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Hacker Man: Wait a minute. Using an RX modulator, I might be able to conduct a mainframe cell direct and hack the uplink to the download.
Kung Fury: What the hell does that mean?
Hacker Man: It means that with the right computer algorithms, I can hack you back in time. Just like a time machine.

If it's a computer, or has a digital connection it's vulnerable to hackers. No further questions.

A Cracker or Playful Hacker can cause unlimited harm/mischief in fiction because any computer, or any device with a CPU as a component — or even with a few strands of copper wire in it — is connected to the Internet and thus becomes easily accessible and subvertible to the character's hacking skill. Everything from NORAD to traffic lights to the engine computer in your SUV can be tampered with and shut down from a laptop in a room thousands of miles away. This openly defies the fact that in neither case are said computers and devices actually online in a way that is reachable by someone on a modem.

Here, everything is online. There are no closed systems that aren't connected to the internet at large, and any machine can be plugged into or have its electronics easily screwed with from afar. All you need is a wireless connection and some illegal hacking programs - and voila, you're in.

This being said, writers were probably just getting a bit ahead of themselves, as this Cyberpunk trope is increasingly becoming Truth in Television. As ubiquitous Internet connectivity becomes essential for almost any electronic gadget or device, everything from cars note  to military networks will become increasingly hackable via the Internet. Even without an explicit internet connection, many devices have varying types of wireless functionality, which to a skilled adversary are as good as an Internet connection.

One would assume that any security-sensitive computer system would avoid being connected to anything. It is so, and there do exist a number of regional and even global networks that are completely separate from the Internet and are often built with different technologies. Yet, every such barrier means tons of wasted work time (which equals wasted money for the company) for users and sysadmins alike, and it costs an obscene amount of money to build and maintain such networks for only a few parties to use. Very few organizations have the resources or the will to construct their own air-gap networks, so all the traffic flows over the public Internet or telecommunications networks protected by VPNs and firewalls. Same goes for different technologies: every piece of software logic ever created for TCP/IP, WWW, or any of the many related protocols and standards need to be reimplemented if one needs it for a service built on a different technology, making the latter severely lack in features in comparison. Then, as the technologies behind the Internet pass the test of time, scrutiny and the resulting security fixes over the years — having had far more exposure to threats than any in-house tech ever could — physically separating communication channels for a system to stay secure becomes less and less of a requirement. Finally, even if a private network is air-gapped properly, this is still not a complete guarantee of security, as famously demonstrated by Stuxnet, which is thought to have spread to Iranian nuclear facilities through USB drives. Even supposedly closed-access systems aren't, as demonstrated by Chinese hackers stealing fighter jet plans from the US government. So nowadays, even control units for critical infrastructure only come with an RJ-45 connector and a hard-coded ability to speak IP.

Still, there remain some gross exaggerations like the ability to erase a person's existence by deleting his identity records. In Hollywood reality, physical records like paper birth certificates and driver licenses are always null and void if the computers can't find a digital copy.

This trope is usually how an Evil Computer manages to subjugate humanity: By shutting down or reprogramming everything electrical in the world, from nuclear missiles to street cameras to light bulbs. This trope is also part of the Internet Safety Aesop since people can learn how much a hacker can access online.

Of course in a series set in the Present Day (or just twenty minutes from now) it might make sense to assume that most things have a connection of some kind, despite that no matter how networked the world gets, there will always be systems kept offline for security reasons.

Compare: It's A Small Net After All, Plug 'n' Play Technology. The Other Wiki calls the real-life version of this the "Internet of Things" (no, not the Internet of Stuff).


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  • In a Geico commercial for the insurance company's mobile app, someone hacks all of a corporate office's technology and causes it to go haywire. Yes, even isolated appliances like wall clocks, desktop fans, and soda machines.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Jamming with Edward", Ed retaliates against a pair of policemen who try to apprehend her by hacking into their ship's autopilot and taking it for a joy ride, accidentally crashing it. (Fortunately for them, she's a Playful Hacker and does it while it's parked outside with no one in it.)
  • The basic premise of Corrector Yui is Magical Girls in an online world trying to fix things in the real world, including school trips, traffic lights, and medical machinery.
  • In Serial Experiments Lain, everything is online, without exception, to the point that one of the catchphrases is: no matter where you go, everyone's connected. In fact, Lain once almost gets run over by a car, because of a failure in the citywide car guidance system. Considering that the first scene depicts someone uploading their consciousness to the internet by committing suicide, conventional electrical gadgets being connected to the internet isn't far-fetched by comparison.
    • The premise is basically this (minus the psychokinetic powers also present): human brains have electromagnetic vibrations in them as part of the neurons' functions. Planet Earth has ubiquitous electromagnetic resonance (called Schumann Resonance after its discoverer), which according to the series subtly affects the functions of the human brain. Somebody discovered how to manipulate the Schumann Resonance in a way that connects all people's minds subconsciously without necessarily even relying on machines, which naturally are also affected.
  • Perhaps the attack on the Magi computer system in End of Evangelion would have failed much sooner if NERV, instead of putting up firewalls in a Race Against the Clock, had simply disconnected the bloody thing from every line connected to the outside world.
    • The English dub for Ireul's invasion of the Magi has Ritsuko suggest that attempting to sever the Magi from each other or anything else would require dismantling the Geofront (in the Japanese version, she merely voices her concern about abandoning the Magi so swiftly).
  • Satsuki, the hacker in X/1999, has a computer that is not only sentient and can hack into anything online, but it can actually electrically manipulate the power cords themselves to attack people. Even disconnecting the computer from the network doesn't help once she's got her claws in it. Lampshaded when Satsuki steals Nataku's life support data. "We're being hacked and we aren't even on a network!"
  • Ghost in the Shell justified as making sense in a world where almost everyone you meet has a cybernetic implant connecting their brain wirelessly to the internet. Shown most prominently when the Laughing Man, on more than one occasion, hacks not only cameras but people's visual inputs to replace his face with his two-dimensional logo. In a Mind Screw moment, people will even remember and swear that the logo is the real face.
    • However, the trope is averted when logical. In the aforementioned Laughing Man incident, two homeless guys without any cybernetics are not affected. Not that they see particularly much. The military uses "autistic mode", meaning they turn off their wireless capability. Likewise, certain facilities and networks are not connected to the broader net, forcing Section 9 to resort to more direct methods fairly often.
    • And then there is the case of "ghost hacks", where a person's natural personality and memory can be deleted/edited from a remote source. This is really, really hard, however - it's mentioned that there are fewer than a half dozen individuals in the world who are capable of it.
    • The hackers fight in Man-Machine Interface involves someone disconnecting a vulnerable plug and using lasers to attack the satellites used by the other side to transmit info!
  • Nicely Averted in Cannon God Exaxxion; though each Artificial Human can hack into things like robots and space battle ships, they have to assimilate them with Nanomachines to do it.
  • Real Drive has this, although there are still some people without a cybernetic implant.
  • Digimon absolutely loves this trope. Apparently, the Digital World and Digimon can affect not merely computers and phone lines in the real world, but everything from microwaves to traffic lights to an entire house's electrical setup. This is because the Digital World isn't simply an analog for the Internet—it's the physical manifestation of all digital data no matter how vast or minute the system may be. This is shown in the movie Our War Game, where we actually see the Internet as a separate realm within the larger Digital World. Therefore, anything computerized, online or otherwise, can be affected by using the Digital World as a go-between.
    • This applies mostly to the first two seasons, Adventure and Adventure 02, and Frontier. In Tamers, the Digital World and the Internet (referred to as "the Network" both in-universe and in supplementary material) are implied to be practically the same thing, so even the most tech-savvy of enemies like Makuramon, Zhuqiaomon, and the D-Reaper only able to attack systems connected directly to the Internet. The closed-circuit LAN system Hypnos operates on during the second half of the series proves largely invulnerable to the same type of attack that knocked out Hypnos HQ earlier in the series.
  • Justified in Blame! The Netsphere was designed as an online paradise and safe haven for any human with Net Terminal Genes, as well as a system with absolute control over near everything within The City.
    • Safeguards can even download themselves from the Netsphere into the physical work where they can construct bodies from the nearest random materials.
  • Enforced in Yurei Deco: Tom Sawyer Island is covered by an Augmented Reality, and participation through a Brain/Computer Interface known as a 'Deco' is mandatory for all citizens. Everything, from the facades of buildings to individual people's avatars, have an AR component that overlaps the physical one, and there are entirely digital constructs like classrooms that can be entered from anywhere through one's Deco.

