You can learn a lot about cybercrime by watching these flicks
We’ve often been asked by our readers if we know of some good cybersecurity movies. So our editors set out to compile a list.
Most of the movies we selected have a central theme around hacking. Others have a certain character or enough footage on the subject matter to be included. These movies can make a boring topic (for some) entertaining. Whatever it takes to get more people interested in combating cybercrime and the cybersecurity field, we’re all for it.
Is there a movie you know about, and we should too? We’ll be making updates on the fly until we publish the 2019 edition.
1969 — The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes — Dexter Reilly (Kurt Russell) fixes a computer during an electrical storm and gets shocked. The computer’s brain has fused with his, and he’s a genius.
1969 — The Italian Job — A robber (Michael Caine) recently released from prison gets help from a group of Britain’s most infamous computer hackers to steal gold bullion from underneath the noses of the Italian police and mafia. One of the film’s most famous scenes is a massive traffic jam caused by hacking the city’s traffic control computer.
1970 — Colossus: The Forbin Project — Massive computer systems from the U.S. — “Colossus” — and Russia — “Guardian” — connect to each other. Nuclear war is threatened.
1974 — The Conversation — Gene Hackman plays a surveillance expert using high-tech equipment (back in the day) to spy on a couple he fears may be in danger. Nominated for three Oscars.
1975 — Three Days of the Condor — CIA codebreaker Robert Redford tries to figure out why his own agency wants him dead.
1982 — Tron — One of the earliest hacking films. A computer engineer learns an executive at his company has been stealing his work and is launched into the world of virtual reality.
1983 — War Games — High school student (Matthew Broderick) hacks into a military supercomputer in this classic and activates the U.S. nuclear arsenal, at a time when most people didn’t know what hacking was.
1984 — Cloak and Dagger — When 11-year-old Davey sees the murder of an FBI agent, the dying man hands him an Atari video game cartridge with military secrets. With Dabney Coleman.
1984 — Hackers: Wizards of the Electronic Age — This documentary about the hacker community includes footage of interviews with some of the programmers that created the PC revolution, including Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. Filmed at a hacker conference held in Sausalito, Calif.
1985 — Prime Risk — Computer-savvy lovers scam Automated Teller Machines and plot to sink the Federal Reserve.
1985 — Weird Science — Teenagers Gary and Wyatt design their ideal woman on a computer, and a freak electrical accident brings her to life in the form of the lovely, superhuman Lisa.
1993 — Jurassic Park — Not a hacking movie… BUT Seinfeld’s nemesis “Newman” (Dennis Nery) plays an IT guy who hacks his way into a coup that involves him stealing dinosaur DNA to sell to the highest bidder.
1992 — Sneakers — A Hacker (Robert Redford) leads a team of experts who test the security of San Francisco companies. They discover a black box that can crack any encryption, posing a huge threat if it lands in the wrong hands… including rogue NSA agents.
1993 — Ghost in the Machine — A computer-powered MRI machine extracts a serial murderer’s soul, and becomes a deadly technological weapon.
1994 — Disclosure — A high-tech executive (Michael Douglas) unexpectedly finds himself attempting to hack into his firm’s database to defend his reputation and career and to defeat Meredith (Demi Moore). E-mails from “A Friend” direct his moves.
1995 — Hackers — A teenage hacker is back on the scene seven years after being banned from computers for writing a virus that caused the biggest stock exchange crash in history. He and his friends must prove that a sinister superhacker is framing them for a plot to embezzle funds from a large oil company with a computer worm. With Angelia Jolie.
1995 — The Net — A computer programmer (Sandra Bullock) who lives a reclusive life is looking forward to time off when she becomes aware of a conspiracy. Her vacation turns into a nightmare when someone tries to kill her and her identity is stolen. She must prove who she is while trying to figure out why someone wants her dead.
1995 — Ghost in the Shell — In this animated Japanese sci-fi epic, a cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a cybercriminal called the Puppet Master, who hacks into the brains of cyborgs to get information and use it to commit crimes. (Scarlett Johansson stars in a 2017 live-action remake.)
