In one of the Matrix movies they hack a power station using NMAP and an SSH exploit.....
A scene about two thirds of the way through the film finds Carrie-Anne Moss's leather-clad superhacker setting her sights on a power grid computer, for plot reasons better left unrevealed.
But at exactly the point where audiences would normally be treated to a brightly-colored graphical cartoon of a computer intrusion, ala the 2001 Travolta vehicle Swordfish, or cheer as the protagonist skillfully summons a Web browser and fights valiantly through "404 Errors," like the malnourished cyberpunk in this year's "The Core," something completely different happens: Trinity runs "Nmap."
Probably the most widely-used freeware hacking tool, the real-life Nmap is a sophisticated port scanner that sends packets to a machine -- or a network of machines -- in an attempt to determine what services are running. An Nmap port scan is a common prelude to an intrusion attempt -- a way of casing the joint, to find out if any vulnerable service are running.
That's exactly how the fictional Trinity uses it. In a sequence that flashes on screen for a few scant seconds, the green phosphor text of Trinity's computer clearly shows Nmap being run against the IP address 10.2.2.2, and finding an open port number 22, correctly identified as the SSH service used to log into computers remotely.
"I was definitely pretty excited when I saw it," says "Fyodor," the 25-year-old author of Nmap. "I think compared to previous movies that had any kind of hacking content, you could generally assume it's going to be some kind of stupid 3D graphics show."
But the unexpected nod to hackerdom doesn't end there. Responding to the Nmap output , Trinity summons a program called "sshnuke" which begins "[a]ttempting to exploit SSHv1 CRC32."
Discovered in February, 2001 by security analyst Michal Zalewski, the SSH CRC-32 bug is a very real buffer overflow in a chunk of code designed to guard against cryptographic attacks on SSH version one. Properly exploited, it grants full remote access to the vulnerable machine.
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