“24: Live Another Day” Tech Challenge 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Twists, turns, family drama and of course, drones. The 8th Jack Bauer installment is getting heated. Of course, Jack has made allies and enemies along the way and with each step, our experts are watching the technology employed to help or hinder the mission.
Previously on 24, Agent Kate Morgan helped Jack and Chloe to get the flight encryption key and find the information to prove the drones were hacked. Unfortunately, it was too late. Margot Al-Harazi (and her reluctant son-in-law) took control of 6 drones. Her threat can be stopped if, and only if, President Heller sacrifices himself and takes responsibility for previous drone attacks that killed her husband.
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
• Computers with 4G network upload and share data throughout the episode which is plausible.
• Add to that, the download process picked up where it left off after being shut down on the computer. This seems nearly impossible but Chloe’s program could have had a work around.
• Identifying the over-ride code – from a hexcode with partial code fragments – to prove the drone was hacked was a nod to programming skills and advanced ethical hacking. Well played.
• When the U.S. orders all drones be grounded, we come to realize six are not responding; something technical was amiss. If the drones were still transmitting (and they were as seen on Al-Harazi’s screens), they should be tracked by programmers who can reboot and bring them back under their control.
• Navid, Margot’s hesitant son-in-law, attempts to shut down a security buffer that safeguards their IP address which would have immediately lead officials to Margot. Ian, a wise hacker and Margot’s son, diverts this move and shares a fake IP address to lead the CIA astray. Here we find another subtle, but important, tech glitch. Techies who use IP V4 addresses may have thought the one Chloe found was strange. It was an IP V6 address.
• Drone doom was inevitable at this point but one might think counter-intelligence could watch the skies for drone presence. Margot has my vote for the world’s worst mother-in-law. What will be her next target? Tick, tick…
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
At long last, Jack has the support of the President. And there was some obvious tension between Jack and Audrey that was long overdue. London’s Prime Minister begins doubting the president and sends MI5 to interfere with Jack’s attempt to find Margot. What else could get in Jack’s way of saving London?
• Data analyst Jordan Walker finds a missing partition related to Agent Morgan’s husband – something’s fishy and things are not adding up but why didn’t the CIA or FBI intelligence identify this oversight previously? Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery is a software used for partition recovery; hopefully it will help him close the loose ends without any red flags.
• Jack and Agent Morgan have a plan to get to Margot via a bank website. With that access (after a big scuffle), Chloe planted a virus to locate Margot.
• Surprisingly fast, Chloe links Margot’s bank transaction to a cell phone which is active and in London. Why would this only link to one account and how could Margot be so sloppy to not have burner phones? Regardless, the technology holds up despite the fact that their work streams ebb and flow in speed.
• Meanwhile, Lead Agent Navarro makes an unregistered call using a plug in his phone. Encryption makes sense but at the CIA headquarters, I am not sure how many blocked communications are feasible from cells (e.g., change the outgoing number, disable internal systems, block any traces). He connects with the person who deleted the files Jordan is trying to recover and schemes next steps.
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Action is when a bomb blows up; suspense is knowing a bomb is there and could go off at any moment. While we’ve seen a lot of action, the suspense keeps building. Margot knows her daughter has been hurt and is deploying missiles to kill her. Meanwhile, the streets of London are NOT running rampant which might be the greatest miss to date in the season.
• Chloe tracks Margot’s cell phone to Simone as she is hit by a bus. Totally plausible but given all of the steps they’ve taken to be safe, it’s still hard to believe.
• Margot connects with President Heller via a secure video line that supposedly can’t be traced. This seems nearly impossible and if this is the case, the government should hire Chloe back immediately as any good hacker could trace the feed. Later, we see President Heller initiate a video call with Margot. While video communications are realistic, it’s very strange there are no boarders with controls, traceable links and zero set up required.
• Margot deploys a drone to blow up the hospital where Simone was taken. If I were programming a drone, I’d certainly include fail safes so if a hospital or school is targeted the drone would shut down weapons and return to its home location. That tactic doesn’t make for good TV but its smart technology.
6:00 PM – 7:00 pm
The still-not-dead Simone is in CIA custody and Jack has no patience to wait for medical procedures. Meanwhile, President Heller agrees to Al-Harazi’s demands in exchange for destruction of the drones. The deal is made and Margot’s troops flee their estate. Back in his circle of trust, Heller quietly asks for Jack’s help on one last mission with the aide of Chief of Staff Mark Boudreaux. As with all seasons of 24, other happenings are taking place in real-time: Chloe hacking in a pub, Agent Navarro issuing hits on his own people and Audrey feeling betrayed by her husband. In time, all the pieces will fit together but the end of this hour was a game-changer.
• To get Heller away from Secret Service, Mark gives Jack a chip to track the agents’ movement. Totally plausible but I’d like to think the guys watching the president are a little more stealth.
• Jack cuts the transponder chip out of the president’s arm to avoid tracking. Transponders I’ve seen are often implanted in the shoulder, not near major veins and arteries in the arm.
• Simone tells Agent Morgan about information hidden in the house. The agent who finds it calls it a disc drive. Talk about a tech flash back and highly unlikely given all the sophisticated equipment Navid (who planted the information) was previously using.
• The CIA team digging into this “disc drive” moved at lightning speed which is next to impossible, especially if someone isn’t that familiar with the technology.
• Chloe, the resident super hacker, tries to crack the codes within Margot’s system but finds firewalls inside of firewalls and three impenetrable streams for the drones. These hacks should be on the disk. While it seems a bit far-fetched, I’m sure she’ll find a hole in one of the streams.
• To end the episode, Margot runs facial recognition software to verify President Heller at Wembley Stadium. This program looks as accurate as any but his name and title mirror a video game more than the advanced data this software might regularly provide. With the confirmation that it is the president, she deploys a missile which triggers off a terrible CGI explosion and kills the president.
24’s presidential curse has taken another and pardon or not, Jack will work to right this assassination. Will Margot be true to her word about destroying the drones? What’s will come of Agent Navarro? Tick, tick…
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Christine Halsey has BSEET and MSET degrees and currently teaches for the College of Engineering & Information Sciences at DeVry University, specializing in C++, LabView, digital systems, PLCs, RF communications, microprocessors and other electronics courses. She loves technology and helping people make hardware and software work together.
DeVry University is not affiliated in any way with Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation or the show “24: Live Another Day.