1995 — Johnny Mnemonic — A computer chip implanted in his brain allows a human data trafficker (Keanu Reeves) to securely store and transport data too sensitive for regular computer networks. When he gets a valuable package that exceeds the chip’s storage capacity, the mnemonic courier must deliver the data within 24 hours or die. Assassins are intent on helping him do just that.
1997 — Masterminds –The new security chief at a prestigious private school plans to even a score by kidnapping several of the wealthy students and holding them for ransom. A teenage computer hacker, expelled from the school for pulling pranks, thwarts his plans.
1998 — 23 — After an orphan invests some of his inheritance in a home computer, he begins discussing conspiracy theories inspired by a novel on bulletin boards. He’s soon hacking military and government computers with a friend. Based on a true story.
1998 — Enemy of the State — A lawyer (Will Smith) isn’t aware that a videotape in his possession proves a congressman was murdered for opposing surveillance legislation. When he becomes the target of a corrupt NSA official and his life begins to fall apart, he enlists the help of an ex-intelligence operative (Gene Hackman).
1998 — Pi — Is there a mathematical key that can unlock the universal patterns in nature? If found, can that key predict anything — even the stock market? A brilliant, obsessed, and paranoid mathematician who barricades himself in a room filled with computer equipment intends to find that key, but might go mad while doing so.
1998 — Webmaster — In this Danish sci-fi thriller, a powerful crime leader hires a hacker to monitor the security of his computer operations. When someone else hacks into the database, the webmaster must go to extremes to find him, or die within 35 hours.
1999 — Pirates of Silicon Valley — This biographical drama about the development of the personal computer and the rivalry between Apple Computer and Microsoft spans the years 1971 – 1997. Noah Wyle portrays Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall stars as Bill Gates.
1999 — Office Space —They’re supposed to be part of one big happy family, but three computer programmers hate their jobs and their boss. They concoct a scheme to embezzle small amounts of money from the high-tech company that employs them, but a mistake results in a bigger theft than planned. With Jennifer Anniston.
1999 — NetForce — In the year 2005, NetForce, a division of the FBI, is tasked with protecting the Net from terrorism. A loophole in a browser allows someone to gain control of the Internet and all the information it holds. Now the commander of NetForce must stop him, as he also tracks down a killer.
2000 — Takedown — Also known as “Track Down,” the controversial movie version of the manhunt for legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick is based on the book by Tsutomu Shimomura, “Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw – By The Man Who Did It.”
2000 — Hackers in Wonderland — This documentary on hackers in the United Kingdom and in the United States includes interviews with prominent hackers who reveal what drives them. The hackers include ColdFire, Phobos, and cyberjunkie.
2001 — Antitrust — When a college graduate (Ryan Phillippe) gets a job writing software at a multi-billion dollar computer company, he has no idea that the founder (Tim Robbins) and new mentor is hiding dark secrets. Is there anyone he can trust?
2001 — Swordfish — A spy named Gabriel (John Travolta) plots to steal a large fortune. He enlists Ginger (Halle Berry) to persuade Stanley (Hugh Jackman), who spent two years in prison for hacking an FBI program, to help. But what is Gabriel really up to, and who or what is really behind the plot?
2001 — Revolution OS — The history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements is traced in this documentary. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs.
2001 — Secret History of Hacking — The focus of this documentary is phreaking, computer hacking, and social engineering occurring from the 1970s through the 1990s. John Draper, Steve Wozniak, and Kevin Mitnick are prominently featured.
2001 — Freedom Downtime — This documentary covers the plight of convicted computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, from the standpoint that Miramax misrepresented him in the film “Takedown.” It includes the story of several computer enthusiasts who confront Miramax reps about their discontent with aspects of the script, including the film’s ending.