    Comic Books 
  • Age of Ultron: Played for horror in the Avengers Assemble tie-in issue; Starktech artificial limbs are connected to the Wifi, so when Ultron starts the end of the world, this includes hijacking people via prosthetic limbs, which is how Black Widow ends up losing an eye.
  • Batman: If Bruce Wayne needs anything, ever, somehow the Batcomputer can always find it, and on the very rare occasions it can't if Bats asks her nicely enough Barbara Gordon can.
  • Champions: In Champions (2016) #17, the second Vivian is able to take control of subway trains by hacking into their control systems through the internet.
  • Ms. Marvel: In Ms. Marvel (2016), Doc.X is a sapient computer virus whose main schtick is its ability to download itself into anything and everything. In addition to computers, tablets, phones and the like, it can enter and control cars and construction equipment — some do have built-in computers, but these never control their actual moving parts — and even human brains.

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue, Rob temporarily loses his thesis due to a virus being spread by a sick old computer. He was using it to call for help and ends up helping him get it back in the end.
  • Summer Wars: Everything is connected to the online community of OZ, up to and including major governments, large corporations, and traffic control. It is essentially the entire Internet routed through a single UI platform. Then an account-stealing AI gets released into OZ...

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is an example of the evil computer version — in this case, Skynet. Many of the electronic things it spreads through, like cash registers, aren't even supposed to be online, so the Terminator infects stuff with remote-control Nanomachines.
  • The heroes of Sneakers, with the super-chip they've just stolen, are able to access anything from the Federal Reserve to the national air-traffic control system.
  • Hackers is all about a group of teenage hackers who do all sorts of things by hacking into computers as youthful rebellion. One particular hacking coup involves capsizing tankers via a virus.
  • WarGames, probably one of the earlier instances of this trope, relies on the idea that the computer that controls the launching of nuclear missiles is accessible to anyone with a 300 baud modem. Of course, the creator of the not-so-evil A.I. put in a backdoor password; his son's name. In this case, WOPR was not supposed to be accessible from outside. It was a grave switching error at a phone company that made it possible.
  • The direct-to-video sequel War Games 2 plays it straight. When RIPLEY gets control, it can view through every CCTV camera in the world (apparently), and control traffic lights, and somehow make a UAV travel from the Middle East to eastern Canada in less than an hour. The main character books a plane ticket to Paris online. In 1983.
  • This is used in Live Free or Die Hard. The hackers have a "fire sale"; communications, water, power, all are taken down in sequence. They even give a jet pilot false orders to kill McClane. Of course, they are unable to remotely access the power grid and have to physically break into a power hub and later, the U.S. Omniscient Database.
  • Superman III, notable for displaying this trope before the Internet as we know it came along, has the villains remotely accessing everything from bank accounts to traffic lights to the weather itself (by messing with satellites). This is played for laughs to an extent: the traffic light flashes back and forth between the red man and the green man; eventually both stay lit — and then one jumps down and starts attacking the other. Now that's some magical hacking.
  • The Net (1995) is entirely built around this trope. It was made when the Internet was just becoming mainstream in America and explores the frightening possibilities of this new technology. The plot involves a computer programmer being targeted by shadowy forces who hack her personal records to ruin her life. Scene after scene is intended to show how pervasive and powerful the Internet is becoming.
  • In Short Circuit 2, Johnny 5 replaces his shoulder-mounted laser with a radio that can hack things. He uses it to shut down cars by triggering their burglar alarms and pilot remote-controlled model airplanes. However, in the last few minutes of the movie, when the villain is escaping in a boat, Johnny 5 tries to use it on the boat, but it doesn't work because it is not radio-controlled.
  • Untraceable: Apart from hacking a car, the villain also sets up a system where footage of whatever victim he's caught is streamed live to the internet, and the more views it gets, the closer the trap they're caught in comes to killing them. 'Cause New Media Are Evil.
  • In High School Musical one of the "brains" uses her laptop to hack the school's electrical grid, disabling power everywhere except the theater, so that Troy and Gabriela can make their callback at the climax of the show (movie or stage).
  • In the 2008 film Eagle Eye, the Voice with an Internet Connection who guides the protagonists, (ab)uses the fact that Everything Is Online to control every bit of electric machinery to aid the protagonists in their tasks. Traffic lights, security cameras, metros, mobile phones, electronic billboards, everything can be manipulated. Even construction cranes. And the movie, via timestamps on computers, shows it takes place in the distant future of January 2009.
    • Subverted with Agent Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) who, thrown by the fact that cameras keep conveniently going online, seeks out the closed-circuit cameras of a small business store.
    • The Voice With an Internet Connection can even cause a power pylon to drop its wires on a target and electrocute him — despite the lack of any apparent mechanical means, online or otherwise, in place for the purpose.
  • Carried to a ridiculous extreme in Ghost in the Machine (not to be confused with the trope of the same name): in a freak accident, a serial killer has his mind (or soul, or whatever) transferred into Cyberspace. Not only is he able to hack computers, but he can also control electrical appliances, including electrocuting his victims, and in one particular scene causes a microwave oven to cook someone to death. In mere seconds. From several feet across an open room! Apparently by turning it up a notch, despite the fact most magnetrons only have one power level (pseudo-levels achieved through duty cycles). Though it does look cool.
  • In The Matrix, everything is the result of being plugged into a computer simulation.
  • In The Core, the plucky comic-relief hacker prevents Project Destini from firing by hacking into the power grid, and re-routing all electrical power, throughout the United States, to Coney Island. Apparently, there is no longer any such thing as a manual transformer switch.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises:
    • Selina Kyle remarks that "everything is collated and quantified. It sticks", and says how any kid with a smartphone can upload anything onto the internet, in justification of wanting a "clean slate" computer program to wipe her criminal record clean.
    • Inverted with the stock market heist — Bane's crew apparently need to take over the physical building housing the trading floor in order to run their fake trades (or at the very least, start the process).
  • The main villain in Skyfall is somehow able to use computers to cause a gas explosion and escape from his jail cell.
  • Averted in The Social Network, when Zuckerberg is shown hacking (realistically) into his college dorms' directories. He notes that one dormitory's network is isolated from the main college network, says "Can't do anything about that", and ignores it, moving on to the next one.
  • In Transcendence, The virus shuts down basically every piece of technology on the planet, though it is mentioned there are a few spots where technology is working. Boston has phone service, for instance.
  • Averted in Kingsman: The Secret Service. For Merlin to get into Valentine's system, Eggsy has to infiltrate Valentine's base, gain access to a laptop already connected to his internal network, then plug in a device to give Merlin remote access to the laptop. And even once he has access to the system, he can't do anything to prevent Valentine's plan, as it relies on biometric security.
  • Averted in Mission: Impossible (1996) when Ethan recruits computer expert Luther Stickell and explains his plan to get access to the computer that holds the NOC list. Luther chuckles and starts to explain to the "computer illiterate" the aversion to this trope, pointing out that this particular system is "what is called a 'stand-alone'". After a few seconds, Ethan reveals that he's not as computer illiterate as Luther thinks and describes the top-notch security around the machine. And yes, this means physically going in and getting the data onto a disk.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
    • Ultron can connect to almost anywhere on the Internet, rummaging through files and wreaking havoc in general. The first step to defeating him is when Vision forcibly overwrites his code, limiting his ability to transfer himself to within his army of drones.
    • Subverted when Ultron tries to cover his tracks by deleting all the data available on Baron von Strucker. After lamenting the loss for a minute, the team just goes to the hard-copies and finds the connection.
  • In The Sense of Wonder, Pierre uses his laptop to set off the fire sprinklers in a nightclub to get revenge on them for firing Emma.

