Hey, I don't believe that any system is totally secure.
March 2, 2016 8:29 PM   Subscribe

How a chance viewing of Wargames by President Reagan led to America's first policies on cyberwarfare.
posted by Chrysostom (18 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now we need to produce a movie that suggests government-paid "Free Waffle Fridays" are a national security imperative. And we need to get it in front of the President. Let's go, team.
posted by duffell at 8:35 PM on March 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Reagan was also heavily influenced by a viewing of "The Day After."
posted by Chrysostom at 8:46 PM on March 2, 2016


Reagan's likeness appeared in WarGames as a sort of mordant visual joke. The world's going to hell but the Gipper ain't worried!

How weird it would be to watch a movie and - surprise! - see yourself. In that way, especially. It was quick, though. Maybe he missed it. Maybe presidents and movie stars are used to such things.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


A not-very-chance viewing of WarGames also led a high school friend of mine to start wardialing and attempting to hack a local X.25 DATAPAC node, which in retrospect was kind of pointless.
posted by GuyZero at 9:43 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe presidents and movie stars are used to such things.

On the other hand:
When Ronald Reagan first watched Back to the Future at the movie theater in the White House, he reportedly was so amused that Emmett Brown could not believe an actor like him could become president, he had the projectionist stop and rewind the film to replay the scene.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:11 PM on March 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Reagan also started preparing for he and Nancy to lead a post-apocalyptic life as robotic sex performers after viewing Cafe Flesh.
posted by item at 10:39 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Many of the obvious problems with our current reality can be directly traced back to Reagan having watched Videodrome in 1983.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:37 PM on March 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ronald Reagan secretly spent his entire second term living in the top floor of the Sands in Vegas, refusing to cut his toenails or to touch doorknobs unless buffered by kleenex, obsessively watching and rewatching Ice Station Zebra after a reel-delivery mixup led to a double-feature screening of El Topo and Holy Mountain instead of Top Gun and Hellcats of the Navy.
posted by mwhybark at 12:22 AM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Reagan was also heavily influenced by a viewing of "The Day After."

Pretty much everyone was affected by watching The Day After when it ran on television. One of my most clear childhood media memories was watching that movie, and it was horrifying and traumatic for me to see as a teenager. In 1983, the US had a population of ~233million, and something like around 100million watched that movie, together, as a country, all on the same night. Even if you didn't watch it, basically everyone else you talked to that week did watch it, or could talk about it even if they hadn't seen it. It entirely saturated the period of time after it was aired, and it changed a lot of things in the culture. I don't remember having a single "duck and cover" drill at school after 1983, and I certainly did plenty of them all through grade school and junior high.
posted by hippybear at 12:48 AM on March 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't describe it as a "chance" viewing, given Ron & Nancy's well documented love of watching movies.
posted by fairmettle at 2:52 AM on March 3, 2016


‘WarGames’ and Cybersecurity’s Debt to a Hollywood Hack

I'm not sure it's a debt - roughly the inverse, perhaps.
posted by iffthen at 2:54 AM on March 3, 2016


In 1983, the US had a population of ~233million, and something like around 100million watched that movie, together, as a country, all on the same night.

I vaguely remember something called a mass simultaneous TV viewing in the early 00s. Wow, times really have changed.
posted by yueliang at 2:59 AM on March 3, 2016


I'm tempted to say something at this point about the influence of Alzheimer's on 30 years of cybersecurity policy. Take this article with a very large grain of salt: there were definitely vulnerabilities to wardialing for a long time, but by quoting a general saying “Mr. president,” he said, “the problem is much worse than you think.”, the article creates the impression that a nuke launch because of hacking was likely, whereas history has shown that simple miscommunication is and was a far likelier culprit. (No cites, I'm tired and grumpy, GIYF.)

More grumbles:

he knew that the N.S.A. had long been hacking into the communications systems of the Soviet Union and China — and what we were doing to them, they could someday do to us.

*were already doing to us
posted by iffthen at 3:21 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


This article parallels (and doesn't cite) a published book by professor Stephanie Ricker Schulte at the University of Arkansas, as Meryl Alper has pointed out in a recent blog post. Controversy ensues.
posted by honest knave at 3:54 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


A couple of places I worked in the 80's used Defender to control access to mainframes via dial-up.
posted by MtDewd at 6:44 AM on March 3, 2016


hippybear: "Pretty much everyone was affected by watching The Day After when it ran on television. "

Well, yeah, I was too, but I was 10 years old. Reagan was president.

His viewing of the movie has been identified as a key event that convinced him that a nuclear war was not winnable and that we needed to pursue serious arms limitation agreements with the Soviets.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:52 AM on March 3, 2016


on the one hand: that's crazy. it's crazy that he didn't know that nuclear war was bad until he saw a movie about it.

but on the other hand: a fictional representation of nuclear war saved the world, maybe.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:51 AM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


And some guy got to tell his mom, "What did I get with my film degree? I saved the world, mom, that's what I got."
posted by corb at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


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