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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Matrix mixes life and hacking
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, Warner Brothers
Trinity: Good with guns and keyboards
Reloaded may be wooing some of its audience with its gung-ho gunplay and ferocious special effects but one group of fans are impressed for entirely different reasons.

The web's hacking community has been impressed by the film's depiction of a hack attempt that employs future versions of tools and techniques widely used now.

Net-based message boards have been buzzing with mentions of the realistic depiction and photos of the hacking scenes from the film are being passed around the web.

The successful hack attack is carried out by Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, on a power company computer towards the end of the film.

Exploit alert

When actors in films start using computers, reality usually flees the scene.

But The Matrix Reloaded is winning praise from the net's computer experts and hackers because Trinity is seen using a free, popular scanning tool called Nmap.

Nmap, or Network Mapper, is used to remotely scan a computer or set of servers to find out what a target is doing. This can also reveal if it has any vulnerabilities or loopholes to exploit.

Writing about the scene, the author of Nmap, known as Fyodor, said he almost danced in the aisles of the cinema when he saw Trinity using his creation.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss at Matrix premiere, AP
No keyboards in sight at the Matrix Reloaded premiere
Fyodor wrote that the film makers seem to have changed the text output of Nmap to help it fit better on the display Trinity uses in the movie.

He also said that in the future the Matrix films depict, Nmap seems to run much faster than it does now.

Trinity goes on to use Nmap to reveal the existence of a vulnerability in computer she is targeting which she then exploits with another, fictional, program called SSHnuke.

SSH stands for "Secure Shell" and is a program often used to make the remote use of a computer secure.

Holes in it can be used to allow people without proper permission to compromise a machine and make it do what they want.

In the film Trinity gets the highest level of access to the target machine by using a real-world loophole called "SSH1 CRC32".

Fyodor asked people going to see the film to take a photo of Trinity using Nmap and got some images back 20 minutes after posting his request.

Despite its mention in the first Matrix film there has, so far, been no explanation of how Trinity "broke the IRS dbase" and gained her reputation as a legendary hacker.

The Wachowski brothers are perhaps saving that for the final film Matrix Revolutions, which is due out in November.

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08 May 03  |  Photo Gallery

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