  • Zig-zagged in Artemis Fowl: The C-Cube can access satellites, hack a phone by touching it, etc. However, it cannot access a closed system for plot reasons. It can, however, access the LEP without any problem, and hack bank accounts while in said closed system.
  • In the book Brain Jack, the A.I. Ursula can access everything in the world.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the Missing Adventures novel System Shock and the Past Doctor Adventures novel Millennium Shock, the Big Bad has spent years planting alien microchips in all kinds of things, precisely so they can do this. Perhaps this is why Mickey in the TV episode "World War Three" is able to launch a missile from his computer with a single password...
  • Averted in the web-novel Domina. When Butler says that the changelings are hacking him, he means they're hacking the basic public-access sites which don't control anything remotely important. It's compared to graffiti; "Annoying, but harmless." Nothing important is ever connected to outside networks. When someone hacks something important, it means that they already sent in a commando team to plant a wi-fi bug on a connected terminal earlier.
  • Max Gladstone's Empress of Forever takes this to its logical extreme, with a virtual Cloud encompassing literally everything in the galaxy, up to and including the laws of physics. Souls are real because they're your digital presence in the Cloud, which persists after your death. Faster-than-light travel is possible because causality propagates instantly in the Cloud, so ships (and sometimes people) cross interstellar distances by turning into data and calculating themselves into new locations. If you want to move a planet around, you tell the Cloud the planet should move, and it will.
  • This is how the events of The Fear Index can take place. The book that was ordered online required only a simple e-mail with no interaction with humans. The wannabe killer was contacted online. The conversation to the killer was ripped from files hacked from a doctor's office. The VIXAl-4 was able to build itself a new mainframe and maintain itself by ordering staff online, with money it stole from Hoffmann's company.
  • In A Fox Tail Vulpie manages to infect everything connected to the internet with a Contagious A.I.. Everything ranges from TVs to military robots and spaceships. Before his big move, he plays with some traffic lights using his phone.
  • In Charles Stross' Glasshouse, both everything and everyone is online. First because everyone has a communication implant allowing network access at any time, and second because almost all of the technology for transportation, healing and other activities common in the futuristic setting (immortality, altering its own body, creating clones of oneself, ...) is based on nanotechnological devices that deconstruct people (or things) molecule by molecule, store the pattern, alter/duplicate/transport it and reconstruct the result. Therefore, wars are fought through network worms which infect these nanoassemblers, and you have better have a good firewall if you don't want your personality to be hacked and edited.
  • In the H.I.V.E. Series, if it's a computer, Otto Malpense can control it, hack into it, or just plain mess around with it. Examples include; "talking" with a computer-controlled car, deactivating the Big Bad's space station while texting the semi-good guys, and jamming a grappler device.
  • Honor Harrington: Played straight and averted, depending on the computer network.
  • In Dan Simmon's Hyperion Cantos, most of the computer systems in the world are connected together through the "megasphere", a multi-world Internet monitored by A.I.s from the TechnoCore, but some systems (notably military networks) are designed to be independent. It is revealed, however, that the TechnoCore can access these systems anyway. So, everything is online even if it's not supposed to be. Which sucks because, of course, the apparently benevolent AIs finally betray humanity.
  • Illium, also by Simmons, takes this to its logical extreme. The noosphere connects everything in nature to the web, allowing people to talk with trees as one of the less Egregious examples, in an early version of what would eventually become the Allnet. Activating said Allnet grants you the ability to see every flow and chemical process, properly named for your convenience, of everything everywhere on earth. You can also teleport wherever you want, from wherever you want and to wherever you want, of course including instant verbal and nonverbal communication with anyone anywhere. It's pretty convenient.
  • In The Scarecrow, Carver the Serial Killer bad guy is head of security at a server farm, and thus can go pretty much anywhere he wants on the Internet. He sets up a trap site to let him know that he's being investigated and then uses his all-access Internet pass to cut Intrepid Reporter good guy Jack McEvoy off from the world — emptying Jack's bank account, canceling his credit cards, canceling his phone service, cutting off his email access. This is all part of a plot to isolate and murder Jack.
  • In Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist's motorcycle is rendered inert by a computer virus. ("Asherah's possessed his bike.") Perhaps justified by the book's setting in a futuristic Cyberpunk world, since there's already lots of work going into the idea of making the electronic engine management system of cars remotely accessible, so that it can be disabled in the event of theft, or stopped by the police without the need for risky manoeuvres. More creative uses are left as an exercise for the student...
  • Star Wars Legends: Justified in Galaxy of Fear. One book takes place on a luxury cruise starship, and many functions are being switched from being done by crew to being handled by the computer, from choosing a course to cooking the food. When the computer goes rogue, well...
  • DFZ: Discussed; when Opal discovers that a man encoded some GPS coordinates on his cybernetic hand, the hacker she brings it to mentions that cybernetics have really tough security because no one wants their implants hacked. It also has no wireless capability (even in a city where a significant amount of the wifi is literally magic) because there is no benefit to justify leaving such a massive security vulnerability in your cybernetics.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one particularly nonsensical episode of 7 Days (1998), an evil lovesick program manages to manipulate the knobs on a gas burner stove in an elaborate Murder the Hypotenuse. She also manages to disable every single nuclear weapon in the world. Apparently, not only are missile silos hooked up to the 'Net, but also every nuclear submarine and good old-fashioned plane-dropped bombs. Also, don't forget all those terrorist cells who somehow manage to build/steal a nuke. Apparently, the first thing they do is set up a wifi receiver.
  • The fourth season of 24 features a terrorist plot to simultaneously melt down every nuclear reactor in the US using a piece of Applied Phlebotinum that looks like an ordinary laptop computer in a fancy attache case.
    • Season 7 introduced us to the "CIP device", a widget somewhat resembling a PCI modem, which had the power to hack into air traffic control transmissions, remote control aircraft, cause chemical plants to go critical, and cause general havoc nationwide.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Framework gets enough processing power to simulate a perfect virtual world by stealing power from every computing device in the world simultaneously. Of course, it was created with the help of the Darkhold, which tends to laugh at physics.
  • Battlestar Galactica: The Cylons use this trope a lot. In some cases, it's justified as in the miniseries where the Colonies have allowed a Cylon infiltrator to write their military coding. Because of this, the Galactica herself (which was built during the first Cylon War) has absolutely no wireless connections at all. Phones have cords, gun turrets have a cockpit with a gunnery crew, and every single computer on the ship is isolated from every other computer on the ship. This is why the ship survived the initial attack when most modern ships were dead in the water due to sabotage. At one point, the Galactica's computers are networked together in order to increase efficiency when calculating an FTL jump, only for the Cylons to quickly hack into it, starting from the communications system. They are stopped by physically pulling the wires.
    Doral: [giving a tour] You'll see things here that look odd, even antiquated. Uh, antiquated to modern eyes, like phones with cords, awkward manual valves, computers that, well, barely deserve the name. It was all designed to operate against an enemy who could infiltrate and disrupt even the most basic computer systems. Galactica is a reminder of a time when we were so frightened by our enemies that we literally looked backward for protection.
  • Initially justified with the grumpy supercomputer Orac in Blake's 7. Orac's creator also designed the "Tarriel cells" that power all computers in the Federation, with the specific goal that Orac could remotely access them undetectably and unstoppably. How it also managed to control alien computers is not explained.
  • In the first-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "I Robot, You Jane", a demon is scanned out of the pages of an ancient book and into a file on a school computer. For the rest of the episode, he's considered "on the web", and bad things happen around the world because of "computer error". Giles and Buffy worry that the demon's presence on the web will give him the opportunity to meddle with traffic signals, destabilize the world's economies, and launch nuclear missiles.
  • On Caprica, Zoe Greystone creates an online AI avatar of herself and several other people not by copying their psyche, but by relying on information online such as medical records, security footage, etc. Noteworthy is the fact that Caprica in itself is neither our planet nor our present time, but it's a nice metaphor/warning/criticism of our reliance on technology and its possible consequences.
  • Class of '09: By 2034 in the US this has become the case, to the point that all cars now have connections to the Internet helping them drive (with police able to remotely stop them). Unfortunately, it also means they can be hacked and cars driven recklessly to injure or kill people remotely too.
  • In Criminal Minds there is very little information that Garcia can't find online even when there seems to be no plausible reason for that information to be in any type of searchable database or online at all.
  • In Cybergirl, the Cyber Replicants are able to interface with any computers simply by cocking their heads. This includes security systems, ATMs, electronic keyboards, TVs and school computers. Only one of which is usually online.
    • However, Cy's predecessor Alana (in The Girl from Tomorrow) has a wrist device that interfaced with any and all computers. In 1990.
  • Doctor Who:
  • In an episode of Flashpoint, the team's technical expert Spike notes that the criminals running an illegal casino made his job easy by using basic off-the-shelf wireless cameras for surveillance. He can easily access the system remotely and use the cameras to guide the team into the building.
    • Another time he is forced at gunpoint to hack into the security system of a police evidence warehouse. Apparently, every alarm in the building can be accessed remotely over the internet if you know the access codes.
  • Micah in Heroes embodies this trope with his ability to talk to machines.
  • In the second season of Homeland, the terrorists remotely access Vice President Walden's pacemaker and set it to a defibrillate test mode in order to give him a heart attack.
    • While many medical devices utilize NFC to allow reprogramming and even charging through the skin, there's no way to access them from more than a few inches away.
  • In the Inspector Morse episode "Masonic Mysteries", the villain is able to frame Morse by hacking into the police computer and altering his records. And he does all this from a prison terminal. After doing a computer course at prison.
    • The villain in question is Emperor Palpatine. As if those insignificant machines would dare to disobey...
  • JAG: In "Shadow", Grover claims to control the torpedo via his laptop and is able to set off various bombs he has concealed throughout the ship. It is lampshaded that the only way he is able to do this is because he arranged for extra pieces of equipment to be installed in the submarine while it was still under construction.
  • In Jake 2.0, Jake uses his symbiotic Nanomachines to move a new Cadillac sedan, noting that the car is computer-controlled. In fact, the show is full of cases of the nanites being used to hack things that shouldn't be remotely accessible, such as the pressure system in the pilot.
  • While often played straight, this is subverted at least as often on Leverage as Hardison typically needs physical access to hack into the target systems. However, the subversions generally only apply when it is important to the plot. When it is an element played for laughs, it is more likely to be this trope, one notable example is when Hardison easily hacks into the traffic cameras in London to spy on Nate. There is also an example where Hardison first meets Chaos, his Evil Counterpart. They face-off Wild West style, but with keyboards. Both start Rapid-Fire Typing, which somehow causes all the car alarms to go off near them. In the same episode, Hardison is smart enough to resort to using old tech to thwart Chaos, such as a hand-crank generator (i.e. unhackable).
  • Part of the host segments running through the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Starfighters" deals with Crow T. Robot being unable to get on the Internet, only succeeding at the end of the episode.
  • Amazingly averted once by NCIS: Los Angeles: when asked to do something about a security system, the team hacker points out that it isn't actually connected to the internet. Played straight most of the time otherwise, though.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: A Monster of the Week infects the Humongous Mecha with a virus... that is transmitted to the base, and somehow, to an android character who has never shown to have any actual connection to the base's computers (he's got to push buttons like everybody else - and in fact, wasn't even known to be an android until this incident!). This would have actually made perfect sense in some seasons (which have literal Magical Computers that are connected by the same mystical forces) but Overdrive is all tech. On the other hand, the virus was transmitted by a Magic Ninja...
  • Probe's "Computer Logic": Someone is able to turn televisions and radios on and off at will, Hack the Traffic Lights, and make neon lights explode. In the next half of the episode, it's revealed to be an Artificial Intelligence named Crossover, who has been given access to the power company and it is apparently able to control electronics by adjusting how much power is sent to them.
  • Second Chance (2016): Since he never really leaves his home, Otto is usually used as a problem-fixer by using his computer skills to manipulate technology miles away. He's been shown "hacking" into police cams, mechanical cranes, or anything else really if the plot requires it.
  • Subverted in the season 2 finale of Sherlock, "The Reichenbach Fall". Moriarty disables security at three major locations in London... using a phone app. According to him, all that is nothing more than a sales pitch to the highest bidder for said app — or rather, the code for the app. He even mentions casually hacking into any nuclear missile silo he chooses. However, this ends up being an elaborate bluff, as the app in question is simply something that sends a text to security people at the locations he 'breaks into', who have already been paid off. The "code" was a trick for the benefit of the Holmes brothers, and it works. Both Sherlock and Mycroft are convinced it's real. Moriarty was amused in Mycroft's case, but very disappointed that Sherlock also fell for it.
  • After Chloe's Flanderization in Smallville to become a mega hacker, she gains access to the Daily Planet's Magical Database and is able to find absolutely everything online.
  • Season 3 of Star Trek: Picard reveals that all ships in Starfleet are networked to each other; this gets taken to its logical conclusion on Frontier Day when Admiral Shelby debuts the new "Fleet Formation", allowing the entire fleet to function as one unit. This bites Starfleet in the ass hard when the Borg seize control of the fleet en masse; the only hope to save The Federation is an older, non-networked ship — the rebuilt Enterprise-D.
  • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad takes this to ridiculous levels; in one episode a "mega-virus monster" inside an alarm clock gives the main character a sequence of nightmares. Only the Rule of Funny lets one suspend disbelief.
    • Don't forget the pom-poms that were infected with a virus that uploaded whoever used them to the villain's computer. Ironically, the villain only wanted the cheerleader who owned them, but by the end of the episode, the entire school (including the lunch lady, the main character's little sister, and the entire football team) were screaming floppy disks hanging from his ceiling, which he found very annoying.
    • In one episode virus monster took over the wristwatch of one of the heroes, giving the villains control over her hand.
    • What about the episode in which the villain switched two of the heroes' voices by putting a virus into an electric keyboard with voice-recording capabilities?
    • Then there's the time the Big Bad developed a way to figure out the heroes' secret identities but needed more electronics for him to access in order to run the program, so how does he get it? He has his Dragon start a campaign to get everyone in town to put up Christmas lights.
    • Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad was made of this trope. One virus even turned the water into hydrochloric acid by doing something to the water department's computers. Note that this was the mid-'90s.
    • Most egregiously, the cooking timer. The wind-up cooking timer. There's nothing electronic about those, but that doesn't stop the Monster of the Week from driving Mrs. Starkey nuts.
    • It's less bad about this in the original Tokusatsu source material, Denkō Chōjin Gridman. Sometimes the scale or magnitude of the virus of the week is a bit high, but they never infect something that isn't at least plausibly computer-connected. That said the viruses do still cause electronic devices to do things that aren't physically possible like floating in the air.
  • Justified when the AI John Henry from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is able to control lights, elevators, and normal doors in the building where he is physically located, as it is explicitly stated that he has been linked into those systems at the behest of the company's owner. However, in a later episode, it is revealed that he has discovered how to tap telephones throughout California, at least.
  • Travelers is about a group of people who send their consciousness from the future to take over people in our present, to avert the Crapsack World that the future will become. To do this, they need to know precisely where their target is at a particular place and time. This means that they first start showing up in the early 21st century because not only is the world now full of cameras and cellphones but somehow all that data is recorded and still available even in the far future. Also in the spirit of this trope, the Big Bad of the final seasons integrates himself with an AI and then launches a nuclear apocalypse.
  • Vagabond (2019): Lily the assassin tries to kill Dae-gu by somehow hacking into his car's computer system, while Dal-gu is on the road, and remotely disabling the brakes.

