In the movie Live Free or Die Hard, when introducing the main villain, a hacker by the name of Thomas Gabriel, the character named Warlock who is also a hacker, says this to John McClane and his sidekick to express Gabriel's proficiency as a hacker:

and, with just a laptop, hacks into NORAD and shuts down our defence network. So they put a gun to the man's head and forced him to stop the hack. Thomas Gabriel's the guy who shut down NORAD with a laptop just to prove a point.

why is there an emphasis on the laptop part? is it really more impressive that he hacked into that organization with a laptop instead of a regular PC?

  • 1
    in '07 half the world still thought dialup was cool, & laptops even cooler. Time moves swiftly on.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 2 '18 at 17:27

Laptops are (generally speaking, anyway) less powerful machines than desktops, with less room for additional components such as memory and GPUs etc.

A lot of hacking involves brute-forcing password, which is where the attacking machine guesses a huge number of passwords in an attempt to gain access to the system. This can use up a lot of system resource.

That Thomas Gabriel was able to break in with only a laptop is supposed to be an indicator of his skill level.

  • 3
    Presumably it also means he didn't need to use specialized hacking hardware or social engineering tricks. To take down something the size of NORAD; you would expect a large organized group of hackers with extreme hardware.
    – JMac
    Feb 2 '18 at 18:40
  • 2
    And it may have not been contrasting laptop to desktop, but laptop to mainframe. Feb 2 '18 at 19:39
  • 1
    Technology aside, it probably sounds better to the layperson watching the film.
    – user25738
    Feb 2 '18 at 21:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .