Wednesday night's episode of CSI: Cyber is called “Fire Code.” Fire codes are safety regulations related to fires. Pretty simple. But the “code” here could also refer computer code. It’s a double meaning. There’s so much going on already, and that’s just the title!
Our episode begins with a chase scene. Agent Elijah Mundo (still a great name) chases after a black-hat informant named Rusty. Online, his alias is RU5TYN41L, presumably because he thinks that it is still 1998.
Rusty eventually gets cornered and hands over “a hot new piece of code.” Ryan and Mundo eye the USB flash drive like it’s a bomb. Rusty warns them “to be careful where you stick it.” That’s a sex joke. I don’t have time to explain it, but it’s definitely a sex joke. The FBI agents definitely get the joke.
They take the drive back to HQ and plug in the flash drive, only to find out that it contains printer firmware. Krumitz installs the firmware and subsequently causes their printer to combust.
Ryan and Sifton are very surprised by this.
Agent Ryan sums it up: “It’s terrifying. Someone figured out how to set a fire through the internet.” That is terrifying!
Ryan and Mundo head to Louisville to check out a similar fire. And then, something amazing happens. Here’s the source code for the malicious firmware:
If you can’t read it, the code is just very basic HTML, the same type of code all web pages are made with. But the incredible thing is that this code — meant as a stand-in for firmware source code — is literally just the Wikipedia entry for the concept of firmware. You can actually see the footnote citation code.
Fantastic work. In case you thought CSI wasn’t phoning it in before, it’s now cut-and-pasting from Wikipedia. Like a ninth-grader.
While Agent Mundo reads Wikipedia (again, literally!), Ryan grills the arson victim on her Wi-Fi security. “How elaborate is your Wi-Fi password? … It’s as important as the lock on your front door.” Not really, but okay!
Agent Nelson goes to visit his former black-hat hacker buddies, both of whom abide by Hacker Union rules of replacing as many letters as possible with numbers.
The team tracks an IP to one Donald O’Hare, and Agent Ryan cuts right to the chase. “You know what I’m thinking, Donald?” she asks. “You’re a pyromaniac compelled to start fires for sexual gratification.” This accusation is never really expanded upon.
Donald claims to have received the code elsewhere, “from a user named J-U–5-T-U–5.” And because everyone on this show started using the internet last week, he explains further: “But in leet speak, numbers are letters, so it spells out …”
“Justice.” Whoooooaaaaaa!!!!!! The. Numbers. Are. Letters. This case just cracked wide open.
To make things worse, Nelson admits that this malicious code is based off of work he did in his black-hat days.
And to make matters even worse … someone is using it to attack a college.
Nelson heads over to the skate park to meet another black hat, the guy who turned him over to the Feds.
M3TA claims he doesn’t remember talking to JU5TU5. “Names blend together. You know how many hackers are using leet speak now.” Leet speak has not been a new thing for, like, two decades.
Later on, the FBI receives a video message from JU5TU5 demanding $10 million, or else he will hack another device to spontaneously combust. The video looks like it was produced by Hot Topic.
Nelson and Krumitz engage in an artful hacking montage to find out which devices JU5TU5 is going to attack.
Unfortunately, Nelson realizes that his buddy M3TA is also JU5TU5. They meet up, and M3TA offers him part of the ransom. Nelson turns it down because he is a good person now, or, as he says, “a cybersnitch.” M3TA gets arrested and the day is saved.
So ends this week’s episode of CSI: Cyber. Everything with a Wi-Fi connection will eventually burn down your home.
Anyway, here are some GIFs of James Van Der Beek cop-sliding over stuff.