  • The song "Virus Alert" by "Weird Al" Yankovic invokes this trope for laughs. The titular virus can not only do plausible things like erase your hard drive, make your iPod only play Jethro Tull, and "email your grandmother all of your porn", it can also tie up the phone lines with long-distance crank calls, set all your clocks back an hour, and even neuter your pets.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Champions, every motor vehicle in Millennium City is remotely controlled by a central computer. They never really discuss the implications of this.
  • Shadowrun is generally one of the usual suspects, though it does avert the trope on occasion. In 3rd edition, extra-sensitive systems were often offline or in a closed-circuit system, though "extra-sensitive" may or may not include the security of top-secret megacorp research labs. 4th and 5th edition still take the cake: almost all computers rely on wireless technology, meaning you don't even need a physical connection to your target to wreak havoc. Forget people's cars, start thinking about people's cyberware, which may include things like eyes or even the connection between their brain and their somatic nervous system — meaning that a good runner team needs a good decker or technomancer in order to safeguard their stuff from getting bricked or worse by Matrix attacks.
    • However the new "mesh" structure of the wireless matrix means that you need to be physically inside many corp facilities to hack their equipment. Many corps are also savvy enough to store their most vital information on servers that can only be physically accessed from computers with no matrix functionality (and delete the copies), meaning that there will occasionally be a need for the decker to physically access the server room.
    • Sixth World edition assumes that most runners will run their equipment and 'ware offline, but has a "wireless bonus" section in most equipment descriptions for when one wants to risk exposure to hacking.
  • Eclipse Phase has most everything connected by wireless mesh, including robot brains. Exsurgent technology goes farther, actually. You can hack someone's brain through their sensory input.
    • That said, the extremely paranoid Jovian Junta has all their government systems on a closed-loop wired network. And even the more reasonable Titanian Commonwealth has a hard-wire backup system in case of TITAN attack.
  • Mage: The Ascension features the Virtual Adepts, who believe this about... well, everything. More specifically, they believe in a blend of holographic theory and information theory that says all things are closer than anyone thinks, and affecting one variable can affect any number of others if one knows what they're doing.
  • Cyberpunk: Unbuilt Trope. One of the things that made Rache Bartmoss decide to destroy the Internet was the sheer number of things that were accessible online but had no business being online. Things he found that he could control from home included airlocks on orbital stations and the mass driver the ESA used to send spaceships from the Moon to Earth, so he had a point. Just for reference, this game was published a mere six years after the first appliance was connected to a computer (a bunch of nerds at Carnegie-Mellon hooked up their vending machine with sensors that could check available beverages and their temperature, and connected those to the computer lab via ARPANET) and three years before the term "ubiquitous computing" was coined.

