Homeland is a Showtime original series running for the seventh season (2011). In S7:E2 (Rebel Rebel, directed by Leslie Linka Glatter), Claire Danes (Carrie Matissons), the bipolar and jazz aficionado CIA operative, makes a newbie mistake by opening a more than suspicious JPEG file from a shady forum. What do they teach you @ CIA? Don’t ever do that! Ok, so what was meant to happen next, happened: ransomware takes control of her compromising laptop and she is asked for $5K in bitcoins to decrypt her files.

Elliptic curve encryption

If CIA operatives don’t know much about the risks of the cyber world, they do know how to push your buttons and kick your ass. That’s what Carrie does at the end of the episode. Yeah, badass girl!

Now to our topic of interest. Maury Sterling (Max Piotrowsky), Carrie’s go-to tech guy, explains to her that the laptop is toast and that he cannot break the elliptical curve encryption used by the hacker. This is how it goes:

Max: The keyboard is locked and all the files are encrypted.

Carrie: Yeah I got that, but how bad is it?

Max: It is bad. The malware uses elliptic encryption.

Carrie: You can fix it, right?

Max: No.

Carrie: You can fix anything!

Max: But not this. Nobody has been able to crack this. Not yet anyway.

Well, is it true Max? If you are interested, there’s a good video on the topic by

Computerphile here.

Good concepts, wrong code

So for the elliptic curve encryption, Homeland deserves an A. Kudos! At the same time, they get an F for coding. Indeed, when the depraved hacker (Jordan Woods-Robinson, Troll) gets his ass kicked by Carrie, we can peek at some C++ code. With only a few seconds and no focus, the code seems to handle some graphic interface related operations (checking if stuff is in the Rect of a Point – very windowsy by the way :)).