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Can You Program like McGee in NCIS

I was watching a NCIS rerun and started to wonder about McGee's superhuman programming skills. He sat down in front of a random computer in a suspects house, and yet again, within two to three seconds he hacked the system. This time he found an API for a GPS device that was located in the suspects car, wrote a few lines of something on the command line, and got the location of the car.

I've been programming for a while now (just as a hobby), and I can't figure out he does it, nevermind at all. Let's assume that the car GPS was connected to the internet and there really was an API from the GPS manufacturer you could use (lets also assume that there are known vulnerabilities in that API). I still think it would be hours of work for someone who knows what he's doing.

Could you do anyhing remotely like what McGee did? And how long would it take?

The operating system in this case was Windows something. You could see something like 'win32' on the screen for a second or two. Maybe he has an USB memory full of scripts written by NSA for this purpose? Maybe every device on earth is full of programmed backdoors that US agents can use?

Like I said, i'm a hobbyist programmer. I spend alot of time reading header files and documentation to get even the simplest things done. I think I know something about computing on hardware level, and have a loose grip on the linux kernel (and the 'grep' command ). I just can't think of a situation where I could hack any system like Tim does.

After rambling about this for three paragraphs now, I want to know if there are any real-life McGees out there, and how would you do implement this super-quick-fast programming in a world with a vast array of operating systems? What programming language would you use (I'm guessing Perl)?

Note for those who reply:
* NCIS producers are propably cutting corners to make good TV, please don't point that out.
* GPS manufacturers propaply have API's for their devices because they're desperate and want programmers to make apps for them.
* This scenario takes place in episode two in season five.
* Don't take this post too serously :)
* I had three beers before writing this...

Edited by DJWK

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Last Post by MrUpsetter
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  • I've been watching The Firm and I had to laugh when the hacker was trying to decrypt the hard drive and he claimed that "parts of it were coming into focus". Also the comment that a particular hacking tool could get you 90% of the way to determining an encryption … Read More

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The NCIS TV show is made for moron's to watch, purely Hollywood fantasies.
The only programming language that is smeared onto just about every computer is Java.

Edited by Lardmeister

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I enjoy NCIS. It's one of the very few programs I watch and enjoy. Parts of it are >almost< believable. Certainly, McGee's skills at hacking, pirating, computer tresspass, and breaking encryptions are not believable any more than Abby's ability to identify one-single-car from a paint chip or a piece of seat fabric.

Edited by MrUpsetter

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At movies and serials, the hacking means typing blah blah incredibly fast. If you ain't fast, you are not gonna get the job done. And its like even a single press of button outputs a string of characters. Haha. Anyone wanna feel how a movie star does hacking, just go here and start typing blah blah blah, forget not, incredibly fast. CJ

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Hackertyper - I love it!

We used a utility to annoy people several years ago (before we linked up as internet). It was called the psycho-chicken effect. It made all their typing into CaPiTaL lEtTeR sMaLl LeTtEr.

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Hackertyper - pretty cool. In a second an actor in hollywood who can not even out put "Hello World" in html is transformed into a super cool code crunching genius ;)

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I've been watching The Firm and I had to laugh when the hacker was trying to decrypt the hard drive and he claimed that "parts of it were coming into focus". Also the comment that a particular hacking tool could get you 90% of the way to determining an encryption key. That's sort of like being able to get your wife 90% pregnant.

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I too analyze what is done on that show when I watch it periodically. It's awful.
"Writers" make stuff up from other "grey|black-hat technologies" they've heard over the InterWebs, or worse, from other badly produced TV shows or movies with technically impossible scenarios.

Other shows do it too, not just NCIS.
Hugh Jackman cracking a 128bit DES login prompt with a buffer overflow in Swordfish? What, is that NT 3.51?
CSI is just as fake, one episode they culled a fingerprint from drywall. I about wet myself. Instant DNA identification?
Puh-lease.

At least the movie Sneakers was mostly do-able.

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Anyone ever notice in Castle that Beckett wears high heels, but when there is a chase scene her shoes mysteriously change to no-heels?

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Sneakers had the same; believable mixed with fantasy-land. I liked the accoustical-coupler for their modem! The one I used was 50 baud.

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