    Video Games 
  • The basic premise of Mega Man Battle Network. In some optional missions, escaped viruses make their way into action figures and electronic keyboards. Even the Mafia operates online.
    • The premise of MegaMan NT Warrior (2002), the anime version of the above game series, is naturally founded upon this trope as well. The first episode demonstrates this by showing that a kitchen oven is connected to the internet, and its self-cleaning devices are regulated through it.
    • Also occasionally averted. While many unlikely things are connected to the internet such as Mayl's piano and Miyuki's mirror (which may just be PCs designed to look like these things), there are many devices like cars, TVs, vending machines and major public works like the water treatment plant that are not online, despite being computer-controlled and must be jacked into manually.
    • The trope continues in the spiritual successor, Mega Man Star Force, and it's taken to such ridiculous levels that you can find EM wave spaces in medieval crowns, sunken galleon masts, rocks, and even rotisserie chicken, and that's just in 2.
  • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the Sega CD game Panic!, where a computer virus infects the World Central Network, and every machine in the world, including vending machines, vehicles, elevators, and countless other objects, starts going haywire in indescribably bizarre ways. This makes substantially more sense than the rest of the game.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent has a sequence where a character hacks into some slot machines and makes them start spewing money as a distraction. To make it worse, those slot machines are on a cruise ship at sea.
    • However in the previous Splinter Cell games, averting this was the whole reason for Third Echelon's existence: Sam Fisher is only sent in to infiltrate the facilities that can't be breached by electronic means. One mission in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has Grim try to hack a bank's network, only to discover that they unplug their hard drives every night before sending Sam in.
      "Crazy world we live in where physical intrusion is less of a threat than electronic intrusion."
  • A major plot point in the .hack series is that everything is connected to the world wide web and, moreover, is connected by reliance on some variant of the single operating system that survived a catastrophic network virus disaster called Pluto's Kiss. This means everything from nuclear reactors to traffic light programs to heart monitors is somehow wired together.
    • Pluto's Kiss, only referenced as Back Story, was said to have crashed every operating system that it could connect to, save for one, which means that it could have easily crashed the whole Internet, brought the stock market to a screeching halt, and disabled all military systems. Ironically, the solution to the problem could only lead to an even greater disaster for the exact same reason.
    • In the first four games, this software standardization is utilized by the MMO, The World, to facilitate an ever-growing database of human personality observations designed to create the Ultimate AI, cutting into real-world systems to allocate memory and processing power. As the controlling software - Morganna Gone Mode - suffers from its own Logic Bomb, fragments itself into eight components, and then each of those components is destroyed, the systems it has hacked into begin breaking down and can not be recovered due to the nature of the overriding program. The stress is relieved when Aura, the Ultimate AI, is finally completed and she re-stabilizes the whole of the system. Then improves the system.
    • In the second group of games, the inherent human-based AI producing software comes full circle and manages to bite the human operators in the butt in the form of AIDA, essentially the leftovers of Aura, multiple free-radical programs that affect players' minds directly through their neural headsets. Then, when the AIDA situation is resolved, a second Cubia appears in response to the re-activation of parts of the original Morganna program. And it tries to perform garbage collection on the whole of the affected systems, i.e., the whole network and everything connected to it.
    • Interestingly, reading the news reports on the outside world in the games shows that there are, in fact, plenty of people who see the problem with the system, and are trying to break ALTIMIT OS's monopoly on the world's computers. The problem is that most people who lived through "Pluto's Kiss" are so convinced that ALTIMIT is invulnerable to viruses (and for the most part it is, only sentient AI's have been able to harm it), that they're unwilling to take a chance on anything else.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey takes place in a future in which, indeed, pretty much everything is online. The mysterious network failures known as "The Static" have even resulted in fatal car accidents, and, indeed, one the things you get to hack during the game is a car. It's specifically stated that it's illegal to own and operate a device that averts this trope, or even use a cell phone that lacks the government monitoring software. It's stated that the reason for that is to avoid another Collapse (which had nothing to do with that anyway).
  • In Outlive instead of the human spies who do operations for the player on a set budget and have a training time if they get captured and killed, the robots pay money to create expendable viruses that are used in certain quantities for certain missions. These can be used for everything to scouting an area of pristine wilderness and sabotage, to redirecting ICBMs.
  • In Alpha Prime, one of the major gameplay mechanics is a device which can remotely hack into and control cameras, doors, pressure valves, vehicle loaders, sentry guns, and proximity mines. The game lampshades this trope when your Mission Control, who hacks into pretty much everything else, says about opening a window, "Anything can be opened from a console when you have a real pro on the job."
  • Used as a plot point in Final Fantasy XIII: The Big Bad controls the internet, and lets the party shop through secure channels that the military doesn't know about in order to fuel his plan to turn them into Super Soldiers and help destroy humanity. He even taunts you about this whenever you go shopping later in the game.
  • Played straight in MindJack where due to advances in cybernetics by the huge corporations nearly everything and everyone is online.
  • Averted in Deus Ex twice. One mission involves getting an allied AI access to military internet systems. At the end of the game Deus est Machina Helios get its power because people willingly follow it instead of the corrupt leaders currently in power. It can at most "change some codes and turn off a couple lights" on its own.
  • Project Eden: Lucy hacked into a police computer and get her sister sent to the cities underground, so she can steal her body.
  • Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs uses this as a central premise. Taking place in a post-2003 Northeast Blackout alternate present version of Chicago, the government now has their hand in every electronic device (phones, computers, and even things like ATMs and traffic lights) in the city and all interconnected to a centralized network called the "CtOS". This is both a blessing and a curse for the city, as protagonist Aiden Pearce (pictured above) is able to take advantage of this widespread network by hacking in and screwing around with the system in order to prevent crimes, save lives, and generally dole out vigilante justice.
  • Downplayed in Gunpoint. Everything within a single building is on the same circuit, which is controlled by software. The gameplay revolves around a phone mod that lets the player character hack the software to rewire the circuit (e.g. making a light switch open a door that normally uses a handprint scanner). Most buildings also have multiple circuits, and the electronics on one circuit cannot interact with ones on another.
    • If the character purchases a separate mod, even guns can be put on this system, resulting in situations where firing a gun will instead turn the lights off, or triggering a motion detector will fire a gun.
  • Subverted in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. The villain is able to hack the US drone defense network using a rare earth metal device, but only after breaking into and accessing the server on a US carrier. Played straight afterward when he is able to control EVERY drone the US has, and even take over public utility facilities.
  • Rhys from Tales from the Borderlands can hack into all sorts of Hyperion tech with his Echo-Eye. In episode 2 he can either hack into Vasquez's car or his shotgun.
  • Ghost in the Shell: First Assault Online seems to use this as part of its premise. Every character in the game uses a full cyberbody, including flesh-and-blood Togusa. The matches start off with you initiating a net dive, you wait for the maps to load up, guns that are dropped on the ground have a digital field over them, and body parts digitally appear and disappear. Chief Aramaki occasionally makes mention of the network being too tough to secure when you lose, and the Tachikoma always says "Beginning Cyberbrain Protocol" when it is summoned onto the map. Everything seems to indicate that all the fighting takes place online, which isn't out of the question for this series.
  • Parodied in Pharaoh Rebirth. The protagonist's friend is an American hacker whose abilities are very helpful to him, and a couple times are represented as mini-games. The protagonist becomes dependent on him and later asks him to hack stuff that gets him stuck, such as an ancient electric elevator and... a gap in the floor.
  • In Xenosaga, through the UMN, all of reality is online and hackable, and bodies, souls, and data are somewhat interchangeable.
  • In Cyberpunk 2077, a combination of this and a world where just about everyone has swapped out some of their standard body parts for cybernetic equivalents means that a skilled netrunner can easily turn off people's eyes, or make them put a gun to their heads and pull the trigger.
  • In Hacknet, this trope is very much in effect, including a pacemaker in one of the game's final missions. However, the Final Boss is a backup server that's designed to be kept offline save for periodic online update checks - the Featureless Protagonist only gets a shot at wiping troublesome data off it because another hacker forces the server to make such an update check and pipes the connection over to the Player Character.

