Hacking into Watch Dogs: Interview with a Hacker

by Andrew Charlton

Watch Dogs 2 is right on the horizon. The sequel to what some have called as a Grand Theft Auto clone, while attempting something else entirely. The story of a hacker, not a gangster. This iteration strives to take it further, with a greater emphasis on hacking, attempting to simulate the real thing.

I had the chance to speak with White Hat Hacker and Watch Dogs 2 spokesperson Chris Gatford. A white-hat is someone hired by companies to test security systems and find flaws, whereas a grey hat does it for fun. Finally a black hat does it for all the wrong reasons.

Think of it as Star Wars. White hats are Jedi, Black hats are Sith, grey hats are smugglers.

Chris says he’s excited for Watch Dogs 2. A lot of people might think it’s a bit fanciful, but he says that many of the techniques and over-the-top hacks we see in the game are ones he uses and sees often in the real world.

Watch Dogs 2 follows on from the first, diving into Dedsec, a hacking group who were minor characters in the previous game. We step into the boots of Marcus, a professional hacker ‘Dedsec’ (Get it?) on bringing down Ctos 2.0, a security system that’s taken autonomy from the people of San Francisco.

Marcus accomplishes this with gun-play and parkour, but more importantly hacking. With only a phone and laptop there’s little he can’t accomplish. Changing traffic lights, shutting down buildings, hacking into enemy systems, unlocking doors, taking control of cars, the list goes on. You can accomplish entire missions without leaving your laptop.

Chris thinks while Marcus may be able to do things a lot faster than your average punter, none of the hacks he does are outside the realm of possibility. Raising parking ballasts, changing traffic lights, controlling lifts, these are all easily done things once you’ve gained access to the relevant system.

Chris explains why as a hacker Marcus, and Aiden (former series protagonist) so often have to sneak into places. Once you gain physical access to a computer system, Chris says it’s only a matter of time before one is discovered. Although in his line of work he, at most could hop a fence. Parkouring isn’t usual for an actual hacker.

Chris hopes that Watch Dogs 2 will make people ask, ‘is it this easy?’ ‘is it this fun?’, ‘can I really do all this crazy stuff?’ The answer to all those questions, is yes.

Watch Dogs 2 comes out November 15th on Xbox One, PC and PS4.

Header from ubi.com
Video from youtube.com/ubisoft

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