This week’s episode of CSI: Cyber is called “The Evil Twin.” That’s a fine name, but as we’ll see later, it could have just as easily been titled “The Poop Phone.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
A hotel in New York City believes that their network’s been hacked. To make matters worse, it’s a hotel adjacent to the U.N., so a lot of foreign dignitaries are at risk. “We could be looking at a ‘dark hotel’ scenario,” explains Agent Mundo. Well, he doesn’t really explain anything — “Dark Hotel” just sounds spooky.
So the team heads to New York, the city that never sleeps. At the Kirkendahl Hotel, Agent Ryan says that guests could be hacked through malware posing as legit software updates. For instance, this update to Treble Flash Play, being installed on a computer that appears to be running Microsoft Bob:
This is how hotel viruses work:
The hotel’s lawyer is worried because many of their guests use aliases, such as these:
It makes no sense. These are obviously the names of famous cartoon characters! (From the 1950s and ’60s, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.) They might as well just make a reservation under John Q. Fakename, who lives at 123 Fake Street.
The situation gets worse when they discover that the security footage has been wiped. Also important is that Adele Foster, one of the guests, has been murdered.
Investigators recover the victim’s cell phone in the plumbing, indicating that the killer tried to destroy her phone. The show reenacts this, inadvertently giving us CSI: Cyber in microcosm.
That’s it. That’s the whole show. CSI: Cyber: Smash your phone and throw it in the toilet because technology is bad.
According to hotel records, Foster somehow kept ordering room service even after she died. The plot thickens.
This week’s word of the week is hospitality hack. In past weeks, the show has seen fit to poorly define actual hacking terminology. Now it’s just making up terms.
It turns out the hackers used a virus embedded in a fake party email to hack the network, which finally gives Sifter an excuse to deliver this soliloquy that’s clearly been in his back pocket for a while.
“Y’know, it was the Trojans themselves that opened up the city gates and pulled the horse inside. Just like the hotel employees, who opened a party invitation and let in the malware. While they blindly celebrated victory, their enemy lay in wait. And Troy fell.”
Krumitz gets it.
Nelson’s not so sure.
Ramirez, Krumitz, and Nelson explain how everything in the hotel room was controlled via a central computer. They demonstrate by hacking the TV, thermostat, and remote-controlled curtains. “Nelson, are you really doing that?” asks Ryan. “Did you actually hack this hotel?”
Krumitz tells Nelson to investigate the phone that got flushed down the toilet. Nelson accurately refers to this as “The Poop Phone.” He also smells it, as any good detective might.
The team eventually tracks down a suspect, Evan, whose cell-phone data appears to place him at the scene of the crime. That data includes some very unsexy sexts.
Time for a montage! Nelson cleans off the poop phone!
Krumitz reconstructs the poop phone.
It turns out all of the data tying Evan to the crime was faked. For someone who constantly espouses that “Everything can be hacked,” Agent Ryan seems to have forgotten the No. 1 rule: “Everything can be hacked.”
The team runs through a number of hypothetical methods for planting fake info on someone’s cell phone. Maybe Evan got tricked into going to yougethacked.com.
Maybe they hacked Evan at a coffee shop by using an “evil twin” router. Here is Nelson’s hacker face.
It turns out the real culprit is the victim’s abusive boyfriend. He puts on his best murder face and goes to kill Evan.
Agent Mundo manages to get there just in time, however. A chase ensues, and for a fleeting moment, we see James Van Der Beek contemplating what has become of his life.
With the suspect in custody, the team finds its smoking gun on the culprit’s motion-tracking chip. By syncing up his movements with their victims, they are able to reenact the fight.
It is very silly, but I’m also pretty sure it is the first real show of ingenuity that CSI: Cyber has demonstrated yet. That’s a good sign! It also gives us a fight scene between two people with glowing crotches.
Sure! Case closed! Bye.