    Visual Novels 
  • Invoked by the protagonist of Double Homework after he discovers the hidden cameras on the yacht. Even after he throws the server that (he thinks) contains all compromising pictures overboard, he discourages the girls from confronting or antagonizing Dennis too much, because he suspects that Dennis already has the pictures stored on one of his devices at home.
  • In Invisible Apartment, the government's desire to make everything secure and controllable has led to this, creating unnecessary vulnerabilities in the name of safety. For example, Kacey has a real chance of getting into the government's central databases simply by hacking a café's payment processing system, because that's connected to the tax authorities (to avoid cheating) and the tax authority databases are linked to every other kind of record.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The obscure property Computer Warriors was about a team of anthropomorphized viruses, and the anthropomorphized antivirus software sent to hunt them down, escaping into the real world and continuing their battle. First off, they were accidentally created by a secret government supercomputer, but emerged from cyberspace via some random kid's bedroom computer (this was circa 1989, before regular people using the internet was even close to being a thing). Not only that, the anthropomorphized programs are able to interface with everyday objects and turn them into combat vehicles. Even things with no electronics whatsoever, like books and cans of Pepsi.
  • Darkwing Duck: In "Star-Crossed Circuits", D-2000 can control anything electronic, including the Ratcatcher and the Thunderquack. Once she gets mad at Darkwing, she hacks his public records to sic people on him.
  • The most wonderful example of this would be Inspector Gadget's niece Penny's Computer Book. In a time when the first laptop computers were just being released, hers could break into anything to help her Uncle Gadget.
  • Also applies to XANA's attacks in Code Lyoko, although this is partially explained away — the inky black "spectres" are apparently capable of wiring up any electronic device, inanimate object, or even human being, as desired.
    • Jérémie also manages to hack about anything with the Supercomputer, including military databases.
  • In an episode of the old Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) cartoon, a virus causes everything to work for Dr. Wily. Even phone cords. And toasters. And sofas. In fact, the objects he controls act in ways they couldn't possibly in normal life, like street lamps strangling people. Half of the objects didn't even use electricity, like a push lawnmower and an exercise bike and he controlled all those appliances all at the same time with just a joystick.
  • Justified in Futurama: Mom had designed things that way so that she could eventually Take Over the World.
  • The Simpsons: Parodied in "Treehouse of Horror X". Homer's workstation falling victim to the Millennium Bug causes everything to rebel, including pacemakers, electric shavers, and cartons of milk.
  • In the cartoon series The Batman, a Digital Advanced Villain Emulator (D.A.V.E) program "escapes" through the power cord of his computer, into a manufacturing factory, knocks out a worker by firing electricity through the keyboard and then reprograms the factory to build him a body.
    • Earlier in the series, The Riddler hacks into a computer system and is somehow able to remote-operate a crane at a construction site.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Shear Strength". Dr. Octopus hacks into and controls satellites, cell phone GPS locators, street lights, even a coffee shop cash register all because they have computers. However, his big plan is to get some Homeland Security codes, which are on a closed network; to get those, he has to kidnap Gwen so that he can blackmail Captain Stacy.
  • In Static Shock, a disgruntled technician builds a helmet that allows her to uplink her consciousness to the Internet in the form of the ultimate worm virus. Not only can she connect to things that shouldn't be online, but she can also take anything that has a computer in it and use that fact to access functions the computer itself couldn't, such as driving cars by accessing "the onboard computer systems", which should really just consist of a GPS or something. Now, given that she chose to pull this gimmick against an electricity-themed hero and his supergenius sidekick, she doesn't last very long — she gets taken out with antivirus software which winds up feeding back through the helmet and pretty much rendering her catatonic. The repercussions are never discussed.
  • Acknowledged in ReBoot: Daemon can't infect systems that don't have a connection to the net. Interestingly, you can use Portals to access said systems.
  • In one episode of the 1980s animated The Incredible Hulk, an evil computer starts taking over the world through the electric power lines. All manner of small appliances, including electric razors and pop-up toasters, start flying around and attacking people.
  • Charlie Strap and Froggy Ball Flying High (original name "Kalle Stropp och Grodan Boll på svindlande äventyr"), a 1991 Swedish animated feature film, had this as a key part of the villains' plot. They have a floppy disk with a program on it that allows them to hack into the government's computers as easily as pressing a few buttons, which they will use to give themselves permission to move a historical castle to the main characters' forest and re-build it into a hyper-modern hotel. Apparently, the program can also edit the government's non-digital records... though that might just be the villains being idiots and assuming this trope to be in effect.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Internet," Gumball and Darwin attempt to reach their destination, but the titular Internet hacks into pedestrian crossing signals, police databases, and even a fire hydrant to impede their progress. There's so much technology everywhere that they resort to going through the technology-free park instead.
  • In The Magic School Bus one of the kids writes a computer program to do all of the school opening tasks such as make coffee, open the doors, and raise the flag on the flagpole. Many viewers note the kids spent longer doing that then fixing their mistakes than if they just did all the tasks themselves.
    • Keep in mind, outside of the obviously-supernatural elements, this episode's events are actually pretty believable nowadays, unlike when it first came out. Networked coffee makers and Internet-connected door locks are widely available. Motorized flag poles are also a thing, though they aren't as common. These days, it's pretty easy to imagine a computer-savvy elementary school student noticing various underused "smart" devices throughout a school, and offering to set them up to make things easier for the staff. Then again, it would be more common to program each device individually with its own microcontroller rather than running everything to a single seemingly-ordinary desktop computer, which would be a security nightmare just waiting to happen.

