Netflix Black Mirror is a contemporary reworking of the “Twilight Zone” with stories that integrate the innovative aspects of technology with the darkest sides of humans. The show is famous for evoking pure distress among the viewers within minutes into any episode.
Charlie Brooker creates a different world in every story, a world that is disturbing and paranoid. A taut world where technology has not brought out the worst in people, but only magnified it.
One horrifying episode Black mirror s03e03, Shut up and Dance is a story that revolves around a withdrawn Kenny. Kenny stumbles into an online trap and is at the mercy of unknown people for his reputation. An antivirus tool on installation activates Kenny’s webcam and records him while visiting adult sites. Distraught, Kenny heads to his window to see the person who’s seen him, only to realize the surveillance is on his own desk. The people behind the webcam ask Kenny to send his phone number or they’ll leak the video to all his contacts in his email. Kenny hyperventilates and does what they ask. The episode in progress reveals more people in desperation, trying to do everything the bad guys are asking them for. All this just to cover their shame.
The most uneasy thing about this episode is that the story does not need to take place in future with much more intricate technology. Shut up and Dance is actually a reality.
Here is an article on why and how we should cover our webcams.
Black Mirror S03e03 Shut up and Dance Reality:
Ransoc, a combination of browser locker and ransomware, targets users who visit adult sites. Unlike most ransomware that encrypts users’ files and asks for a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin to decrypt them. Ransoc scans users’ local files downloaded through torrents on the victim’s pc whose names are associated with child pornography. They then threaten them with a fake legal proceeding until they pay a ransom. The tool also gathers victim’s information through their social media profiles. This gives them the proof that everyone in their social circle will know about their illegal activities.
Most encrypting ransomware like Locky, locks users’ browsers and blocks them from accessing their underlying operating systems or closing the browser window. But Ransoc does something different. It displays a counterfeit “Penalty Notice” offering that the victim can “settle the case out of court”. The tool lists down the pornographic material found on the victim’s computer and asks them to pay a ransom to avoid crucial consequences.
The interesting thing about Ransoc is that it asks for payment through a credit card. The victims have enough to hide and would not seek law enforcement for justice. They cannot ask for law enforcement help as it would prove their crimes.