Cisco “Anatomy of an Attack”

Cisco Security

Anatomy of an Attack

Episode 1 - Ransomware

For the first episode in Cisco’s “Anatomy of an Attack” series, we set out to avoid the usual Hollywood clichés and tell the story of how specific malware attacks actually occur in the real world. We didn’t want to rely on the standard tropes of guys in hoodies breaking into a ‘mainframe’ and cracking passwords. Instead, we wanted to show something much more unsettling; real life, and the simplicity of effective attacks. And while the story is fictionalized, everything that occurs in this film is factually accurate. It is based on several serious attacks that have actually occurred, some of them high-profile news stories, others that were less known but highly damaging to the companies that were attacked. The film is a cautionary tale, where every step of the attack maps one-to-one with a Cisco Security solution that would have prevented it. The viewer is left with the understanding that attacks this clever and specific are seemingly impossible to defeat without help.

Before writing the script, Creative Director Ty Bardi did extensive research into the specifics of malware and ransomware attacks to craft a story that was 100% accurate. Cisco Security provided a trove of research material and case studies to give some background on the types of attacks and specific details in how they played out and they arranged meetings with cybersecurity experts to go over the details of the story and fact check it for realism.  Even the ransomware screens seen in the film are from screenshots of actual ransomware that exists in the wild.

The film was a huge success, premiering before 20,000 people at Cisco’s security keynote, then living on the internet. It was featured on the front page of and driven a large volume of traffic to the Cisco Security Solutions landing page. 

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