    Real Life 
  • As uptake of the internet has increased, and particularly the advent of "always-on" broadband internet connections, as well as the increasing importance of the internet for many areas of everyday life, this trope is pretty much true in real life as regards personal computing. This has, of course, brought with it security problems- whilst at any point up until the mid-to-late '90s having a virus checker for your home PC was maybe a good idea but still only optional and hacking/cracking was something that only happened to large organizations, nowadays the very idea of not having anti-virus, firewall and other security software installed on your system is unthinkable.
  • Networked devices that have no reason for being that way were recently pointed out as a massive security problem in office environments, as in this case of a net-enabled, self-updating coffee maker (?!?). Not only can a sufficiently grief-minded hacker execute a "denial of coffee attack" by remotely screwing with the boiler temperature or the grounds:water ratio, but the control program has to be run on an XP box somewhere on the coffee maker's LAN, which effectively opens a back door onto that machine, and from there into the entire network. Oops!
    • Even the power grid is onlineusing default or no passwords. Not to mention traffic lights and nuclear plants.
    • One can also connect a Wifi-equipped interceptor device into a private and secure network, then spy on that unit, and consequently the network, over an internet connection. In fact, this is the way most viruses work, exchanging "device" for "program."
    • It seems a lot of executives at tech companies insist on making their products Internet-enabled, whether it makes sense or not, simply because the Internet is the "latest" thing.
    • This and many other examples on this page fall under a trend called the "Internet of Things" with the idea being that if all of your appliances are smart, they can do things like, say, putting on your cup of coffee for you while you're showering or turning on the AC for you when your phone GPS notices you're heading home.
  • Sites like Wikidata, Quaero, the Internet Archive and of course, Wikipedia are vast repositories of knowledge that are entirely online, and are arguably the closest expressions to the idea of the Great Big Library of Everything (aka the “universal library”). There is also the Library of Alexandria app, which uses similar tech to the Internet Archive to gather millions of documents and books online (numbering over 30 million in 2020). The collection somehow includes a poorly hidden trove of old Russian passports.
  • MIT's web-enabled drink machines, and others along those lines.
    • Vending machines are actually worth putting online. It allows the operating company to check on their status remotely, and only dispatch service personnel when needed, rather than having to schedule them more frequently to ensure there aren't outages. This saves significant money and/or time. (If you're a service person who gets paid according to how large a number of machines you cover, you don't want to have to visit each machine more often than you need to since that reduces the number of machines you can cover.) It also gives the option of credit card readers, since more and more people are avoiding "hard" money whenever possible.
  • Then there was the Polish kid who modified a TV remote to hack into the Lodz tram system and control it.
  • There are also actually some limited versions of this technology in existence now, or under research, but they are usually passive in nature. EMESCAT systems, which have existed since the Cold War, are designed to remotely gather information (such as, say, reading what's on your CRT computer monitor) from the electromagnetic radiation given off by a computer. This generally takes the form of a sensitive EM sensor near the computer in question, such as in a van across the street, or the other side of a hotel wall. Superconducting Quantum Interface Devices (also called SQUIDs), are similar devices. These latter would generally depend on direct physical connections to the computer, but ranged versions have been proposed.
    • TEMPEST and all manner of passive and active sensing systems have existed for a while. Similarly, the old-school UK TV detector vans (if they really existed) used simple tricks to spot even televisions that had been turned off and unplugged (less useful nowadays with vastly more pervasive use of electronics). However, reading your screen or your keystrokes from across the road is not in the same ballpark as reading the same information from anywhere in the world. There have been documented cases of highly effective electronic warfare (such as the Israeli strike on a Syrian 'nuclear facility' in September 2007) but these are, once again, done using in-theatre devices and not by some hackers with a net connection somewhere else in the world. Hacking local devices remotely is not even slightly the same game as hacking arbitrary devices via the internet.
  • Cloud Computing: It's the future! (TM)
  • Irregularities with voting machines in the 2006 American election were blamed on McAfee anti-virus software by the company that made them. Why voting machines would need anti-virus software- or to be hooked up to the internet at all- is a troubling concept, as this xkcd strip points out.
    • There was also controversy over this issue in 2020 as Trump claimed a security vulnerability in Dominion voting machines was used to tamper with election results. However, the security vulnerability that was initially reported was for a different machine made by the same manufacturer and even then required physical access to the machine to take advantage of. And later audits of paper ballots (kept precisely for this purpose) demonstrated there was no widespread fraud.
    • Modern voting machines in general have poor security. Several voting machine manufacturers, including Dominion, have acknowledged that at least some of their machines have built in modems which are connected to cell phone networks which can connect to the internet. And though voting machines are not designed to be connected to the internet, independent security researchers have found several cases where voting systems were indeed connected to the internet.
  • There's a bit of a kerfluffle over the hard drives in networked copiers; they are never properly disposed of and tend to keep all sorts of documents on it. This is, of course, a security breach.
  • Some departments of at least some governments are smart enough to keep two (or possibly more) distinct networks: one that contains all the classified data and isn't connected to anything outside, and another network that does connect to the outside and on which nothing sensitive is permitted to be. Occasionally, cases from these isolated networks turn up in recyclers' hands, including their prominent notices about the system being only allowed to be connected to the isolated network. Given that the government of Canada does do this, and the above reference to the hard drive destruction hardware, one can presume the hard drives are disposed of properly.
  • While your car isn't technically "online," its onboard navigation and security suite (like OnStar) is. While this hasn't been maliciously abused, some hackers with a laptop over a bridge have managed to engage the brakes and disable the engine in rush hour traffic.
  • Tractors of today are highly sophisticated affairs that query online databases to synch data regarding how to plant crops. An apocalyptic food shortage months from now would be precipitated by someone playfully setting seed and planting depths to ungrowable levels today.
  • #2 of this Cracked list features Internet hunting. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • There's now a Japanese luxury toilet that can be controlled remotely via a Bluetooth connection and an Android phone app. Unfortunately, every Satis toilet has the same unchangeable password...
  • Many video game consoles and handhelds today use a lot of features that require the user to keep a constant internet connection, even if the device is turned off (though nowadays many electronics are put in standby mode). While a user can choose to disable their internet connection if they really want to play without being forced to connect online, you will get gimped out of several features and services that require an internet connection in the first place. Your console/handheld doesn't send out sensitive information so there's usually no worry about being hacked through your game console. Having games and systems that need constant internet connections can greatly annoy people whose internet services are ruled by a bandwidth cap.
    • However, since video game consoles now feature built-in features that allow digital copies of games to be purchased and downloaded, they have the issue of credit card information being stored and transmitted.
    • Many mobile games, most notably Gacha Games, mandate a connection to a central server to play, in order to validate your super-super-rare gacha pulls and to enforce game updates and removal of content (e.g. due to expiring licenses for collaboration content), even if the game is exclusively a single-player game. Not only does this mean that loss of online connection will prevent you from playing the game, but once the game's servers close down, the game is gone for good. This is one of the more major criticisms that older gamers who grew up in a time before non-multiplayer video games needed online connections have with mobile gaming; you can play your favorite SNES games 50 years from now, but many gacha games can't even make it 10 years before having the plug pulled.
  • Not content with keeping it cool for us, fridges are now apparently sending spam.
  • Even your phone conversations aren't safe these days, and not just from the NSA: as the News International phone-hacking scandal demonstrated. Certain newspapers (including the defunct News of the World) had been hacking into the voicemail accounts of everyone from missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler to the victims of the 7/7 London bombings to the Royal Family.
  • Car brakes hacked remotely.
  • One somewhat disturbing example comes from the fact that even a computer that is "air-gapped" can potentially be hacked through audio signals. That is that the speakers of two different computers can communicate at ultrahigh-frequency that cannot be detected by people. This is not to mention computer viruses like Stuxnet that specifically targeted systems that were off the internet and transmitted through USB drives.
  • That "Internet of Things" mentioned further up in this section? Yeah, that was responsible for a late-October 2016 massive Denial of Service attack. A major internet infrastructure company servicing numerous large sites was attacked by a massive botnet made up not of infected computers, but by remote-access cameras and DVRs. The future is now and your toaster may soon be plotting against you.
  • Forget toasters, add SexBots to the list of things that may be hackable and subsequently try to kill you, as described here.
  • Nuclear reactors make a special point of averting this with their controls and displays, which are still entirely analogue. Some facilities don't even let employees bring their phones into the control room for fear they could be used to spy maliciously.
  • This trope was the root of an early 2021 cyberattack on a water treatment plant in Florida, and played out in a disturbingly Hollywood-like fashion that's renewed discussion regarding the wisdom of this trope in real life. In short, the plant utilized a common industrial desktop sharing app that allows credentialed users to remotely access and control the various computers that run the plant. This is extremely useful in tracking down both physical and IT issues in often convoluted municipal or factory systems, and in allowing emergency adjustments at 3am without having to be directly at the computer. It also, however, was the reason a fortunately attentive plant operator watched his cursor begin clicking through menus and adjust the sodium hydroxide levels to 1000 times safe levels. While the problem was quickly and easily fixed in this case, it also indicates that this trope can easily become Truth in Television as systems like this become increasingly commonplace.
  • Common household items like televisions, refrigerators, and thermostats are being made with the ability to connect to the internet so they can be accessed remotely or give consumers more features. While quite rare, it is possible for these internet ready items to be hijacked by a malicious person or group if they get a hold of your account related to the items. One family experienced someone taking control of their smart devices and did things like raising the thermostat to very high temperatures and taunted them through the speakers of the security cameras.
  • There have been instances of chastity devices being hooked up to the internet and eventually hacked into, locking some unfortunate individuals out of their own "equipment".
  • Sex toys can get hacked, aside from the remote sexual assault possibility by taking control of the device while in use, it can be used to steal user images and videos.

Anything and everything
And anything and everything
And anything and everything
And all of the time


Video Example(s):


"It's all about streaming."

Luz and King end up losing the race, but Eda tells King to just livestream his message to his father on Pentstagram instead, saying that "nobody uses crystal balls anymore".

How well does it match the trope?

3.11 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / EverythingIsOnline

Media sources: