None of us are safe! The last major computer attacks have shown that the cybersecurity segment is one of the most interesting professionally, but how to begin to know this complex world?
The answer could be something much more fun than we might think, because there are several games that try to serve as an introduction to the world of hacking and cybersecurity. There are more and less ambitious, but they all offer fun and learning equally. Who knows? You could end up becoming a real hacker playing …
Watch Dogs 1 & 2
Although the majority of videogames in this segment are developed by small studios or independent developers, there is also room for some large productions.
We have two clear examples in ‘Watch Dogs’ and ‘Watch Dogs 2’, in which the action game with shootings and various persecutions joins the puzzle game in which we will have to solve certain hacking challenges to overcome these tests.
The result is certainly remarkable, and allows you to enjoy these games both for that more traditional section of the games in the first person and for that other element that will allow us to familiarize ourselves with commonly used hacking techniques. More fun than educational, no doubt, but what does it matter?
Dark Signs Hacker
In ‘Dark Signs Hacker’ we find an online multiplayer game that confronts other fans of these games and does so by introducing us into a virtual internet “created and sustained by its players”.
In it we find a unique programming language with which we can program our own tools (hacking scripts, scanners) to interact with that environment.
The game tries to simulate that real internet in which we are affected by these attacks and allows us to launch our own domain name to store in it files that can be seen by other players. We can buy and sell tools in the store integrated in the game, access servers as superuser, break passwords or overcome firewalls. Everything, come on.
The company Exosyphen has been working since 2002 in games related to hacking. His series ‘Hacking Evolution’ is well known among fans of these games, and will soon have available ‘Hacker Evolution Inmersion’, his latest production in this segment.
In this series of games available on Steam we will have to interact with a command console to solve tasks that will lead us to infiltrate systems, find exploits or steal money to improve our own hardware.
As in other games of this type, the puzzles that are presented to us must be solved with commands and techniques that resemble (or are the same) to those used in operating systems and real systems.
One of the most veteran videogames in this area is ‘ Street Hacker ‘, a hacking simulator that places us before a system similar to the one we would encounter when operating a Linux console.
In the game we become a hacker hired by an entrepreneur who gives us clandestine tasks and who ends up betraying us. When we leave prison, the objective, of course, is to hack this entrepreneur.
The game focuses on cyber-attacks such as those that try to install malware on target systems, and we will use familiar commands in this type of task (whois, connect) to get to know a little more the basic mechanics of this type of attacks.
If you are interested in the world of cryptography, there is a good option also in this regard. This is ‘ CryptoClub ‘, a game that will help us understand how all this unique technology works.
It will do so through a very educational environment in which we will understand how the systems with which we encrypt the information work (substitution, addition, keywords, letters by numbers, etc.), or how those ‘crack’ those encrypted codes work.
The game, available online, even has material for teachers to investigate the subject and then educate their students in this area. Without a doubt a curious resource to learn cryptography.
else Heart.Break ()
Only the title of this video game arouses curiosity, right? In ‘else Heart.Break ()’ we find an approach in which after an introduction that seems far from the hacker world we end up finding hacktivists (and a girl) who fight against the so-called ‘IT Minister’.
From there we get a ‘modifier’, a device that allows us to hack all kinds of objects in the game. From there we can analyze the code of those objects to hack them, we will meet people who teach us how to do it (in a language called SPRAK), and we will end up taking advantage of that knowledge to survive and progress in the game.
The original game places us in a world in which we can explore the effects of modifying all kinds of systems that affect all types of people and workers, and although it is probably more fun (and original) than educational, it is worth taking a look.
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Among the most interesting when using Linux commands that are traditionally used is ‘Hacknet’, a video game in which we join an elite team of hackers to try to gain access to confidential data.
Although we have a graphical interface also, a good part of the interaction is done through a command console from which we will have to scan the system that we want to attack to find vulnerabilities that later explode.
The approach to real hacking is very successful for this and other features, and in fact its developers launched in 2016 an expansion called ‘Hacknet Labyrinths’ that along the same line added more missions to extend the duration of another of the essential games in this list . Both the original game and its various accessories can be found for example on Steam.
It is probably (with the permission of the mythical ‘ Core War ‘) one of the oldest videogames in this segment: ‘ Uplink ‘, developed by the British company Introversion Software, was launched for the first time in 2001. Today it has versions for Android and iOS devices.