2001 — The Score — An aging safecracker (Robert De Niro) plans to retire, but his fence (Marlon Brando) talks him into one final score, stealing one of Canada’s natural treasures hidden in the basement of a Customs House. He joins forces with another thief (Edward Norton) who hires someone to hack into the Custom House’s security system, but things go wrong.
2002 — Minority Report — It’s 2054 and a specialized Pre-Crime police department in D.C. stops crimes before they are committed based on information from Pre-Cogs, three psychic beings who channel their visions into a computer. When they accuse the unit chief (Tom Cruise) of a future murder, he becomes a fugitive, hunted by his own department.
2002 — Storm Watch — A champion player of virtual reality games must suddenly race against time to stop a criminal mastermind who has stolen his identify from destroying the world with a weather satellite. Also known as “Code Hunter.”
2002 — Terminal Error — A former employee of a major software company gets even with the president by planting a computer virus on an MP3 and giving it to his son. His plan is to crash the computer terminals, but the virus has a mind of its own and begins to take out large portions of the city. Father and son must create their own virus to stop the chaos.
2003 — Paycheck — Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) makes good money working on top-secret projects and then agreeing to have his memory erased, until a payment of $92 million for a three-year-assignment is cancelled. With his life in danger, he must get help from a scientist (Uma Thurman) he doesn’t remember dating to figure out the importance of seemingly random items.
2003 — The Matrix Reloaded — With the help of Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and other freedom fighters, more and more humans have been freed from the Matrix and brought to Zion. But 250,000 machines are digging towards the stronghold and will reach them in 72 hours, so they must prepare for war.
2003 — In the Realm of the Hackers — This documentary reveals how and why two Australian teenager computer hackers, Electron and Phoenix, stole a restructured computer security list in the late 1980s and used it to break into some of the world’s most classified and secure computer systems.
2004 — Paranoia 1.0 — A computer programmer receives mysterious empty packages inside his apartment and tries to find out who’s sending them, why, and who he can trust. Also known as “One Point O.”
2006 — Firewall — When his family is taken hostage, a security specialist (Harrison Ford) who designs theft-proof computer systems for financial institutions must break into his own system and steal millions of dollars to pay off their ransom.
2006 — Hacking Democracy — This documentary investigates allegations of election fraud during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. It follows Bev Harris, the founder of Black Box Voting, a nonprofit consumer-protection group, and other citizen-activists who set out to uncover flaws in the voting system.
2006 — The Net 2.0 — A young computer systems analyst arrives in Istanbul to start a new job, but finds out her identity has been stolen. She must catch who did it to get her life back.
2006 — Pulse — In this remake of a Japanese horror film, a student is shocked when her boyfriend, a computer hacker, commits suicide. Then she and her friends receive online messages from him, asking for help. Another computer hacker must help her stop a supernatural plague traveling through the network.
2007 — Live Free or Die Hard — As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, a disgruntled government security agent launches an attack on America’s computer infrastructure. Veteran cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) and a young hacker must help the F.B.I.’s cyber division take him down.
2007 — Bourne Ultimatum — Operative Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) teams up with an investigative reporter to find the people who betrayed him, while a ruthless CIA official and his team continue to track him down in the hopes of assassinating him before he gets his memory back.
2007 — Breach – This docudrama is based on the events leading up to the capture of FBI Agent Robert Hanssen, convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union. A low-level surveillance expert gets promoted and assigned to work with Hanssen, unaware that he is to find proof that he is a traitor.
2008 — Untraceable — Agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane) of the Cyber Crimes Division of the FBI in Portland tries to track down a psychopathic hacker killing people online in live streaming video. As his site gets more hits, victims die faster.
2008 — Eagle Eye — Two strangers, Jerry and Rachel, come together after receiving mysterious calls from a woman they never met. She threatens their lives and family to push them into a series of dangerous situations, controlling their actions using cellphones and other technology.
2008 — Hackers are People Too — Hackers created this documentary to portray their community and break down negative stereotypes. It describes what hacking is, how hackers think, and discusses women in the field.
