CSI: Cyber: We Watched So You Didn’t Have To

As a public service, the Threatpost team, Mike Mimoso, Dennis Fisher, Brian Donohue and Chris Brook, watched the first episode of CSI: Cyber and kept a running chat log of the “action”. Enjoy.

From the time the first commercials aired during the American pro football championship game last month, CSI: Cyber has been one of the more talked-about and least-anticipated shows in recent memory. At least in tech circles. For normal viewers, it’s one of those shows that you wake up in the middle of at 10:27 after nodding off during Criminal Minds or CSI: Pet Detectives.

The show centers on the Cyber Crime Division at the FBI, a perfectly focus-grouped cast headed by Special Agent Avery Ryan. She is a former behavioral psychiatrist whose practice fell apart when–spoiler alert!–all of her case files were stolen by a hacker who then murdered one of her patients. Now she is on a mission to “turn” hackers one at a time to the path of righteousness. She is aided in this noble quest by the guy who played Dawson, former child rapper Lil Bow Wow, and the two h4x0r caricatures: a bearded, wisecracking guy named Daniel Krumitz who is the “greatest white hat hacker in the world”, and Raven Ramirez, whom we know is a hacker because she has dyed hair. Also, because her name is Raven.

As a public service, the Threatpost team, Mike Mimoso, Dennis Fisher, Brian Donohue and Chris Brook, watched the first episode of CSI: Cyber and kept a running chat log of the “action”. Enjoy.

The show opens with a blandly attractive couple asleep in bed, she holding a book, as if people still read those things.

dfish [10:00 PM]
Annddd here we go.

mmimoso [10:00 PM]
why is he sleeping with glasses on?

dfish [10:01 PM]
We are off to a strong start with a wailing mother and a perfectly put together special agent at 2:37 am

The bad guys have somehow hacked this Baltimore couple’s video baby monitor and then kidnapped the baby, leading the distraught mother to scream as we cyber-cut to the Cyber Crime Unit in Washington, DC. The cyber team assembles, X-Men style, in a room that looks like a rejected set idea from Swordfish 2: Electric Boogaloo.


brian [10:02 PM]
Someone’s name is Krumitz.

brian [10:02 PM]
I love that they hacked the baby camera.

chrisbrook [10:02 PM]
Will they say “internet of things” though? (Sadly, they never did.)

mmimoso [10:02 PM]

brian [10:02 PM]
That’s one cyber!

dfish [10:03 PM]
First video game sighting at 10:03

brian [10:03 PM]
I forgot the beak was in this show! (James Van Der Beek, aka Dawson, aka Agent Elijah Mundo, because that’s a name people have.)

chrisbrook [10:04 PM]
Fat guy with a beard!

mmimoso [10:04 PM]
Fat guy in a plaid shirt sighting

chrisbrook [10:04 PM]
And Bow Wow.

chrisbrook [10:04 PM]
Spunky alt hacker girl.

mmimoso [10:04 PM]
She just said sit-stay to Bow Wow

brian [10:04 PM]
Pretty sure our first cyber mention went something like this: “There was an electronic device involved,” said Patricia Arquette. “By definition, that’s cyber.”

dfish [10:04 PM]
This is everything I hoped it would be.

chrisbrook [10:05 PM]
“Please treat all hardware like a dead body. Don’t touch it, don’t move it until we get there.”

Our heroes venture from their cyber lair in Washington to the wilds of Baltimore to investigate the cyber kidnapping. Their travel time breaks all Capitol Beltway records, even cyber records.

brian [10:06 PM]
Patricia Arquette just scolded BowWow because “a baby’s life is on the line.”

mmimoso [10:06 PM]
They gave her an Oscar

dfish [10:06 PM]
First commercial break and we are at cyber 6

dfish [10:08 PM]
I was prepared for this to be terrible, but this exceeding my expectations by A LOT

brian [10:08 PM]
BowWow certainly seems to be one of those I-don’t-like-his-tactics-but-damnit-he-gets-the-job-done types of cop

dfish [10:09 PM]
He appears to be roughly 4’9″

brian [10:09 PM]
My cyber count is already finished because I have been focussing too seriously on my critical analysis

We’re back, with a dramatic scene of Special Agent Ryan promising she will find the missing baby, and also casting cyber-suspicion on the mom.

dfish [10:10 PM]
This show appears to have been filmed with a 2002 model webcam

brian [10:11 PM]
The victim family is getting very emotional with Patricia Arquette

chrisbrook [10:11 PM]
“I’m sorry, these eyeglasses are fused to my face. That’s why I sleep in them”

brian [10:11 PM]
apparently their child was abducted in some sort of scheme involving a hacked webcam

mmimoso [10:11 PM]
Couldn’t they just pop the baby monitor remotely?

brian [10:12 PM]
“They were casing the baby remotely”

dfish [10:12 PM]
I’m very uncomfortable with the jargon here

brian [10:12 PM]
Is that man with the beard supposed to be the FBI’s hacker?

chrisbrook [10:13 PM]
He’s the best whitehat they’ve got Brian!

Agent Mundo uses fancy crime scene investigation techniques to notice that a kid in a neighboring house is playing video games, so he wanders over. 

dfish [10:13 PM]
I don’t think Dawson should be talking to kids through open windows

mmimoso [10:13 PM]
I cannot take the Dawson’s Creek dude seriously

brian [10:14 PM]
Is any of this supposed to be taken seriously?

The team’s elite investigative skills lead them to discover an SD card is missing from the hacked baby monitor and that “foreign” voice were somehow coming from a monitor with only a microphone and no speaker. Details…

brian [10:14 PM]
Full disclosure: I have never watched CSI anything.

chrisbrook [10:14 PM]
The computer stock image they use to fade from present tense to the past tense – along with the beeping sounds – are really tough to take too.

mmimoso [10:15 PM]
Bad opsec from the Chinese/German/Japanese foreign voices

chrisbrook [10:15 PM]
Wow, that holographic hand taking the SD card.

brian [10:15 PM]
Okay: Patricia Arquette is interrogating the father of the abducted child about the voices he heard emanating from baby monitor. Evidently, those voices should not have been coming through the baby monitor. They made a mistake!

The cyber team is now collecting all of the parents’ mobile phones, laptops and other devices and placing them in hacker-proof bags.

dfish [10:16 PM]
Farraday bags…

chrisbrook [10:16 PM]
This guy should’ve cleared his browser history before handing off his laptop.

brian [10:16 PM]
Someone better die in this episode.

We now cyber-zoom back to the team’s cyber lair, which contains approximately all of the world’s Cat 5 cable and flat screens. Super white hat hacker Krumitz and convicted black hat-turned-reluctant-white-hat Brody Nelson (Bow Wow) start poring through the contents of the parents’ devices. Lines of code scroll down massive monitors. This is the most cyber scene possible.


mmimoso [10:17 PM]
Whoa, gadgets and network cables

chrisbrook [10:17 PM]
All the wires.

dfish [10:17 PM]
“All I got is green code here.”

mmimoso [10:17 PM]
red code = malware

chrisbrook [10:17 PM]
That was great. Malware is red text.

brian [10:17 PM]
We have green code on a black screen!

mmimoso [10:17 PM]

The cyber sleuths have discovered a remote access Trojan on one of the confiscated devices. This is evidence. We know this because Krumitz explains to a team of supposed hackers what a RAT is and that it’s evidence.

mmimoso [10:17 PM]
wouldn’t hacker lady know what a RAT is??

dfish [10:19 PM]
Man, if The Wire cops had had these toys, that show would’ve been over in two episodes

brian [10:19 PM]
In the background we have a wall-sized screen with black and red scripts scrolling down while BowWow, Dawson and Patricia Arquette realize that the mother of the abducted child was having an affair and that the father of the abducted child was in fact not the father of the abducted child

Continued h4x0ring and deductive reasoning lead our heroes to a shabby boat yard in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where they “are not waiting for backup” and kick down a door to find a man conveniently holding a baby.

brian [10:20 PM]
tell me they have the wrong baby!

dfish [10:20 PM]
Stuff just got REAL

brian [10:20 PM]
The cyber cops just found a baby.

chrisbrook [10:20 PM]
It’s a baby-sized human, wearing baby clothes. Same baby, right?

brian [10:20 PM]
Honest mistake.

dfish [10:21 PM]
The dialogue on this show appears to have been generated by a grad student’s research project algorithm

brian [10:21 PM]
I feel like they should hold on to that baby. Might be one of the other missing babies.

chrisbrook [10:21 PM]
Maybe it connects to a future show. Baby ring on the darkweb.

dfish [10:22 PM]
They also may want to look around that boat restoration place that didn’t have any boats in it. Meth lab perhaps?

dfish [10:23 PM]
We are 22 minutes in and this show is delivering on the threats the promos made in a big way

brian [10:23 PM]
Synopsis: Baby monitor gets hacked, baby gets stolen, cyber cops do some cyber magic and find a baby, but — at the moment — it appears to be the wrong baby.

How did the cyber cops cyberlocate this man so quickly, you ask?

dfish [10:24 PM]
“We tracked your IP address to this address.” This is terrific. And terrible.

brian [10:26 PM]
Patricia Arquette is now taking care of the second baby

brian [10:26 PM]
not the originally kidnapped baby

We now have a baby, not necessarily the right baby, but hey. We cyber-dissolve back to the FBI cyber lair, in which Raven and Brody are exchanging witty banter while checking out the suspects’ social media accounts on Friend Agenda. Hacking!

chrisbrook [10:27 PM]
Friend Agenda is Facebook?

mmimoso [10:27 PM]
Love the huge Cyber Crime Division sign

dfish [10:27 PM]
Oh man, the tension between Bow Wow and Hacker Grrrl is getting tight

mmimoso [10:28 PM]
There’s not enough Red Bull, and these peeps are too purty

brian [10:28 PM]
Context: lil Bow Wow is sitting at a computer with a young attractive girl who must be a hacker because she has a strand of red dyed into her messily pony tailed hair.

Having concluded that some drug mules are in on this baby kidnapping plot, our team ventures out into meatspace to track these scoundrels and their Camaro down. Just as they find them, and are about to bring down sweet justice on their heads, something very non-cyber happens.


brian [10:29 PM]
There’s a SNIPER!!

mmimoso [10:29 PM]
Sniper on a dirt bike

brian [10:30 PM]

dfish [10:30 PM]
Damn, Dawson can shoot

brian [10:30 PM]
he just shot a sniper off his dirt bike from an impressive distance with a hand gun

chrisbrook [10:30 PM]
A reminder how great some of the future episode titles are.

1. Kidnapping 2.0.
2. CMD:/Crash
3. Click Your Poison
4. L0m1s
5. URL, Interrupted
6. Fire Code
7. Killer en Route
8. Selfie 2.0
9. Crowd Sourced
10. The Evil Twin
11. Ghost in the Machine
12. Family Secrets

brian [10:30 PM]
The deceased’s finger prints were burnt off.

brian [10:31 PM]
And he had an SD memory card in his pocket

chrisbrook [10:31 PM]
Spoiler the second episode is about how Ryan and her team are called in when the hacking of a roller-coaster leads to a mass casualty incident.

dfish [10:32 PM]
The cyber count is stuck at 6 and we’re halfway through this morass

brian [10:32 PM]
words can’t explain how terrible it was when the characters were all of the sudden being filmed in a weird cyberspace

dfish [10:33 PM]
If you watched this with the sound off, it would appear to be an episode of the CSI knockoff that was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall

brian [10:34 PM]
Full disclosure: when the episode first started, I thought the guy sleeping in his glasses was Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing from Friends)

chrisbrook [10:34 PM]
That would’ve been a good cameo.

brian [10:35 PM]
Serious lack of cameos

brian [10:36 PM]
Have they actually gathered any intelligence from the Internet as the show’s title would suggest?

dfish [10:36 PM]
I expected a weird drive-by cameo from Mitnick as a barista or something

chrisbrook [10:36 PM]
They used a geotag does that count?

brian [10:36 PM]
“Oh those poor parents. They buy a baby cam to protect their child and that’s the one thing that gets him abducted.”

We learn that the bad guys are using baby monitors to conduct online video auctions of babies. In the babies’ houses. Which seems totally plausible.

mmimoso [10:36 PM]
Here’s where bearded hacker saves the day with ninja translation of the auction

brian [10:37 PM]
So many baby pics

chrisbrook [10:38 PM]

Surprised we haven’t gotten a Tor reference or weird encryption reference yet. How are they gonna get on that website to do some snooping?

Our favorite bearded hacker cyberflies to Chicago to check out the operations of the company that makes the hacked baby monitors. By holding a Toughbook near some servers in a data center, he discovers that the company has a flaw in its source code, which the bad guys are exploiting. Special Agent Ryan tells Krumitz to shut the company down. 

chrisbrook [10:38 PM]
Your source code is telling me how they got in!

dfish [10:38 PM]
“You have a vulnerability in your multiview function you idiot!”

mmimoso [10:38 PM]
now we’re rolling

chrisbrook [10:39 PM]
Shut. It. Down!

mmimoso [10:39 PM]
pretty sure she needs a FISA order to shut it down

brian [10:39 PM]
Babies are going missing it’s a Steven King novel

dfish [10:40 PM]
The plot is indecipherable, but there’s so many flashy lights and bad dialogue to process, I don’t even care

brian [10:41 PM]
Patricia Arquette and army doctor are examining the holographic x-ray of the mother of the (first) abducted child, who apparently smuggled drugs in her body

Cyber cut back to gamer neighbor kid, who gets a threatening video message while playing his XBOX knockoff game console. 

mmimoso [10:41 PM]
Mom. China in my video game

brian [10:41 PM]
was that kid’s gamer tag “cheeseburger1”

dfish [10:41 PM]
yes, yes it was

brian [10:42 PM]
there was just a video of baby #1 screaming on camera

brian [10:42 PM]
Patricia Arquette sternly told the hackers not to harm the baby

chrisbrook [10:43 PM]
Looks like they’re going to Jersey. Naturally.

mmimoso [10:43 PM]
Wow, those 42 minutes just flew by

dfish [10:43 PM]
And now beardo hacker is tracking him through the game console. This is some next level cheese

brian [10:43 PM]
How about those hacking graphics?

dfish [10:43 PM]
This makes Swordfish look like a documentary

brian [10:44 PM]
the one with the beard was hacking something on an XBOX when the screen went to a sort of binary recreation of the earth and two XBOX controllers rotating together

brian [10:45 PM]
Ultimately, he found the bad guys in Paterson, New Jersey.

Through fancy XBOX hacking (and bad plotting), Krumitz discovers the bad guys’ location in New Jersey.

brian [10:45 PM]
Any guesses as to why these cyber criminals are stealing babies?

mmimoso [10:46 PM]
because of bad source code at NatalCam

mmimoso [10:46 PM]
they wanted to exploit the bugs and get jobs

brian [10:47 PM]
I think it’s more complex than that…

mmimoso [10:47 PM]
I’ve been lost since the sniper killed the two meth-heads

dfish [10:47 PM]
If the screaming goat from the Geico commercials showed up in the data center I wouldn’t be surprised at this point

The cyber crime team cyber-parachutes into Paterson, N.J., complete with tactical gear and a green bouncy ball with IP-enabled cameras in it that Agent Mundo throws through a conveniently open window in the hackers’ gritty warehouse lair.

chrisbrook [10:48 PM]

brian [10:48 PM]
Why are the cyber-cops wearing bullet-proof vests?

dfish [10:49 PM]
Dawson threw a cyber dog toy through the window

The FBI then drives a tank through the warehouse door after the dog toy shows them a video of dudes and guns inside the warehouse.

chrisbrook [10:50 PM]
“Find the computers, get into them” Putting our favorite hacker to work!

brian [10:50 PM]
the cyber police just drove an armored truck through the wall of a warehouse and shook down some sketchy-looking ne’er-do-wells

Krumitz is now faced with a 20-character password protecting the hackers’ fancy machine. He tells the team that it’s impossible to break, so they assume that the dumb-dumb bad guys wrote it down somewhere. 

brian [10:51 PM]
“We’ll probably break the encryption in 10,000,000,000 years.”

mmimoso [10:51 PM]
now they’re looking for sticky notes

mmimoso [10:51 PM]
or passwords on tattoos

chrisbrook [10:51 PM]
Literally laughed out loud when Dawson ripped that dude’s shirt off.

The head bad guy has the password tattooed on him in the form of various dates. But it takes mad brain skills from Bow Wow to put the numbers in the right order to form the password.

brian [10:51 PM]
BowWow is back

brian [10:51 PM]
He’s rhyming

mmimoso [10:51 PM]
rearrange the numbers yo

mmimoso [10:52 PM]
so much for 62 to the 20th power

brian [10:52 PM]
BowWow just guessed a 25 character password in like ten seconds

Cyber cut to the team in a car chase with some other bad guys who have one of the other stolen babies. Because the bad guys are driving a Toyota Camry, it’s a short chase that ends in a lake.


dfish [10:52 PM]
Now it’s Dukes of Hazzard: Cyber

chrisbrook [10:53 PM]
That car got some lift.

dfish [10:53 PM]
I had a Toyota Camry and they do not do well in car chase situations.

brian [10:53 PM]
Update: the baby (the one that actually matters) is in a car that just drove into a lake

chrisbrook [10:54 PM]
Not sure how possible it’d be to break a car window with your elbow underwater.

Agent Mundo heroically dives into the lake and rescues the baby from the car. Very un-cyber.

brian [10:54 PM]
the baby is…

brian [10:54 PM]

brian [10:54 PM]
Patricia Arquette just kissed the baby back to life

brian [10:54 PM]
so many feels

dfish [10:54 PM]
was that the doll from American Sniper?

chrisbrook [10:54 PM]
That baby’s been through a lot. He was in Albany!

mmimoso [10:55 PM]
joyful reunion in 3-2-1…

brian [10:55 PM]
Baby is back with his parents

chrisbrook [10:55 PM]
Slow motion Patricia Arquette. Ugh.

brian [10:55 PM]
all in a day’s work for the team at CSI: Cyber

dfish [10:55 PM]
There’s some serious emoting going on. Arquette didn’t win an Oscar for nothing

And, with all of the stolen babies safe and sound, our heroes reconvene in the cyber lair to congratulate and gently tease one another. At which point Special Agent Ryan tells her team it’s time that she gets them back to their parents’ basements. 


dfish [10:56 PM]
first parent’s basement joke at 10:55

brian [10:58 PM]
Patricia Arquette was a psychologist who got hacked and lost her patient’s files and one of her patients was murdered but she never caught the hacker/killer. This is why she is so motivated to catch the bad guys.

dfish [10:58 PM]
Fade out on Patricia sitting on the Lincoln Memorial steps

brian [10:58 PM]
two out of seven hatchets

dfish [10:59 PM]
That was even worse than I hoped it would be, and I had extremely low expectations

chrisbrook [10:59 PM]
That was very rough. Reminds me why I never watch any of these shows.

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