I watched the latest show in the “CSI” franchise last night – CSI: Cyber (on CBS) and my thoughts were “There goes the neighborhood.”

I must say that I’m not a big fan of the CSI series – way too much cutting, spinning, flashing and choppy dialogue.  I felt that I needed to watch this one because I’ve been geeking people out with my cyber speak for way too many years to discuss.

In the course of my normal work, I get to deal with the various three letter agencies, lawyers, DAs and other law enforcement types, and have had some very interesting conversations about how shows like CSI have changed the jury’s expectations of just what law enforcement was all about.

People expect that every piece of evidence will have DNA backup, that all particles and fibers will have electron microscopic comparisons with gas chromatographic analysis.

They don’t understand why you can’t run a DNA comparison in an hour because they do several during the course of a one hour TV show.  I was once told by a DA that the lack of the ability to produce these results in the timeframe portrayed on TV can make the jury hostile and, I believe in some cases, affect the outcome of the trial.

Enter CSI: Cyber. It’s not that they did anything wrong (though I find it a little hard to swallow that the obligatory, overweight, hairy, bearded hacker would be out there in his bullet proof FBI vest when they are breaking down the door to the bad guy’s lair.)

I would love to have the cool “wall of monitors.” I only have 3 on my desk.  It does annoy me a little when they have the “code” scrolling in one of the windows, since I know that there is no way that any human would be able to watch it and actually know what is going on.

What really bothers me  though is when the hacker character states, in no uncertain terms, that they “have it” – the IP address of the bad guys that he, with maybe ten keystrokes, got by back tracing the IP chain through the tor network fifteen levels.

Come on, not even the NSA could do that, and these guys work for the FBI.  I spoke with the FBI this morning – they were interested in knowing something about an IP address that they got from “somewhere.”  I asked them some simple questions about the connections and their answer was that “this was all we got from the subpoena” – one side of a two-sided conversation.  I know if I asked them to back trace this through the Tor network to figure out the origin of the traffic, I would have gotten either silence or laughter.

My problem with TV shows like this is not the entertainment value. The show was fun to watch. But next time there is a problem, the person calling me will not want to hear that there is no way to figure out who sent them that email, because they saw that hacker guy on CSI do it in ten keystrokes.

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