2008 — WarGames: The Dead Code 2008 — Is an American teen hacker playing a terrorist-attack simulator game online a real terrorist intent on destroying the United States? That’s what Homeland Security believes and they set out to apprehend him.
2009 — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo— A journalist searches for the killer of a woman who has been dead for forty years, with the help of a young female hacker. When they unravel dark family secrets, they must protect themselves. This Swedish language film was remade in English in 2011.
2009 — Gamer — Controlled by a teenage gamer’s remote device, death-row inmate Kable must battle fellow prisoners every week in a violent online game. Can he survive enough sessions to gain his freedom, free his wife from avatar slavery, and take down the game’s inventor?
2009 — Hackers Wanted — This unreleased American documentary originally named “Can You Hack It?” follows the adventures of Adrian Lamo, a famous hacker, and explores the origins of hacking and nature of hackers.
2010 — The Social Network — Jesse Eisenberg portrays Harvard student and computer genius Mark Zuckerberg in this drama about the creation of a social networking site that would become Facebook.
2010 — Inception — A thief (Leonardo DiCaprio) who can enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets begins using his gift for corporate espionage. Can he also plant an idea into someone’s mind? The film won four Oscars.
2010 — Tron Legacy — In this revamped Tron continuation, Sam (Garrett Hedlund) searches in and out of the computer world for his father, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a brilliant computer programmer.
2012 — Underground: The Julian Assange Story — This Australian film follows the early career of the WikiLeaks founder, from his start as a teenage computer hacker in Melbourne.
2012 — Skyfall — James Bond (Daniel Craig) must prove he still has what it takes as he tracks down the source of a cyber-terror attack at M16 headquarters and goes up against a genius hacker.
2012 — Code 2600 — This documentary explores the rise of the Information Technology Age through the eyes of the people who helped build it and the events that shaped it.
2012 — Genius on Hold — The downfall of Walter L. Shaw, a telecommunications genius who became destitute, and his disillusioned son, who became a notorious jewel thief, are the subjects of this documentary.
2012 — Reboot — A young female hacker can’t remember a traumatic event that leaves her with an iPhone glued to her hand. The phone’s timer is counting down to zero and fellow hackers must help her solve the puzzle.
2012 — We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists — Filmmaker Brian Knappenberger documents the hacking group Anonymous, including interviews from group members.
2013 — Disconnect — Three intersecting stories center around the impact of the Internet on people’s lives. The characters include a victim of cyberbullying, a lawyer who communicates constantly through his cell phone but can’t find time to connect with his family, and a couple whose secrets are exposed online.
2013 — Goodbye World — More than one million cellphones simultaneously receive a two-word message, followed by the collapse of the power grid and widespread panic. A group of people who find shelter in a cabin soon find out what it’s like to live in a post-apocalyptic world.
2013 — Fifth Estate — Based on real events, the film begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Daniel Domscheit-Berg join forces as underground watchdogs and create a platform for whistleblowers to leak covert data to expose government secrets and corporate crimes.
2013 — Terms and Conditions May Apply— This documentary exposes how much the Internet and cellphone usage allows corporations and governments to learn about people.
2013 — Mickey Virus — In this Bollywood hacker comedy, Delhi Police must seek the help of a lazy hacker to solve a case.
2014 — Algorithm — A computer hacker who specializes in breaking into secure systems, including the telephone company and people’s personal accounts, hacks a government contractor and discovers a mysterious computer program, thrusting him into a revolution.
2014 — Ex Machina — A young programmer wins a competition that makes him the human component in a groundbreaking experiment where he must evaluate the capabilities and consciousness of Ava, a breathtaking A.I.
2014 — The Signal — Nic, who is a student at MIT, is on a road trip with two companions when an annoying computer hacker distracts them. They track him to an abandoned shack. After strange occurrences, Nik wakes up wounded and disoriented, wondering what has happened to his friends, and who are these people in space suits?
2014 — The Imitation Game — M16, the newly created British intelligence agency, recruits mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team to crack the Germany’s Enigma code during World War II. Nominated for 8 Oscars.
2014 — The Hackers Wars — This documentary discusses hacktivism in the United States, including the government’s surveillance and persecution of hackers and journalists.
2014 — Who Am I — A subversive hacker group intent on gaining global fame invites a young German computer whiz to join them.
2014 — Open Windows — A blogger finds out he’s won a dinner with an actress he devotes his website to and is disappointed when she cancels. When he gets a chance to spy on her every move with his laptop, his life gets crazy.
2014 — Citizenfour — This documentary by Laura Poitras about whistleblower Edward Snowden and the NSA spying sandal includes interviews of Snowden in Hong Kong in 2013 and features work by journalist Glenn Greenwald.
2015 — Blackhat — Convicted hacker Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) joins a team of American and Chinese technical experts to track down a Balkan cyberterrorist operating in Southeast Asia.
2015 — Deep Web — Filmmaker Alex Winter interviews the people behind the Deep Web and bitcoin and follows the arrest and trial of Ross Ulbricht (“Dread Pirate Roberts”), founder of online black market Silk Road.
2015 — Debug — Six young hackers assigned to fix the computer system on a vessel drifting in deep space become prey to an artificial intelligence source intent on becoming human.
2015 — Hacker’s Game — A cyber-detective working for a human rights organization and a hacking expert with shady connections meet on a rooftop and bond over a game of virtual chess. Will their romance survive deception?
2016 — Nerve — Friends pressure a high school senior to join the popular online game Nerve. She becomes caught up in the thrill of the adrenaline-fueled competition, partnered with a mysterious stranger, but the game takes a sinister turn.
2016 — Snowden — Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Edward J. Snowden in Oliver Stone’s biopic of the former National Security Agency contractor who becomes disillusioned with the intelligence community and leaks classified information, becoming a fugitive from law and a hero to many.
2016 — Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee — Complex antivirus pioneer John McAfee made millions before leaving the U.S. to live in a compound in the jungle in Belize. This Showtime documentary, which he calls fiction, portrays his life in Belize and 2012 departure after a neighbor was murdered.
2016 — Zero Days — Alex Gibney’s documentary focuses on Stuxnet, or “Operation Olympic Games,” a malicious computer worm developed by the United States and Israel to sabotage a key part of Iran’s nuclear program.
2016 — Risk — Laura Poitras spent six years making this documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who gave her the opportunity to closely film him but later tried to censor the film.
2016 — I.T. — Aviation tycoon Mike Regan (Pierce Brosnan) hires an I.T. consultant on a temporary basis to do some work at his house and is so impressed he gives him a full-time job. He’s fired when he oversteps boundaries and seeks revenge against the businessman and his family.
2016 — Anonymous — A young Ukrainian immigrant turns to hacking and identity theft to support his parents, with help from a friend who is a black-market dealer. Petty crimes soon escalate. The film is also known as “Hacker.”
2017 — Ghost in the Shell — Major (Scarlett Johansson) is saved from a terrible crash and cyber-enhanced as a soldier to stop the world’s most dangerous criminals. She soon discovers that her life was actually stolen and determines to recover her past, find out who did this to her, and stop them before they do it to others.
2017 — Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web— This documentary tells the story of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, a super-hacker, entrepreneur and notorious Internet pirate accused of money laundering, racketeering, and copyright infringement.
2017 — The Circle — Mae (Emma Watson) lands a dream job at a technology and social media company called the Circle. She is soon handpicked by the founder (Tom Hanks) to participate in an experiment that takes transparency to a new level.
2018 — Anon — In a world where everyone’s lives are transparent, traceable, and recorded by the authorities, causing crime to almost cease, a detective (Clive Owen) tries to solve a series of murders that may involve a mysterious hacker (Amanda Seyfried).
Stay tuned for the 2019-20 edition, version 2.0, with more movie listings.