On 24

Hacking Jack Bauer

By Jim Rapoza

While 24 has many themes, the one thing that is always at the core of the show is security. Whether it’s the security of a presidential candidate, the city of Los Angeles, or the entire country, the main plot of every season of 24 hinges on one group of people trying to break down security measures (in order to cause harm) and another group dedicated to maintaining that security (in order to stop them). The people involved in these situations can be described in many ways: good guys, bad guys, police, terrorists, criminals, special agents. But there’s another word that can be used to describe them all: hackers.

Mention the word “hacker “and most people think of some computer wiz who uses their elite (or l33t, as the hacker kids like to say) skills to break into corporate or government networks and steal sensitive information.

However, say “hacker” to programmers, security analysts, and other technology workers and they don’t immediately think of criminals. In technology, hacker is often a term of respect, given to someone who knows how everything works (and who, if he doesn’t know how something works, is willing to take the thing apart to figure it out). Good hackers are known for their ability to find creative solutions to almost any problem, whether it’s circumventing a security barrier, pushing a computer beyond its normal capabilities, or using a tool for a purpose completely different from what it was intended for.

In the world of 24, the character who appears to  …

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