Imagine a scene in the investigation TV show whereby you are searching through the Naval Criminal Investigative Service database and suddenly a red alert keep on flashes on your screen “INTRUSION DETECTED”. You know that you are hacked and the next thing that you do is to call your partner, hoping that your partner will help you solve the issue. However, even though your partner has done everything he normally do to stop the hacking but this time it does not work. And then suddenly the screen went blank and your boss saves the day by pulling the power plug of your station.
The above scene is normally seen in the entertainment industry but it is far-fetched from what is actually happen in the real life. Ubisoft understands this and for its next cross-platform game release, Watch Dogs, the company will do whatever it can to ensure that the storyline of its game world to be as close as possible to what is happening in the actual world. Ubisoft is the company behind “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and Price of Persia: The Sands of Time.
The storyline of Watchdogs will be revolve around Aiden Pearce as he controls a Chicago runs by a CenTral Operating System (CTOS) by only using his smartphone. Aiden Pearce is a mega-hacker. The CTOS controls everything starting from the simulated Windy City’s traffic lights, the ubiquitous surveillance camera, to the drawbridges that cross the Chicago River. It is all fiction, the storyline taking place in the near-future and in a connected urban life. Ubisoft is making it to be as real as possible.
The reason behind this is as simple as to be relevant to the real life hacking scenario, in order to give a more positive and accurate view of hacking and hackers. The hacking and hackers culture is already has a negative impression to the public.
To make the storyline as accurate as possible, Ubisoft tapped cybersecurity experts at Russia-based Kespersky Labs. therefore, the largest security firms will have to read the scripts, play early version of the game and point out any inaccuracies in the game during the development phase of the game.
Kapersky has released a report on “Red Ocotber” in January 2013 whereby it was an incident that infected computers in 43 countries, encrypted data stolen from government agencies, military contractors and nuclear research facilities. Soon after that, a number of private-sector companies has requested them to do additional investigation on the attacks to check whether they have been targeted or not.
Prior to the game development, the studio had spent three years in researching on cybersecurity and hacking. The information is readily found online, but they want to ensure that there is no missing detail along the way, that is where Kapersky skill comes in. Fortunately this research effort has been paid off. Kapersky has found minor adjustment to the script and technical aspect of the game.
For example, in the scene when Pearce has to steal sizable database copy and copy a hard drive from a protected data centre, on the script Pearce had to log in by trying all possible combination of the password and then transferring the data to network drive. This can only work in the movies, but in the real life, a hacker would have rebooted the server via hard reset, boot a custom operating system from external drive and start copying an image of the hard drive.