

In some parts of the world during October, we have Halloween, which conjures the specter of imagined monsters lurking in the dark. Simultaneously, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which evokes the specter of threats lurking behind our screens. Bombarded with horror stories about data breaches, ransomware, and malware, everyone’s suddenly in the latest cybersecurity trends and data, and the intricacies of their organization’s incident response plan. What does all this fear and uncertainty stem from? It’s the unknowns. Who might…

Old Habits Die Hard: New Report Finds Businesses Still Introducing Security Risk into Cloud Environments

While cloud computing and its many forms (private, public, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments) have become ubiquitous with innovation and growth over the past decade, cybercriminals have closely watched the migration and introduced innovations of their own to exploit the platforms. Most of these exploits are based on poor configurations and human error. New IBM Security X-Force data reveals that many cloud-adopting businesses are falling behind on basic security best practices, introducing more risk to their organizations. Shedding light on…