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Creator of The Undeclared War Peter Kosminsky Says a Cyber ​​Attack in Britain Isn’t Far Fetched

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Boris Johnson ousted by his fellow Tories, an economy in freefall, the lingering effects of the pandemic, and a Russian state trying to hack into our computer systems.

New drama The Undeclared War feels so prescient that Channel 4 chief content officer Ian Katz was concerned before releasing a trailer featuring a fictional news bulletin because “people might think it was real.”

The horrifying events in this six-part international cyberwarfare thriller could very easily happen, creator Peter Kosminsky points out, and when you know that, it’s utterly terrifying to watch civilization unravel so quickly. “The Undeclared War is a cautionary tale,” said Peter, the man behind the TV adaptation of Wolf Hall and ISIS drama The State, who spent five years working on the series.

“There’s nothing in this show that hasn’t happened or hasn’t been cheated by the people here and in other countries who are trying to prepare for these things. No techniques are shown or strategies are not described that are not applied.’

New drama The Undeclared War, starring Simon Pegg and Adrian Lester, is set during the 2024 election campaign, with the economy on a downward curve, Covid still nearby and fictional Tory MP Andrew Makinde (Adrian Lester), who ousted Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, hoping for reelection

The story is set during the 2024 election campaign, with the economy on a downward curve, Covid still around and fictional Tory MP Andrew Makinde (Adrian Lester), who has ousted Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, in hopes of reelection. . It revolves around Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown), a young college student who gains work experience at GCHQ and joins the intelligence center’s division fighting cyber threats.

On the day she starts, disaster strikes. A highly sophisticated bug infiltrates GCHQ’s systems as it tests the strength of British communications. Soon the entire internet – bizarrely exclusive of social media – will be down.

Saara, an outsider in a mostly white, male organization, is first applauded when she sees something the other programmers missed, but it soon becomes apparent that the team, led by Danny Patrick (Simon Pegg) and John Yeabsley (Mark Rylance) An old hand from the GCHQ who is brought back into the fold to support his former colleagues, is faced with a threat far greater than they could have imagined.

With planes grounded, hospitals engulfed in chaos, supermarkets out of stock, and communications down, the GCHQ is ordered to fight back and a battle for each other begins. The series grew out of a dinner conversation Peter had with the show’s producer, Colin Callender, in the wake of the 2016 US election, when Russia was rumored to have influenced voters over the internet.

“I realized something was up and I felt it was my job to shed some light on it,” said Peter, who spoke with leading cyber intelligence officials to learn more about the preparations being made for this. kind of invisible war.

‘The more I researched, the more I was shocked by the vulnerability of our internet-dependent society. It’s really serious, and if we’re not careful, this kind of war will escalate to the point of threatening our civilization.”

It’s a show about a war between computer programmers, but it’s terrifyingly tense. While coding isn’t the sexiest job, the drama metaphorically portrays Saara as some sort of action hero, using hammers, scalpels and crowbars, all coding terms, to break through doors and duck into manholes in search of the tiniest clues in her struggle. with the enemy.

“It’s hard to represent coding, so we’re using this surreal landscape that’s a manifestation of what’s going on in her head,” Hannah says. ‘Before I started the job, I taught myself two programming languages.

The story revolves around Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown), a young college student who gains work experience at GCHQ and joins the intelligence center's division to fight cyber threats.  On the day she starts, a cyber attack takes place and she must help the team solve it

The story revolves around Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown), a young college student who gains work experience at GCHQ and joins the intelligence center’s division to fight cyber threats. On the day she starts, a cyber attack takes place and she must help the team solve it

There’s nothing in this show that hasn’t happened or isn’t prepared for

“There is a moment when the penny drops, and from that I could understand what Saara is doing. She uses all available resources. She is a very talented coder who thinks differently than everyone around her.’

The drama has been meticulously researched to make it authentic. The encryption — which to most of us looks like a jumble of numbers and letters — was written by global cybersecurity experts at the NCC Group.

‘I worked on this for five years with the NCC’, says Peter. “Every bit of code you see is written with the specific function in mind. Some of it is malicious software, modified in such a way that it cannot be copied and used.”

Peter gave each of his actors piles of notes about their character’s background. “I was flattered to be sent the script because it’s not the kind of role people think I’m interested in,” said Simon Pegg, better known for comedic roles and the Mission: Impossible films.

“I was captivated by the story and Peter is exhausting when it comes to building his characters. “So I knew all about Danny’s family, the fact that he was adopted and in foster care and that he was a great rugby player, so I chose to turn his stress ball into a rugby ball.

“I’m a big believer in acting just pretending — like we do as kids. But this felt like something else to me. It wasn’t just the quality, it was the meaning – it feels like an important piece of television.”

The Undeclared War starts on Thursday at 9 p.m. on channel 4.

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