For many people, documentaries become the latest passion to indulge in and a source to boost self-improvement. However, there are many must-watch cyber security documentaries. Documentary films not only introduce you to new topics but also give you new things to talk about with your friends or others. Before going any further, we must note that this blog post doesn’t give out spoilers about the films mentioned. Below is a list of the 5 best cyber security documentaries you have to watch in 2021.
Table of Contents
1. The Great Hack (2019)
This documentary film is about the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica, a London-based political consulting firm that did work for the Trump campaign that harvested and used the personal data of nearly 50 million Facebook users without user consent. The firm specializes in psychographic profiling, which is a qualitative methodology of studying users based on psychological characteristics and then impacting voter behavior via targeted advertising.
On March 17, the New York Times reported breaking news involving Facebook, the Trump campaign, and Cambridge Analytica. It has been stated that Cambridge Analytica had obtained access to the data of nearly 50 million Facebook users and misused that data for political influence during the presidential election in 2016.
This scandal has given a rise to a number of questions about the implications of marketing influence in a contemporary world. On the other hand, it has raised concerns about the privacy and security of Facebook data due to the fact that the data has been widely misused, resulting in people asking whether or not Facebook is a safe place to be.
Although Facebook is operating in a highly regulated industry, this scandal can be seen as the biggest crisis it has faced so far. Watch this documentary on Netflix.
2. Risk (2016)
Risk is Laura Poitras’s documentary film about state surveillance. Laura Poitras is an American filmmaker and producer of documentary films. She has received several awards for her work, including the 2015 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. She first unveiled the film at Cannes in 2016 and critics admired it.
The film was made with an unprecedented level of access to Julian Assange, co-founder of Wikileaks. Wikileaks was established in 2006 to acquire and disseminate confidential files and data sets from anonymous sources and leakers. One of the biggest leaks of Wikileaks is the release of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military documents as well as video footage from the Afghan wars. Besides that, Wikileaks had published thousands of hacked emails from the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign boss John Podesta.
Film director Laura Poitras began filming Julian Assange starting from the year 2011, after some of Wikileaks’ most scandalous releases. The film was shot over 6 years, and the film covers the events during the period when Assange was under house arrest in England between the years of 2010 and 2012. He was then forced to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Those events included the release of numerous document sets by WikiLeaks.
In fact, Risk is an intriguing documentary film. However, it discusses many subjects and avoids treating any of them in-depth, and therefore, failed to take a strong position of any kind. Watch this documentary on Netflix.
3. Zero Days (2016)
This documentary film is written and directed by Alex Gibney. He has been recognized as “the most important documentarian of our time” by Esquire Magazine. The filmmaker has won the Academy Award, multiple Emmy Awards, the Grammy Award, and many more.
The film puts audiences in contact with a threatening virus penetrating the world. The computer malware in question is cyber warfare. In 2010, a virus that was dubbed Stuxnet started to infiltrate Iranian computers connected to their nuclear reactor program.
This well-constructed virus was theorized to have been established by the U.S. and its ally Israel. So, the Iranian government called it an intentional act of sabotage. However, no one has ever affirmed anything regarding the origin of the virus. The director claimed that cyber attacks are the next big thing in war.
The documentary is well-researched and densely informative. Stuxnet is too perfect and untraceable to be the work of anything less strong than a national government. It left few clues behind and invited deniability. This fact still raises a question: who designed Stuxnet and why?
4. Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013)
This documentary film concerns the use as well as sale of private citizens’ information by third parties on Internet behemoths like Google and Facebook. The film is directed by Cullen Hoback, an award-winning investigative filmmaker. He tries to investigate what governments and corporations are doing with your personal data.
As you watch this film, you’ll notice that things get more serious with summaries of social media privacy concerns. Much of this ground is well-covered, but viewers may be surprised by some small piece of information like deleting information on Facebook actually means you’re hiding that information from yourself. In other words, the information is going to be still on the company’s servers, and nobody knows for how long.
“If you were to read everything you agreed to, it would take one full month of work out of every year. That’s 180 hours you would need to spend every year” said Cullen Hoback. The film is concise and thoroughly engaging.
5. Hacking Democracy (2006)
That is a documentary film about the flawed American election system and directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels. This film is the culmination of three years of work by the mentioned filmmakers and is indeed a real-life detective story.
Electronic voting machines account for nearly 87% of the votes cast in America today. But are they reliable? This documentary tried to critically investigate the gaping holes in the security of America’s electronic voting system. So, the critical question asked by the directors is as follows: “is it possible to hack the software in order to modify the results of the vote?”. You may visit Hacking Democracy’s website for more information about the film.
Final words about cyber security documentaries
As long as you stay curious, there are millions of possibilities for learning something new. Watching a documentary on cyber security is only one way to expand your knowledge. Are you in search of more exciting content? Read our 5 Benefits of Cyber Security Training for Employees in 2022 and How to Prevent Business Email Compromise Attack articles.