The idea of the game is to become a hacker who must complete tasks such as accessing computer systems, stealing data from research departments, sabotaging other companies or laundering money.
The money we get can be used to improve our own computer systems and to buy new tools and software, and we will have to avoid being caught using techniques such as the use of multiple IP addresses in our attacks. A classic in this world, without a doubt.
The people in charge of Blendo Games have a very curious game in this area. This is ‘Quadrilateral Cowboy’, a game in the first person that has robberies and robberies based on hacking techniques.
As usual in other games in this field, it is not necessary to have programming knowledge. In the game we are a team of thieves but above all we will control the hacker, who will have to solve puzzles in different levels through commands that will be introduced in his “deck”.
That deck is nothing more than a computer integrated into a suitcase that has a 56k modem that we will be carrying from one side to the other. The commands are simple and allow access to our objectives, deactivate cameras and alarms, get what we wanted and, of course, escape successfully. The game also offers its source code so that anyone can download it, study it and modify it under the GPL license.
Shenzhen I / O
Zachtronics, the company responsible for other games in this segment such as ‘TIS-100’, have also created a game more oriented to explore the mysteries of electronics with ‘ Shenzhen I / O ‘. There is another similar title in that leading role in electronics called ‘Silicon Zeroes’.
In the game, we take on the role of an expatriate who lives in industrial China and works for an electronics company called Longtem. Mail messages will arrive with tasks to perform that can be from the most normal in the world to other more clandestine.
There is a manual (should be printed) that will help us to progress to solve those puzzles and achieve circuits with more efficient designs every time, which makes this game in a kind of an extension of the aforementioned ‘TIS-100’. There is a third option if you like the games of this company, the relatively recent ‘Opus Magnum’.
The goal of ‘Duskers’ is to take control of drones flying in giant spacecraft to survive and discover what happened to a universe that became “a gigantic cemetery.”
The inspiration of the game, admit its creator, comes from movies like ‘The Road’ and ‘Aliens’, and unlike what we might think seeing some screenshots the game control is not with mouse and keyboard or with a game controller, but to hit command console.
The user interface actually resembles that of the Nostromo ship of ‘Aliens’, and through it we will have to type commands to move our drone to collect energy **, open doors or escape from alien threats ** that we can eject from the ship activating certain locks. We can even create our own commands combined with the “alias” command that is traditionally used in Linux and UNIX systems, for example.
It is undoubtedly the best known of the entire list, and may indeed ‘Minecraft’ is more a game of another gender than one directly focused on hacking or cybersecurity, but their options are so many that it can also be a good proposal in this ambit.
In fact we have seen how through Minecraft users have managed to create text processors , 16-bit computers within the game, printed circuits with their own RAM capable of splitting, programming in BASIC or even hard drives to safeguard their data.
All these examples make Minecraft can also serve to learn by playing how computer systems work that are precisely the target of these cyber-attacks. That alone is worth taking a look at this game that has long offered options in the field of entertainment and education.
In ‘Hackmud’ we find a hacking simulator in text mode that challenges us with various puzzles and that makes us a kind of artificial intelligence bot in the not too distant future.
In that world these bots try to compete for a virtual currency called GC, and for that we will compete with other hackers who will also try to get into our account and steal all our virtual money.
A developer named Tom Francis spent three years working on weekends to bring to the market Gunpoint, a game with a unique design in which our protagonist has to gain access to buildings protected by guards to steal data for their customers.
To achieve this we have Crosslink, a device that allows us to manipulate the wiring of each level, and thanks to it we can redesign those circuits to cause electroshocks to the guards, modify the behavior of the elevators and even control the automatic weapons installed in the building.
The game is not so ambitious in this area of hacking as it even combines that more “technical” part with another action and adventures (we can stamp a guard against a door, for example), but it is a fun and original approach for this type of video games.
The creators of TIS-100 define it as a programming game in which “you rewrite corrupt code segments to repair the TIS-100 computer and reveal its secrets”.
The idea of this puzzle game is unique and makes use of an assembly programming language to challenge the player to minimize the number of cycles and instructions used in those small programs.
In the game we find that old computer that used to use an uncle of ours. We even have to use an old user manual annotated by that fictitious character -which they recommend us to print- to overcome these tests using the appropriate commands that are indicated in the manual.
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