It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here
aka: Hacker Duel
A head-to-head confrontation between two computer hackers, combining the excitement of people typing
with the thrill of network protocol loopholes being exploited.
One hacker is trying to penetrate a computer system while the second is busily trying to keep the first one out. Expect the hackers to consider each other to be a Worthy Opponent
. Often mixed with an attempt to back-trace the invading Hacker's source, depicted much like phone back-tracing usually is. Expect plenty of Hollywood Hacking
jargon and visuals to keep the audience occupied.
Almost no one thinks to simply unplug the target computer from the network because apparently Everything Is Online
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Chisame versus Chachamaru in the festival arc.
- In Gakuen Heaven of all things the vice-presidents of the student council and the treasury are constantly trying to hack each other and keep the other out.
- In Bloody Monday the protagonist has many duels with opposing hackers, both in the first and second seasons.
- Ghost in the Shell has a few examples.
- It also averts the trope in Solid State Society. Section 9 actually does cut the power when they start getting hacked (via fireaxe to the power cords).
- Happens in Cannon God Exaxxion as both sides run a propaganda war against each other.
- In Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake, two Cyborg Dueling Hackers complete with ominously named programs with skull icons, while sitting face to face at the same table. Eventually, the losing cyborg shrugs, picks up his laptop and clubs his enemy to death.
- A slowed down and scaled up version: The .hack plot-lines for the Twilight manga and anime involve a group of hackers breaking down an MMORPG while the game's programmers try and counter the slow infection.
- Hanaukyō Maid Tai. In episode 8 the Jihiyou family hacks into the MEMOL supercomputer to steal information (and possibly activate the mansion's Self-Destruct Mechanism). Grace manages to defeat them.
- It's not really made that much of, but this happens between Yatouji Satsuki and Imonoyama Nokoru in X/1999. She is trying to hack into the computers of CLAMP Campus and he is trying to keep her out. Given that Satsuki is a technopath working in tandem with a supercomputer, the fact that Nokoru actually manages to make it combat instead of a Curb-Stomp Battle is pretty impressive.
- Happens often enough in Dennou Coil, since realspace and cyberspace are linked. A particularly heated one happens between Isako and Fumie early on.
- While it wasn't precisely done by hackers (mostly), the Digimon Adventure movie introducing Diablomon featured a fight between the viral creature and the hero 'mons... IN CYBERSPACE.
- Oracle and Calculator faced each other online several times in Birds of Prey. Typically, it was to get the other's location so they could send superhuman agents to arrest/kill each other.
- Johnny Mnemonic.
- Part of the climax of Hackers.
- Also the scene where Dade tries to take over the TV studio. In reality, it's two robot arms trading a videotape. In Hollywood it's two titans meeting on the battlefield, if the kung fu clips interspersed with the robot arms and neat visual effects surrounding Dade's head are supposed to mean anything.
- The James Bond film GoldenEye has a world map where the audience can see how the tracing back of the hacker works (in Hollywood!).
- The backtracing map is trivial to implement (traceroute, GeoIP, Google Maps, whatever takes your fancy), its just that fancy Viewer Friendly Interfaces tend to get in the way of most useful network administration or abusing activities.
- Also, Playful Hacker Boris kills time by hacking into Western computers and taunting his opponents as they try to thwart him.
- He even thinks of unplugging his computer in the end, when he gets hacked back. He doesn't just pull the cable out though, but rips out whole racks of gear and throws them on the floor.
- In Demon Hunters: Dead Camper Lake, two Cyborg Dueling Hackers, complete with ominously named programs with skull icons, while sitting face to face at the same table. Eventually, the losing cyborg shrugs, picks up his laptop and clubs his enemy to death.
- Resident Evil. In the first movie Kaplan has a hacking duel with the Red Queen AI to bypass her defenses.
- The Core treated Rat's interaction with security systems this way, as though he were dueling with the security programmer. After breaking into DESTINI and shutting it down, "Your kung fu is not strong."
- A regular element in Vernor Vinge's Hugo-nominated novella, "True Names", especially in the climax, where Mr. Slippery and Erythrina are fighting the Big Bad for control of the world's computer systems, including missile launch codes and military Kill Sats.
- A Fox Tail quickly switches from Vulpie controlling everything with an internet connection to Vulpie struggling for control against his own robotic duplicate Evil Vulpie.
Live Action TV
- Can happen in Cyberpunk games when a hacker tries to break into a computer system guarded by defending programmers. For example, in Shadowrun adventures whenever a decker tries to penetrate a system protected by defense deckers.
- According to emails in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Pritchard aka "Nucl3arsnake" got into one of these with Arie van Bruggen aka "Windmill". Pritchard managed to hold his own and would have won if Windmill hadn't discovered Sarif's hidden backdoor access.
- As Uplink is all about hacking, this is inevitable; lingering around the backdoor of a computer network brings you closer to the target system carrying out a back-trace, and there's also the risk of the system administrator coming online to deal with you.
- In Injustice: Gods Among Us, when the Alternate Universe Cyborg (who's working with Superman) finds his Main Universe counterpart trying to hack into the Watchtower's teleporters (and having beaten alternate Catwoman in the meantime), he sends a virus to his systems to hold him in place. Cyborg immediately counters by hacking into his double's systems to do the same. They stand before each other, using holographic screens to hack into the other's cybernetics for a good while, until they decide that isn't working and go on to just beat the crap out of each other.
- The Cuckoo's Egg is a first-hand account of real-life Dot Combat from 1986. Clifford Stoll was asked by his supervisor to find the cause of a $0.75 billing anomaly in the accounts; over ten months, he followed the trail from that, to a hacker who was breaching American military networks looking for information on the Nuclear and SDI programs and selling what he stole to the KGB.
- This story is notable for being the first properly documented case of computer hacking: Clifford Stoll was an astronomer, trained to document what he did in detail, and with the curiosity of a scientist - as opposed to the standard response of an IT guy, who would usually have just locked out the offending user accounts and forgotten all about it.
- Hackers from Taiwan and China have had actual hacking feuds going on. After all, why not try to hack your countries most likely enemy and get sympathy from your nearest neighbors, rather then making them mad?
- Israel and just about every Arab nation around also have this going on.
- Allegedly, the internet has recently been slowed down by a 'war' that started when SpamHaus, a non-profit organization that provides anti-spam services, decided to blacklist sketchy Dutch web filtering firm CyberBunker, who didn't take it lightly. They retaliated apparently not only with a massive strike of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) kind - but also with a more vicious Domain Name System (DNS) attack.
- Core War is a nerdier version of gladiator fighting. Programmers write small "warrior" programs in a special language called Redcode, which are then released into a simulated computer to fight to the death.